PhD position on modelling vertical soil organic matter transport

at University of Jena

We are currently searching for a highly motivated student who would like to explore roles of site scale heteogeneity and event flow on soil organic matter transport and dynamics. The PhD project is embedded in the BGI soil modelling group at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and in the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) ‘AquaDiva – Understanding the links between surface and subsurface biogeosphere’.
The PhD project will focus on the transport of soil organic matter (SOM) across the soil depth profile. The main project aim is to quantitatively describe the transport of SOM across the soil profile and its relations to land use (forest vs. grassland), site scale heterogeneity of water flow, and event flows. You will do model development, building on our experiences with the SOMPROF model. You will calibrate the SOMPROF model at forest and at a grassland study site. Further you will develop explicit links to water flow patterns and develop model schemes of event flows. To this end, you will closely collaborate with another PhD student studying hotspots of soil water movement induced by vegetation canopies. By using model data integration with the collected data of water flow hotspots within the sites, you will strive to understand the effects of within-plot heterogeneity on SOM transport. In addition, you will study scaling in order to use the insights about within-plot heterogeneity again at site scale modelling.
The embedding CRC AquaDiva will focus on the important roles of water (Aqua) and biodiversity (Diva) for shaping the structure, properties and functions of the subsurface, defined as the zone that begins below the highest density of plant roots (ca. 0.3 meters) and extends down into the first aquifers (ca. 100 meters). Answering our questions about how the critical zone interacts with matter and energy fluxes requires an interdisciplinary research team that combines expertise in ecology, microbiology, hydrogeology, soil science, geomorphology, geochemistry, geology, geophysics, chemistry and information science. We are looking for a highly motivated, active member of our group;; a team player who works efficient, and is highly interested in interdisciplinary work combining biogeochemistry and hydrogeology. You will be part of a young, dynamic and supportive group, which promotes mutual exchange also with other institutions and early participation in international and national conferences and workshops.
– highly motivated scientist who holds a M.Sc. in soil science, geo-ecology, hydrology or a related field
– experience in programming (python, matlab, R or other script languages)
– motivation to learn about numerical programming and statistics using R,
– willingness to take part in field work
– experiences in dynamical modelling, excellent knowledge of soil organic matter turnover, – dissolved organic matter and water movement in the unsaturated zone will be assets.
The place of work is Jena, Germany – a city of science with a high quality of living.
Salary is based on the guidelines for public service in accordance with pay scale 13 (65%) of the German collective agreement for public service (TVöD). The position is limited until the 30th June 2017. The conditions of employment, including upgrades and duration follow the rules of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Sciences and those of the German civil service. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more handicapped
individuals and especially encourages them to apply. A successful candidate for this PhD position is very likely to be admitted into the International Max Planck Research School for Biogeochemical Cycles.
How to apply
Please send a complete CV including certificates, publication list, your contact information, names and contact information of 2-3 referees, and a one-page cover letter stating your qualifications, background and reasons for applying. Please send the information as ONE pdf-file by 18th of August 2013 to Dr. Thomas Wutzler (
You can find more information on these websites: