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University of Kassel, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Institute for Water, Waste, Environment (IWAU) – Hydrogeology Research Group

Research Assistant / Doctoral researcher in Hydrogeology (m/w/d), EG 13 TV-H, fixed-term contract (30 hours per week)

Closes: 30.06.2023
Date of Hire: 01.09.2023
Reference: 36209
This is a part-time position with 75 percent of the working hours of a full-time employee. This is a fixed term-position of three years with the opportunity of obtaining a doctoral degree in the field of environmental engineering (position for academic qualification corresponding to § 65 HessHG i. V. m. § 2 Abs. 1 Satz 1 WissZeitVG).

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, environmental engineering, or an equivalent discipline. (the degree required for this position must have been obtained by the starting date at the latest). Very good knowledge of English is required.

Applicants are requested to submit a single PDF file containing:
(1) Your motivation for applying to the position and your research interests (max. 1 page, written in English)
(2) Curriculum vitae (written in English)
(3) Copy of transcript(s)


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.

For further information please contact Prof. Dr. Adrian Mellage, adrian.mellage(at)uni-kassel.de.

Our offer:
As an employee of the University of Kassel

In addition, you will benefit from the advantages of employment in the public service such as:

You can find more jobs at stellen.uni-kassel.de

Please send your application with the usual informative documents, stating the reference number in the subject line, via the online form. We have compiled further information for you in our FAQ.

In exceptional cases, we will also accept your application documents in paper form addressed to: The President of the University of Kassel, 34109 Kassel, Germany, or via mail to bewerbungen[at]uni-kassel.de, stating the reference number.

In the case of postal applications, please submit only copies of your documents (no folders), as these cannot be returned. All documents will be destroyed after completion of the selection process in compliance with data protection regulations.

The protection of your personal information is very important to us, so we will handle your personal information with care. By your application, you allow us the storage and use in the sense of the Hessian Data Protection and Freedom of Information Act. You can object to this at any time. Your personal data will be deleted.

Information according to Art. 13 DSGVO for the application process at the University of Kassel can be found at:

Information and FAQ about applying for a job offer:

The University of Kassel is very interested in the professional satisfaction of its employees. It is distinguished as a family-friendly university and, in the interests of equal opportunities, strives to offer everyone the same opportunities for development and to counteract existing disadvantages. It promotes the Family Welcome Service and also the Dual Career Service for positions that are scientifically and academically filled. One of the strategic goals of the University of Kassel is to significantly increase the proportion of women in research and teaching. Applications from women are therefore particularly welcome. Seriously handicapped and equivalent applicants are given preference if they have the same suitability, qualifications and professional performance. Full-time positions are generally divisible (except when filling civil servant positions). Applications indicating the Position Number, which may be in digital form, should be sent to the President of the University of Kassel, 34109 Kassel, Germany quoting the applicable reference number.
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