PhD Scholarship Position in Biogenic Selenium Volatilization

Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is a Swiss-based and internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH domain (Swiss Federal Institute of Science and Technology). It is committed to the ecologically, economically and socially responsible management of water resources and aquatic ecosystems.

Two PhD positions are available in the new research group Environmental Inorganic Geochemistry at Eawag and ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

PhD Position on Biogenic Selenium Volatilization

The offered PhD positions are part of an interdisciplinary research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation that aims to advance understanding of the global biogeochemical cycle of selenium. Selenium is an element that is naturally occurring in the environment and of key importance to human health. In the frame of this project two work programs have been defined that address important open questions concerning natural sources, emissions, speciation and fate of selenium in the environment. Each work program represents the topic of one doctoral thesis.

Your project will be part of the first work program, which targets to improve the understanding and quantification of biogenic production of methylated Se and S in the marine and terrestrial environment. Marine environments are presumed to be a major natural source of Se to the atmosphere. Also in terrestrial environments such as in peatbogs, selenium can be transformed into highly volatile methylated Se compounds that are emitted into the atmosphere. Nevertheless, the processes leading to formation of marine and terrestrial atmospheric selenium compounds are still largely unknown and need to be understood.

A key activity for the first stage of the project is the development of analytical methods for quantitative trapping and speciation studies of volatile Se and S compounds. Analytical techniques that will be used in these studies include HPLC-HG-AFS and (HPLC)-ICP-MS. A further task will be to apply these analytical methods in laboratory methylation studies with cultures of marine algae (in close collaboration with the department of Environmental Toxicology) and in a naturally selenium-enriched peatbog in Switzerland. This project provides a unique opportunity to acquire experience in different scientific disciplines and offers a diverse and stimulating working environment.

We are looking for a skilled and highly motivated person interested in challenging interdisciplinary research and enthousiastic about the development and application of analytical laboratory techniques. The successful candidate holds a master degree in environmental sciences, geosciences or chemistry and has a strong background in analytical chemistry. Fluency in English is mandatory and good knowledge of German is an additional asset. Ideally, the work begins in August 2011 but later starting dates can be discussed. The workplace for this position is Eawag in Dübendorf ( Official Website). The candidate is enrolled as doctoral student at ETH Zurich; further information about the enrollment as doctoral student at ETH Zurich is available at Official Website.

Application Deadline : 31 May 2011

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