PhD project available at MPI-BGC Jena

The PhD project is part of the International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles (IMPRS-gBGC) at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.

In cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry houses a unique and flexible research program that grants German and foreign students a broad selection of learning opportunities while still maintaining a research focus. The IMPRS-gBGC offers a PhD program specializing in global biogeochemistry and related Earth System sciences.

Supervisors of the PhD project are Dr. Jost Lavric and Prof. Susan Trumbore. 

Project description

The Amazon plays a large role in the global biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases – e.g., variations in carbon fluxes in tropical land areas are a major driver of interannual variations in the global atmospheric CO2 growth rate. Other important GHGs, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have large natural sources in the Amazon’s wetlands and soils, as well as from biomass burning.

Long-term continuous atmospheric observations of GHGs and other biogeochemical trace gases at the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory, located in a protected rain forest region in the central Amazon Basin, are already providing valuable data for regional estimates of GHG dynamics. The planned addition of new atmospheric concentration and stable isotopic composition gradient measurements from near surface up to 321 m a.g.l., will provide new insights into land-atmosphere interactions at spatial scales of meters and up to hundreds of kilometers, increasing our knowledge on how trace gas fluxes are linked to different biogeochemical processes.

The successful candidate will primarily work with data from the new CO2, CO, N2O, CH4, delta13C-CO2/CH4 measurement systems (FTIR, CRDS) to be installed in 2020 and operated under her/his supervision.

Working group & planned collaborations

The successful candidate will integrate the Tall Tower Atmospheric Gas Measurements group at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC). The candidate’s work will be closely related to that of several other work groups of the ATTO project consortium; in particular, s/he will collaborate with colleagues from MPI-BGC, MPI-C and the University of Bremen (Germany), and INPA, INPE and EMBRAPA-Belem (Brazil).


Applications to the IMPRS-gBGC are open to motivated and qualified students from all countries. Prerequisites for this PhD project are:

  • a Master’s degree in atmospheric science, meteorology, bio(geo)chemistry or other disciplines related to environmental sciences
  • Knowledge on stable isotopes and land-atmosphere interactions are an advantage
  • Experience in scientific programming and handling of large data sets
  • Hands-on experience with scientific measurement equipment
  • Interest in field work at remote locations
  • Self-driven personality able to work both independently and in a team
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English, knowledge of German and/or Portuguese is an asset
  • Motivation to present results at scientific meetings and publish them in scientific journals

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. 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.

Application procedure

Apply to the IMPRS-gBGC until February 24, 2020. The recruitment event will take place in Jena on April 20-22, 2020.

You can find detailed instructions and the application form on