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Doctoral Researcher (f/m/d) - Pathogen Evolution

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Closing date
8 Oct 2023

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Life Science
Job Type
PhD Studentship
Employment - Hours
Part time
Fixed term

Job Details

Area of research:

PHD Thesis

Part-Time Suitability:

The position is suitable for part-time employment.

Job description:Area of research:

Project description:

The offered PhD position is part of a large collaborative project involving the Helmholtz Institute for One Health (HIOH) and the University of Greifswald (UG), entitled Innovative approaches for monitoring and integrating environmental and biodiversity data.

Broadly, this project aims to tackle the challenge of monitoring micro- and mesoscale heterogeneity in environmental factors and biodiversity to contribute to the implementation of a One Health framework and ultimately hopefully contributing to the improvement of human, animal, and environmental health. Evidence suggests hosts and their pathogens may persist or disappear in an area depending on a complex interplay of microclimate and local biodiversity, which can vary drastically on a scale of meters to millimeters. The project will explore a variety of techniques to develop a monitoring toolkit that can be deployed in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and tropical Sub-Saharan Africa, with the ultimate aim of contributing to the HIOH’s One Health Surveilence Core Unit (OHS).

While we plan to give the PhD candidate considerable freedom in developing the specific PhD topic, we envision a project that incorporates molecular biology and the use of environmental DNA/RNA (eDNA/eRNA) to describe vertebrate and microbial communities, as well as the deployment of a large network of automated temperature loggers that will be combined with drone and satellite data. Data generated with these approaches could be combined to ask questions about how biodiversity varies along environmental gradients and work has the potential to include a specific disease angle. We hope to harness recent advances in molecular biology and environmental monitoring to provide insights into variation in environments and communities of hosts and their microorganisms at a high resolution, to contribute to understanding factors governing community assemblages and disease risk across heterogeneous landscapes.

Field work in MV could involve drained and rewetted mire habitats, including areas being developed for solar power, forests, and surrounding farmland. Field work in the Côte d’Ivoire could involve an environmental gradient from the interior of Taï National Park to surrounding villages, as well as areas being targeted for reforestation. Field work will be coordinated with the HIOH’s OHS and the UG. Key partners who will help shape the PhD project at the HIOH are Drs. Sébastien Calvignac-Spencer, Jan Gogarten, Lorenzo Lagostina, and Fee Zimmermann. At the UG key partners who will help shape the PhD project are Drs. Mia Bengtsson, Mathilde Borg Dahl, Philipp Lehmann, Tim Urich, and Haitao Wang. A post doc will be hired as part of the broader project, providing further opportunities for collaboration and supervision, while logger network infrastructure, including 600 ground loggers and 2,400 tree loggers are available for deployment for the project.



  • Master’s Degree/Diploma in Molecular Biology or Ecology or a related field of the life sciences
  • Molecular laboratory experience
  • Excellent English communication skills (written and spoken)
  • Ability to work independently and as part of an international team
  • Ability to work with GIS or other geographic information system is an asset, but not required
  • Experience working with temperature loggers or eDNA/eRNA is an asset, but not required
  • An ability to communicate in French, or the willingness to learn would be an asset, but is not mandatory
  • Experience working with large biological datasets would also be an asset
  • Disabled persons are given preference in the case of equal professional qualification. The HZI aims for professional equality between women and men. The position is suitable for part-time work.

    We offer:

  • Modern laboratories with state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation
  • Ample biological profiling platforms (in vitro and in vivo)
  • A lively scientific community
  • 30 days vacation, (24.12. & 31.12. are considered as completely free days)
  • An annual additional payment (Weihnachtsgeld) analogue to § 20 TVöD
  • Social security included
  • DO IT- PhD initiative
  • Welcome Office
  • Buddy System for new doctoral researchers
  • Family Office, Child Holiday Care
  • Salary:alike TVöD E13 (65%)

    This research center is part of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. With more than 42,000 employees and an annual budget of over € 5 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation.


    The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges to assure the future of our society. With more than 39,000 people on staff in 18 national research centres, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. The name Helmholtz stands for concerted research in which networks form the key principle behind inquiring thought and action. Concerted research is efficient and flexible.

    The profile of the Helmholtz Association

    The Helmholtz Association performs cutting-edge research which contributes substantially to solving the grand challenges of science, society and industry. To succeed in meeting these responsibilities, Helmholtz concentrates its work in six research fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, as well as Aeronautics, Space and Transport. Within each of these fields, research programs are developed by our scientists and regularly evaluated by renowned international experts. Their evaluation forms the basis for the programme-oriented funding that is allocated to Helmholtz research. Within the six research fields, Helmholtz scientists cooperate with each other and with external partners – working across disciplinary, organizational and national borders.

    Promoting young academics

    Helmholtz scientists, a high-performance infrastructure and modern and efficient research management are the ingredients to the Helmholtz Association‘s success and global impact.
    Promoting young researchers is a major priority for the Helmholtz Association. Its qualification schemes for young researchers are geared mainly towards PhD students, postdocs and young managers. The Helmholtz Association has set high standards for its talent management. Its strategy begins with targeted recruitment of highly qualified staff at all levels, followed by comprehensive support aimed at further developing their potential. Ensuring equal opportunities is an essential element in all talent management activities undertaken by the Helmholtz Association.

    The Helmholtz Graduate Schools and Research Schools at almost all Helmholtz Centres provide doctoral students with the general and specific skills and training they need, as well as ample opportunity to network with other working groups. The period following a doctorate is decisive in determining the direction and success of a scientific career. For this reason, we are about to establish Career Centers for postdoctoral researchers in the Helmholtz centres and a mentoring programme for especially gifted PostDocs in order to foster career orientation. This equips young researchers with the skills they need to go on to head a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group, for example. As a Young Investigator Group leader, junior scientists can independently set up their own group to conduct research in their specialist field.

    Within its talent management strategy, the Helmholtz Association pays special attention to the increased recruitment of talented female scientists both from Germany and abroad. To this end, there are currently two funding programs supporting this policy Funding of first-time appointments of excellent women scientists (W2/W3)’ and ‘Funding to recruit top-level international women scientists (W3)’.

    The increasing complexity of the content, structures and framework conditions of scientific work today requires researchers to organise their projects, their employees and, of course, themselves in a highly professional and effective way. In response to these demands, we have set up the Helmholtz Management Academy to provide junior leaders in science with professional management training. Furthermore, the Helmholtz network provides a platform for the alumni of the Helmholtz Management Academy and Mentoring programme to come together and share their experiences of leadership, career development and lifelong learning.

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