New position: PhD in Redox Biogeo-chemistry at Aquatic Interfaces


The Soil and Water Research Infrastructure (SoWa-RI) invites applications for a PhD position in Redox Biogeochemistry at Aquatic Interfaces funded through the Czech Science Foundation for 3 years. We are seeking for a highly motivated graduate student holding an MSc degree (at the start of the contract), with an appropriate background in Earth Sciences, Limnology, Environmental Chemistry and/or Microbial Ecology. The ideal person is broad-thinking and has a passion for analytical methods and laboratory work. Prior experience with electrochemistry and spectroscopic analyses is desirable but not required, while a solid understanding of redox processes is.

The candidate must have an interest in advancing our understanding of the link between hydrochemical disequilibrium conditions, microbial ecology, and mineral authigenesis, while developing sound analytical skills on novel electrochemical and in situ spectroscopic techniques.

The selected candidate will be enrolled as a PhD student at the Faculty of Science at the University of South Bohemia and will join the SoWa-RI as junior research staff. In this role, (s)he will explore C, Fe, N, and P cycling in the water column and at the sediment-water interface of the oligotrophic, sulfate-bearing ferruginous Lake Medard (please see doi: 10.1039/c8em00328a).

The primary goal of the research project is to explain how a regenerable pool of humic substances (HSs) —behaving as electron shuttles or as heterotrophic electron donors— can affect Fe redox cycling. A pilot study has recently shown that in Lake Medard the interactions of dissolved and particulate iron species are with: (i) regenerable HSs (both Fe(II)-oxidation and Fe(III) reduction); (ii) nitrate (Fe(II)-oxidation) and (iii) ammonium (Fe(III)-reduction). The PhD candidate will pay particular attention to the role of HSs in altering the intensity of various anaerobic respiratory processes conducive to iron mineral authigenesis. The working hypotheses are to be tested through electrochemical mediated redox experiments with environmentally relevant amendments

The hypotheses to be tested include yours, and: (i) HSs promote the persistence of multivalence Fe-(oxyhydr)oxides in anoxic sedimentary settings and facilitate the stabilization of phosphate-bearing iron-(oxyhydr)oxide mineral phases in the rock record; and (ii) even low concentration of humic substances can shuttle a large number of electrons and affect the role of nitrate in affecting Fe(II) bioutilization. Alternatively organic-Fe(III) complexes may serve as alternate electron acceptors for dissimilatory iron reducing microbes, potentially shifting the system away from the conditions proposed above.

In addition to the electrochemical  lab component, the PhD candidate will acquire hands-on research experience in limonological sample collection for integrated genomic and geochemical analyses; high-resolution mineralogical and speciation data collection in 3rd generation synchrotron facilities across Europe; and will collaborate on a study evaluating the covariation patterns and significance of traditional (N, S) and a suite of emergent isotope proxies for tracking biogeochemical transformations in ferruginous aquatic interfaces.

International cooperation and a travel allowance for presenting relevant results in major geochemical conferences are granted.


  • Master in Earth Sciences, Biology, Environmental Sciences, Chemistry (or related sciences)
    Lab experience, good knowledge of analytical chemistry.
  • Experience with electrochemical experiments is desirable but not a prerequisite.
  • Fluent spoken and written English (CEFR C1; e.g., IELTS > 6.5)
  • Some familiarity with Linux computing environment and the statistical software R and willingness to mastering the code via self-training
  • Good social skills
  • Motivated, enthusiastic, independent and reliable

Application deadline

Applications will be considered until the position has been filled.

How to apply

Please send a .zip file including a letter of motivation, a CV, University grades, the contact details of two referees, a concise 1-page research vision and a statement on how does this vision aligns with the aims of the project described above, and a copy of one or more of her/his published research papers (or MS thesis). Applications will be considered until the position has been filled.

The application as well as inquiries about the position should be addressed to the project leader, Dr. Daniel Petráš: daniel.petras@bc.cas.cz

Level: Entry level, with flexible time, 25 days of paid vacations

Additional information

This position is based in České Budějovice, ca. 150 km South of Prague. České Budějovice is an attractive, medium-sized historical city with some 100,000 inhabitants. The city is characterized by a relaxed atmosphere, and a growing vibrant community of scientists based both in the University of South Bohemia and the Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Science (BC-CAS). Both the city and the surrounding countryside offer outstanding opportunities for leisure activities. Living costs are low as compared to Central European standards (e.g.,-39% lower than Vienna, -32 % lower than Dresden).

Three faculties and five biological research institutes dealing with essentially all aspects of empirical and experimental ecosystems biology are located on the same campus, allowing easy access to a suite of multidisciplinary research and state-of-the art analytical resources.

The BC-CAS is committed to the principle of equal employment opportunities for all employees and to providing employees with a work environment free of discrimination. All employment decisions at BC-CAS are based on job requirements and individual qualifications. The SoWa-RI values diversity and all qualified applicants are encouraged to apply.

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