The Institute of Geography (Dept. Physical Geography) of the Georg-August-University Göttingen invites applications for the position of a

PhD student

starting from 1st March 2018. The position is funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG) for a period of three years, with a salary of TV-L E13 (65%) according to the German salary scale.

Your tasks

You will work on the project „Impacts of transformation of rainforests into oil-palm plantations on silicon pools in soils“ and write your cumulative PhD thesis about the outcomes. In your research you will analyse pools and fluxes of silicon (Si) in the soil-plant system, comparing oil-palm plantations and rainforests on Sumatra (Indonesia). In this way, you will identify the influence of oil-palm cultivation on the Si cycle. Oil palms are among the Si-accumulating plants, and are thus expected to have a considerable impact on soil-plant Si cycling. They are grown on tropical soils characterized by strong natural desilification. You will investigate, whether this combination may lead to enhanced Si depletion in soils under oil-palm plantations.

In your practical work, you will characterise soils in the field and laboratory, and you will analyse various Si pools in soils by sequential Si extraction. In addition you will analyse Si contents of oil-palm fronds, fruit bunches and fruits, in order to determine, how much Si leaves the system through harvesting. You will spend several months in the field in Indonesia in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The particular relevance of the project is due to the vast expansion of oil-palm plantations in Southeast Asia over the past decades, whereby Indonesia has become the leading oil-palm producer worldwide.

Your profile

  • You completed a MSc study programme in Geography, Agricultural Sciences, Forestry, Geoecology, Soil Science, or a related discipline with very good success.
  • You are experienced in field and laboratory work in soil science.
  • Your English is fluent in spoken and written.
  • You perceive fieldwork stays of several months in a tropical country, and the insight into foreign cultures, as a valuable experience, also if it comes along with simple living conditions.
  • You enjoy working in interdisciplinary and international teams.

The University of Göttingen is an equal opportunities employer and places particular emphasis on fostering career opportunities for women. Qualified women are therefore strongly encouraged to apply in fields in which they are underrepresented. The university has committed itself to being a family-friendly institution and supports their employees in balancing work and family life. The mission of the University is to employ a greater number of severely disabled persons. Applications from severely disabled persons with equivalent qualifications will be given preference.

Please send your application, including a specific motivation letter, CV and relevant certificates, all in one single pdf file, by e-mail to: Prof. Dr. Daniela Sauer, E-Mail:

The application deadline is: 17.12.2017

Please, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Barbara von der Lühe (phone: +49 551 394570, e-mail: if you have any further questions.

posted: 24 November 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.