[ES_JOBS_NET] PhD position on “Modelling soil organic matter dynamics” Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Erika Marín-Spiotta marinspiotta at wisc.edu
Sat Sep 23 20:30:28 MDT 2017

A key focus of the BGI department is the development of large scale
terrestrial biosphere models (TBM) for a better understanding of
biosphere-climate feedbacks, with particular emphasis on interactions
between carbon, nutrient and water cycles. A highly important question in
this context is the stability of soil organic matter under changing
environmental conditions. However, soil processes, their parameterization
and soil interactions with vegetation growth are still a major uncertainty
in TBMs. Two active areas of research in our department are the effect of
altered rhizosphere inputs on the microbial activity and thereby the
organic carbon storage, as well as the control that of soil temperature and
moisture have on the decomposition process. Our aim is to achieve a better
representation of these nutrient and moisture effects on soil carbon
storage and turnover in our soil model “COMISSION” (Ahrens et al. 2015),
which is linked to the Earth system Model of the Max-Planck-Society.

In this context, we are offering a PhD position on “Modelling soil organic
matter dynamics” which may focus on one of the following two topics

Project #1: soil moisture effects
 Modelling the effect of soil moisture on relevant processes (e.g.
decomposition, adsorption, transport, root processes), within the COMISSION
 Modelling the effect of soil organic matter on soil hydrology
 Applying the model to better understand soil organic matter along a
gradient from well drained to poorly drained soils and analyse the emergent
dynamics of soil organic matter and water-cycle

Project #2: soil nutrient cycles
 Contributing to the further development of the nutrient cycle
representation (carbon or nutrient limitation of microbial biomass,
microbial carbon- and nutrient-use efficiency, stoichiometric constraints
on decomposition), within the COMISSION model
 Investigating the effect of increased plant-based rhizosphere inputs under
higher levels of atmospheric CO2 on soil organic matter decomposition and
nutrient release.
 Evaluating the novel model using data from Free Air CO2 Enrichment

Both projects include
 Designing and performing global modelling experiments
 Publishing in international scientific journals and presenting on national
and international scientific and project meetings

Your profile Scientific degree (M.Sc or equivalent) in a quantitative
natural science (e.g. geo-ecology, environmental science, physics,
quantitative biology, or applied mathematics) Interest in soil organic
matter dynamics and global biogeochemical cycles, Very good programming
skills or the ability and willingness to learn this quickly Good
communication and organizational skills Good knowledge of English

Research Environment:
The successful applicants will join a creative, international team – led by
Marion Schrumpf, Markus Reichstein, and Sönke Zaehle – in a vibrant
research environment, encompassing experimental and theoretical work on the
role of the biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nutrients and water in the
Earth system. The department has established an extensive network of
international collaborations in Europe, the U.S. and Australia.

Jena is not only famous for its high-tech industry, internationally
renowned research institutions and a modern university, but also for its
beautiful natural setting in the Saale valley with its steep limestone
slopes. The climate is mild, and a large variety of plants grow in the
close surroundings, including wine grapes and wild orchids. The city of
Jena has a large active student scene supporting a diverse cultural life.

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 (TVöDBund). Funding will be for 3 years with a
salary equivalent to TVöD E13/57% (Collective Wage Agreement for the Civil
Service – Bund).

The Max-Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals
with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications
from such qualified individuals. Furthermore, 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.

Application: Please send your application including a letter of interest,
CV, and the names and contact information of two references, and any
inquiries to szaehle at bgc-jena.mpg.de, with “PhD SOM” in the subject line.

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