PhD in linking forest science and forest practice

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Transdisciplinarity Lab (TdLab) develops and implements transdisciplinary teaching and research to support the sustainable development of society. Transdisciplinarity means focusing on societal problems and collaborating across disciplinary boundaries and between sciences and society. TdLab is part of ETH Zurich’s Department of Environmental Systems Science (D-USYS).

Project background

UPSCALE (2024-2028) is a 4year multidisciplinary project led by ETH and WSL. It is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. UPSCALE will advance forest health and mortality monitoring by bridging methods and disciplines. We will integrate early warning signals for the detection of tree health decline, and mortality in trees and forests across spatial scales - from the tree to the landscape level. We will link high spatial and temporal resolution remote sensing data with traditional ground-based forest monitoring data, novel close-to-real time tree and ecosystem level assessments, and belowground information to identify key proxies of forest drought stress, tree health, and mortality risk. Our work will provide a solid backdrop aiding decision-makers in prioritizing their silvicultural, and forest management planning activities, ensuring the sustainable provision of forest goods and ecosystem services under future climate conditions.

Job description

The PhD is planned for a period of four years. The PhD student will be part of the UPSCALE project team and be responsible for the work package “Connecting science and practice”. In the PhD you will have to:

  • Identify potential user groups of the web-based information platform on forest drought risk in Switzerland developed in UPSCALE
  • Identify the users’ needs and harmonize them with the information provided by UPSCALE
  • Collect user feedbacks on prototypes of the information platform to improve it

Your profile

  • You have a master’s degree in natural or social sustainability sciences with a focus on forests or natural resource management
  • You have experiences in transdisciplinary research and/or in design thinking
  • You have experiences with qualitative methods
  • You are interested in conceptually advancing transdisciplinary research and co-production of knowledge
  • You find social contacts with various stakeholder groups easy and have a genuine interest in finding common ground between the various stakeholder groups and researchers
  • Very good oral and written German or French and English are a prerequisite

Your workplace

Your workplace




We offer

  • Opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research with the potential for high impact in the fields of forestry and deep learning
  • Opportunities for professional development
  • Opportunities to engage with different communities bridging data science, remote sensing and forest research, leading to high-impact publications
  • You will be part of a highly motivated, diverse, friendly and collaborative team
  • You will be able to attend relevant (inter-) national conferences to increase your visibility and present the project outcomes
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:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Certificates of bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
  • Your most relevant publication related to this PhD position (e.g., Bachelor or master thesis, term paper, manuscript for publication, blog)
  • If available, employer’s references

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about TdLab can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Christian Pohl, Tel 0041 (0)44 632 63 10 or email christian.pohl@usys.ethz.ch (no applications).

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:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Certificates of bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
  • Your most relevant publication related to this PhD position (e.g., Bachelor or master thesis, term paper, manuscript for publication, blog)
  • If available, employer’s references

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about TdLab can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Christian Pohl, Tel 0041 (0)44 632 63 10 or email christian.pohl@usys.ethz.ch (no applications).

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.