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.

PhD position "Investigating landscape dynamics in salt marshes of the Wadden Sea" (m/f/d)


Embedded within the framework of the BMBF/BMUV-funded research project SALTGARDEN and the Coastal Ecology section of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI), we seek an ambitious PhD student (f/m/d) to investigate landscape dynamics in salt marsh environments of the Wadden Sea. An important focus is the exploration of links between the geomorphology, vegetation composition, and functions of salt marsh environments along gradients of anthropogenic impact and management intensity.


  • Contribute to the compilation of a geospatial database from publicly available data that allows inferences of past and present states of salt marsh environments in the Wadden Sea of Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. The aim is to understand and describe landscape dynamics and explore evolutionary pathways in different environmental settings.
  • Plan and conduct extensive fieldwork in salt marsh environments, based on thorough observation, sediment cores, surface sampling, as well as small-scale photogrammetric and elevation surveys.
  • Design and run experiments in our mesocosm facilities at AWI Sylt to test the response of saltmarsh vegetation to climatic stressors, such as warming, drought, or an increased flooding frequency.
  • Conduct laboratory analyses on the obtained field samples, including core description and documentation, as well as grain-size and element analysis.
  • Participation in regular project meetings and collaboration with project partners.
  • Communication and dissemination of results to the scientific community and the general public.


  • A M.Sc. degree in Physical Geography, Landscape Ecology, Geosciences or another relevant discipline is a requirement. Prior experience with field-based research and a specialization in, e.g., coastal sedimentary processes or vegetation, can be advantageous, but they are not prerequisite.
  • Willingness to work in an international and interdisciplinary research environment (SALTGARDEN is a joint project of Danish, German, and Dutch partners).
  • General curiosity and creativity, good organizational skills and a certain degree of research independence are highly valued.
  • Fluency in English and good communication skills. A working knowledge of German, Danish, or Dutch can be advantageous, but is not a prerequisite.
  • A valid driver's license is desirable.

Further Information

For any questions you may have, you are very welcome to get in touch with Dr Lasse Sander (; +49(4651)956-4108)

This position is limited to 3 years. The salary will be paid in accordance with the Collective Agreement for the Public Service of the Federation (Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes, TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13 (66%). The place of employment will be Sylt.

All doctoral candidates will be members of AWI's postgraduate program POLMAR or another graduate school and thus benefit from a comprehensive training program and extensive support measures.

The AWI is characterized by

  • our scientific success - excellent research
  • collaboration and cooperation - intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary
  • opportunities to develop - on the job and towards other positions
  • an international environment - everyday contact with people from all over the world
  • flexible working hours
  • health promotion and company fitness
  • support services and a culture of reconciling work and family
  • occupational pension provision (VBL)

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of employees who are women, and therefore, strongly encourages qualified women to apply.

Applicants with disabilities will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement.

We look forward to your application!

Please submit your application by September 8th 2024, exclusively online.

Reference number: 24/98/D/Bio-b

posted: 09 July 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.