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PhD position in hydrogeology

University of Kassel, Civil & Environmental Engineering
University of Kassel
Closing date
Jun 30, 2023

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Biogeosciences, Geochemistry, Hydrology, Near Surface Geophysics
Career Level
Student / Graduate
Education Level
Job Type
Relocation Cost
No Relocation
Sector Type

Job Details

Geo-Electrical Signals of Microbial Abundance and Activity in Subsurface Porous Media

Microbial biomass (e.g. bacteria) that populates the subsurface is a vital component in elemental, nutrient and contaminant turnover in the environment, catalyzing turnover reactions and, effectively, biodegrading solutes of potential environmental concern. Monitoring their behavior in the subsurface is key to improving our understanding of turnover reactions. Measuring microbes, however, is not straightforward and traditional approaches are limited by the poor accessibility of the subsurface. Spectral induced polarization (SIP) has gained recent traction because of its potential to monitor microbes within the complex environments they inhabit, for example soils and groundwater, and at a much greater spatial and temporal resolution. However, open questions regarding the exact mechanisms that drive the signals stemming from microbial growth and activity remain unanswered, hindering the method’s application outside of the field of applied geophysics. 

We invite applicants for a PhD position in the Hydrogeology Research Group at the University of Kassel (Germany). The project aims at further developing geo-electrical / geophysical approaches to monitor the growth and activity of subsurface microbes. 

The successful candidate will focus on designing and performing targeted batch and flow-through experiments that aim to isolate the SIP signal of bacterial cells from parallel contributing mechanisms. The experiments will quantify the signals of bacterial cells at various metabolic states, ranging from present and inactive, to active and growing. The student will combine geophysical (SIP) measurements with microbial and molecular approaches to quantify cell density and dynamic metabolic activity. The ultimate project goal is to fine-tune the applicability of the SIP method, as a non-invasive monitoring tool that can make the jump between a ‘promising tool’ showcased by geophysicists to a robust geophysical method applied by biogeochemists, (geo)microbiologists and hydro(geo)logists.

Applicants must hold an M.Sc. degree in a biogeoscience or environmental engineering discipline. The ideal candidate should have an in-depth understanding of biogeochemistry and microbial ecology and environmental physics. Preference will be given to candidates with demonstrated skills and experience in experimental work. The position is to be filled by September 2023, the deadline to apply is June 30, 2023. 

For further information, please contact Prof. Adrian Mellage ( To apply for the position please follow the application link to the University of Kassel’s recruitment website ( and follow the instructions therein. The application should consist of a single PDF file that contains:
(1)    Your motivation for applying to the position and your research interests (1 pg.)
(2)    Curriculum vitae
(3)    Copy of transcript(s)


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