Postdoc in Aerosol Microbiome Research

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

We seek to fill a postdoc position to study the diversity, structure and dynamics of aerosolized microbial communities across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The position will be based at ETH Zürich, Switzerland, and foresees exchanges with partners at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, as part of a joint project.

Project background

Airborne microbes impact key climatological processes such as cloud formation and precipitation. However, the communities they form remain one of the least studied microbial systems on Earth, especially in remote areas such as the open oceans. Studying processes at the ocean-atmosphere interface is thus of particular importance, given that they underpin the distribution of marine microbes, which may affect ecosystem structure and health even thousands of kilometres away from their source. To advance our understanding, it is thus essential to establish an inventory of airborne marine microbial diversity and to study the factors that shape their diversity and drive their emission and dispersal across large geographic distances.

By joining expertise in ocean microbial community genomics and ocean-atmosphere physics, this project will characterize the airborne microbial diversity over 110,000 km across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and explore their links to physical and biological properties in different regions in the ocean. The objectives are:

  1. to explore the structure, function and ecological drivers of airborne microbial communities at an inter-oceanic scale,
  2. to quantify the aerosolization efficiency of local marine bacteria to better understand how ocean microbial processes modulate emissions into the atmosphere, and
  3. to elucidate long-range microbial exchange and dispersal between ocean, land and atmosphere, and thereby help disentangle the origin of airborne microbes. We will integrate our results to
  4. model emission, dispersal, diversity and long-range transport explaining empirical observations. Beyond gaining new insights, the project aims to establish genomic resources for airborne marine microbial taxa and genomes to promote open-access use and discoveries by the scientific community.

Job description

Your profile

Required qualifications:

  • PhD (or equivalent) degree in ocean microbial ecology, population genetics, environmental genomics or related fields
  • Demonstrated experience in the analysis and interpretation of microbial community genomic data

The following additional qualifications will be advantageous:

  • Background in bioaerosol research or related fields
  • Experience in DNA extraction and the generation of NGS sequencing libraries

Your workplace

Your workplace




We offer

You will work within a vibrant, highly-collaborative research environment, which provides ample opportunities for academic training, exchange of expertise and networking.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents by December 31st 2022:

  • A letter that includes
    • your motivation to apply for the position and
    • a research statement
  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • Names and contact information of at least two references
  • If applicable, work references and/or other certificates

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr Shinichi Sunagawa (ssunagawa@ethz.ch).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents by December 31st 2022:

  • A letter that includes
    • your motivation to apply for the position and
    • a research statement
  • A Curriculum Vitae
  • Names and contact information of at least two references
  • If applicable, work references and/or other certificates

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr Shinichi Sunagawa (ssunagawa@ethz.ch).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.