ETH Zurich
PhD position in Environmental Chemistry (Environmental Microbiology / Environmental Biochemistry)
ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich is one of the leading international universities for technology and the natural sciences. It is well known for its excellent education, ground-breaking fundamental research and for implementing its results directly into practice.
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Publicerad: 8 dagar sedan
Sista ansökningsdatum: aug 15
Plats: Zurich, Schweiz
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PhD position in Environmental Chemistry (Environmental Microbiology / Environmental Biochemistry)

The Environmental Chemistry Group (Dr. Michael Sander and Prof. Kristopher McNeill) at ETH Zurich invites applications for a
PhD position in Environmental Chemistry (Environmental Microbiology / Environmental Biochemistry)

The topic of the PhD project is: ‘Environmental fate of double stranded ribonucleic acid (dsRNA) plant-incorporated protectants from genetically modified crops’.

Pest control in agriculture heavily relies on the use of crops that are genetically modified to express insecticidal plant-incorporated protectants. The next generation of such genetically modified crops is currently coming to the market: RNAi crops. These produce double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) biopesticides that target specific insect pests feeding on the crops by a cellular regulation process called RNA interference. The use of RNAi crops will result in the release of dsRNA molecules to agricultural soils and surrounding water bodies. The environmental fate of these dsRNA molecules remains poorly studied and understood. Yet, fate information is urgently needed for ecological risk assessment of dsRNA biopesticides. The overall goal of this project is to investigate processes that govern dsRNA environmental fate in agricultural soils.

The PhD project aims at overcoming existing knowledge deficits on the fate of dsRNA molecules in agricultural soils by systematically investigating two major fate processes: sorption of dsRNA molecules to mineral and organic soil particle surfaces and the abiotic and biotic transformation of dsRNA molecules in soils. The focus will be on laboratory experiments carried out under well-controlled conditions to identify (i) the major interactions governing dsRNA adsorption and (ii) the reaction mechanisms involved in dsRNA transformation. The project aims at advancing our mechanistic understanding of dsRNA fate in soils, and will improve our ability to assess the long-term stability and fate of dsRNA molecules in soils.

The PhD student will have access to state-of-the art experimental systems and analytical techniques. The PhD student will further gain experience in developing new methods to characterize the fate of emerging biopesticides in environmental systems. In addition, the student will develop expertise in the underlying principles and concepts that determine the behavior of biomacromolecules in soils. Beyond these immediate outcomes, the PhD project is expected to advance our general understanding of the fate of genetic material in the environment. The project is part of a larger research focus within the Environmental Chemistry group at ETHZ on the fate of biomacromolecules (including proteins, viruses, polymers and genetic material) in natural Systems.

We are looking for highly motivated candidates that should hold a MSc or Diploma degree (or equivalent) in environmental sciences, microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, chemistry, chemical engineering, or a related field. The candidate should have a strong interest in the environmental chemistry of macromolecules, soil chemistry, environmental microbiology, and/or molecular biology. Good communication skills in English (written and spoken) and the ability to work in a team are essential. Employment will be according to standard regulations at ETHZ (funding secured for 3 years). While the primary workspace will be in the Environmental Chemistry group at ETHZ, the work will be conducted in close collaborations with researchers in RNA biology group at ETHZ and in Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. The project will start in the fall/winter of 2017 or as soon as possible thereafter.
We look forward to receiving your online application including a curriculum vitae, a brief statement of research interests (1 page), copies of bachelor and master transcripts, list of courses taken and grades received, a summary of the master thesis (if completed/applicable), and names and contact information for or reference letters from 2-3 referees. Evaluation of applicants will start August 15th 2017 and will continue until the position is filled.
Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. Should you run into difficulties when submitting your application please send an email to recruitingsupport@ethz.ch for advice.

For further information about the research group please visit our website http://www.envchem.ethz.ch/people/sanderm.html. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr. Michael Sander by mail michael.sander@env.ethz.ch (no applications) or phone +41 44 632 8314.

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