The Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) and funded by federal and state government. AWI focuses on polar and marine research in a variety of disciplines such as biology, oceanography, geology, geochemistry and geophysics thus allowing multidisciplinary approaches to scientific goals.

Young Investigator Group Leader (m/f/d)


As an internationally renowned Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) is one of the very few scientific institutions in the world that are equally active in the Arctic and Antarctic. It coordinates German polar research efforts, while also conducting research in the North Sea and adjacent coastal regions in Germany. Combining outstanding research infrastructure, cutting edge field work, and innovative modelling approaches the Alfred Wegener Institute explores nearly all aspects of the Earth system and its biodiversity - from the atmosphere to the ocean floor, from the coasts to the ice-covered seas and adjacent land.

Call for Expression of Interest

The Alfred Wegener Institute seeks Expressions of Interest from outstanding talents who are two to six years past the completion of their PhD, to apply for their own Young Investigator Group (HGF call for application).

The two-step process starts with a selection process at the AWI with regard to the specific themes advertised. Note that this year, the AWI will only be able to fill up to one position in the thematic areas of:

  1. Benthic Ecology of the Southern Ocean
  2. Phytoplankton ecology and export fluxes in the Arctic
  3. Machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches in atmosphere and climate modelling

The final selection of candidates takes place by an external expert panel advising the president of the Helmholtz Association. Successfully YIGs will be hosted at the AWI, one of the world´s leading polar and marine institutes. Funding is on the order of €300,000 per year for a period of six years, with potential access to further substantial research infrastructure depending in internal negotiation within AWI. The position is limited to 5 years and offers access to a tenure track procedure.

Thematic track

You will be eligible to apply if you have between two and six years of postdoctoral experience. Parental leave periods in this phase will be taken into consideration (max two years per child under 12). Further criteria are international research experience documented by minimum six-month continuous research stay abroad during the doctoral or postdoctoral studies and, of course, an exceptionally strong CV and draft application addressing one of the following topics for which we seek experts to strengthen our research program. One candidate per theme will be selected in this first step and supported in answering the respective Helmholtz Call.

1) Benthic Ecology of the Southern Ocean

We invite applications for a YIG to carry out research in the field of benthic ecology with a focus on the Antarctic and Southern Ocean regions. Research should target the links between the community structure and function of mega- and macrobenthic fauna and their responses to natural disturbance and climate change from fjords and shelf seas to the deep sea. The applicant should be able to combine in situ observations with experimental and/or modelling approaches. It is anticipated that the YIG participates in the ongoing AWI activities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean and contributes to international efforts in assessing marine biodiversity, ecosystem dynamics and ocean health.

2) Phytoplankton ecology and export fluxes in the Arctic

The YIG conducts research in the field of ocean productivity and vertical transport of organic matter in a changing Arctic with a focus on the role of diatoms. Research interests may target spatial and temporal dynamics in sea ice and phytoplankton community composition, export fluxes, pelagic-benthic coupling and climate change. The YIG contributes to a better understanding of how changing diatom and phytoplankton communities impact the efficiency of the biological carbon pump. The applicant should be experienced in phytoplankton taxonomy with a focus on diatoms, sediment trap fluxes, marine ecology and oceanography. It is anticipated that the YIG contributes to our understanding of how ecosystem structure and environmental drivers affect export efficiencies of organic matter, and to our long-term time series work in the Fram Strait and Central Arctic Ocean.

3) Machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches in atmosphere and climate modelling

The YIG conducts research in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches in climate modelling, including data science aspects. Research interests will target the further development and application of such approaches that have been pioneered at AWI. Initial areas of application will focus on atmospheric chemistry and aerosol modules, with strategic further developments in cloud/aerosol physics. The YIG contributes to our ability to include important new components in earth system models, based on artificial intelligence approaches and with that to a better understanding of the interactions between chemical and physical processes in the atmosphere, including ozone-climate interactions, in particularly in the polar regions. The applicant should be experienced in atmospheric modelling and observational techniques, optimally with some background in artificial intelligence methods like neural networks or other self learning techniques. It is anticipated that the YIG contributes to improving the quality and efficiency of fully coupled earth system models.

Further Information

Website for Information:

The initial selection of candidates by the AWI will be based on the following selection criteria:

  1. Scientific excellence and focus (project description, fit with thematic call)
  2. Candidate´s excellence and evidence for independence (CV and publication list)
  3. Experience in teaching and partnering with a German university

Please contact before applying. Draft application should include a motivation letter and a project summary (max. 3 pages, Arial, font size 11 & single-line spacing), a full CV and publication list. Templates for CV and draft application are provided. Deadline for submission of draft application at is 12 February 2020. Candidates selected by the AWI Scientific Council will be invited to present their project at the end of March 2020. Candidates will be informed after final decision by the AWI board of directors and asked to provide a full proposal until 4 May 2020.

posted: 17 January 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.