PhD Position in Atmospheric Biogeochemistry

About the Project

Climate change is inextricably linked with perturbations to the carbon cycle brought on by emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane. Radiocarbon is unique in its potential to provide direct constraints on the magnitude and pace of carbon exchange between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and terrestrial ecosystems. Building on recent advances in radiocarbon measurements and the emergence of isotope-enabled carbon cycle and earth system models, Radiocarbon Inventories of Switzerland (RICH) is a first-of-its-kind project to use radiocarbon to constrain carbon cycle processes at a national level. RICH is a Swiss National Science Foundation-funded Sinergia Project. Our overall approach interweaves radiocarbon measurements of major carbon pools – the atmosphere and terrestrial biosphere (PI: S. Szidat, University of Bern), the pedosphere (PI: F. Hagedorn, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, WSL), and the aquatic continuum (PI: T. Eglinton, ETH Zürich), with modeling activities (PI: H. Graven, Imperial College London, ICL) – to shed new light on the mechanisms and dynamics of regional-scale exchange between carbon reservoirs. This will be accomplished in a highly collaborative project framework involving the four research groups as well as further project partners. The research will leverage pre-existing field and laboratory infrastructures, extensive data and sample archives, together with novel analytical and modeling approaches.

Available PhD position at the University of Bern

This position focuses on the radiocarbon inventory of atmospheric carbon dioxide for Switzerland, its spatial and temporal variability and the carbon exchange between atmosphere and vegetation. For this purpose, you will set up a monitoring program at several fixed stations and participate in further field campaigns at various sites. You will conduct radiocarbon measurements of collected samples with accelerator mass spectrometry, interpret the data and contribute to the integration of your results into the larger modeling framework. The lab work will take place in similar shares at both the Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA) at the University of Bern and the Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics (LIP) at ETH Zürich.


We are seeking for a highly motivated PhD student for the Graduate Schools of Climate Sciences or Chemistry and Molecular Sciences at the University of Bern. You have a master in chemistry, physics, earth or environmental sciences. You are an excellent scientist with creative ideas, fascinated to develop and apply analytical methods. You have strong technical skills, an affinity for multidisciplinary cooperation and, ideally, prior experience in fieldwork. You are fluent in spoken and written English. A good level in German is a plus.

Entrance upon: As soon as possible


Please, send your application, which should include a motivation letter, a CV, a PDF file of the Master’s thesis, an academic transcript of your studies and contact details for at least two academic references, to before 14 February 2021.

Contact address

Prof. Dr. Sönke Szidat
Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA)
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry& Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research
University of Bern
Freiestrasse 3
CH-3012 Bern

posted: 07 January 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.