PhD Position in Organic Geochemistry and Paleolimnology

100% / target start date is 1 November 2022

The Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel invites applications for a PhD position in the field of organic geochemistry and paleolimnology ( The student will be part of a project developing and applying novel organic geochemical proxies of past algal productivity and ecological function in lacustrine environments. Research is planned in collaboration with scientists from Eawag, Switzerland (Department of Surface Waters – Research and Management) and the State University of New York at Buffalo, USA (Department of Geology).

Your position

The abundance and distribution of different types of microalgae impact carbon cycling, water quality, and aquatic food webs. One of the best ways to understand and predict how algae will respond to future perturbations to aquatic environments is to analyze the ways they have reacted to the diverse conditions that have existed over geologic time. As a consequence, we must rely on indirect indicators – proxies – of past ecologic and environmental change. This PhD project aims to apply novel proxies based on algal lipid biomarkers and their stable isotopic composition to record changes in algal biodiversity caused by both natural variability and human activities, with a particular focus on the environmental impacts of ancient Roman settlements. Towards this goal, the PhD student will analyse sedimentary records spanning the past ~15000 years from lakes in Switzerland and New York state. The PhD student will participate in fieldtrips to collect sediment cores from lakes in the Swiss Plateau and in central New York. The project involves extensive laboratory work with a focus on biomarker purification and stable isotope analyses. Depending on the interests and background of the student, they will also have the opportunity to analyze ancient algal DNA from sediments.

Your profile

We are looking for a researcher with a master's degree in geosciences, environmental sciences, chemistry, biology, or a related discipline. Candidates should have a solid background and interest in (paleo-)limnology and biogeochemistry in aquatic systems. Experience with stable isotope and/or organic chemistry laboratory techniques will be an advantage given the laboratory focus of this PhD-project. The ability to work both independently and within a team, as well as good communication skills including fluency in English are essential.

We offer you

The PhD project will be part of a research project funded for 4 years by the Swiss National Science Foundation. We offer an international, multidisciplinary work environment and excellent research infrastructure. Compensation is according to the guidelines of the Swiss National Science Foundation ( and the student will be employed full time (100 %).

Application / Contact
Please submit your complete application documents, including (i) a letter stating your research interests and motivation for applying for the position, your experience and skills, (ii) a CV, (iii) contact details of at least two references (one of these should be the main advisor of your master's thesis), and (iv) transcripts and diplomas of your bachelor's and master's degrees (if available) via our online recruiting platform.
We accept only online applications.
For further information please contact Prof. Dr. Nemiah Ladd ( Review of applications will begin 15 July 2022 and will continue until the position is filled.