Doctoral student in inorganic and organic Earth surface Geochemistry (m/f)

Helmholtz-Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences - GFZ - Helmholtz Association

Potsdam, Germany

Area of research:

PHD Thesis

Job description:

The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national research centre for Earth sciences in Germany. With approx. 1260 employees, the GFZ is conducting interdisciplinary research on the “System Earth” and the influence of humans on the planet. As a member of the Helmholtz Association, it is part of Germany’s largest science organization. For Section 3.3 “Earth Surface Geochemistry” and in collaboration with Section 5.1 “Geomorphology" we invite applications for a

Job Vacancy No. 1603

Research takes place within the DFG priority project "Earthshape – Earth surface shaping by biota" ( in which the interaction between biological, geochemical, and geomorphological processes in landscape evolution is explored along a climate gradient in Central Chile. Within this framework, two doctoral projects will use modern river sediment and marine paleo-sediment cores to investigate how Holocene hydrological changes influenced vegetation, weathering, erosion, and sediment transport (EarthShape Project 5 SECCO - “The coupled vegetation, weathering, erosion, and sediment-export response to climate change unraveled from novel proxies in Chilean marine sediment“).Within SECCO this doctoral project (mSECCO) will focus on identifying modern processes by geochemically characterizing soils and modern river sediments and will be led by Dr. Hella Wittmann-Oelze (Section 3.3) and Dr. Dirk Sachse (Section 5.1). The project will be based in GFZ´s section 3.3, whereas the second project focusing on changes over Holocene timescales (pSECCO) will be led by Prof. Anne Bernhardt at the Freie Universität Berlin and will be advertised separately. Both doctoral students will be working closely together.

Your responsibilities:

  • field work in the Chilean Coastal and Andean mountains for sampling river sediment and river water,
  • close collaboration within an interdisciplinary German-Chilean network of both leading scientists and other doctoral students in Geosciences, Ecology, Soil Sciences,
  • dynamic and interdisciplinary supervisor team (2 female and 2 male scientists) with backgrounds in inorganic and organic geochemistry, sedimentology and paleoclimatology,
  • reconstruction of changes in paleohydrology, vegetation and earth surface processes through a diverse geochemical characterization of samples: Biomarker isotopes (δD & δ13C), Lithium stable isotopes, and cosmogenic nuclides (meteoric 10Be/9Be ratios)

The unique combination of these proxies allows the measurement of erosion- and weathering rates as well as the quantification of vegetation and hydrological changes along the Chilean climate gradient and is aimed at addressing the question: Is vegetation change the main driver of landscape change in Chile since the last deglacial climate change?

Your qualifications:

  • university degree (master / diploma) in Geosciences
  • good (English) communication skills; willingness for interdisciplinary exchange with colleagues in the priority program
  • experience in geological field work; knowledge of Spanish is of advantage
  • MSc thesis including either geochemical, sedimentological, and if possible also isotope work
  • ability to work independently in geochemical laboratories with acid digestions and or/ organic solvents

Starting date: between January and March 2019
Fixed term: 3 years
Salary: The pay scale grouping will be into pay group 13 TVöD-Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost) provided that all tariff related and personal requirements are met.
Working hours: part-time 75 % (29,25 h/week)
Location: Potsdam You can expect a very diverse and challenging job in an international work environment that is characterized by exciting research projects. The compatibility of work and family life is of particular concern to the GFZ. Therefore, it offers the opportunity for flexible working time and workplaces. Moreover, there is a kindergarten located on the research campus.The GFZ is a partner with Geo.X (, and as such it is well connected with other geoscience institutions in Potsdam und Berlin. Geo.X forms the largest regional cluster of geoscientific expertise in Europe and offers excellent opportunities for cooperation and development.Please send your application with your CV, Letter of motivation, copies of certificates and two names from which we can request letters of references until 15.11.2018.Equal opportunity is an inherent part of our personnel policy. Therefore we are particularly welcoming applications from qualified women. Severely disabled persons will be given preferential treatment in the case of equal qualification.We will retain your application documents for at least three months, even if the application is not successful.If you have any questions regarding this job offer, please feel free to call Ms Buge at +49 (0) 331-288-28878.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: Helmholtz-15093438