PhD-Candidate “Occurrence and fate of microplastics in the Southern Ocean”

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Very recent studies indicate that microplastics (MP) is present in the Southern Ocean, however, many questions are open, such as: What type of MP are present, and in which region and compartments of the ocean? Is there evidence for MP originating outside of Antarctic waters? The research group man-society-environment of the University of Basel will explore in this project MP occurrence and distribution in water, sediment and possibly also in icecores and biota. The MP will be analysed in terms of its physical and chemical characteristics, such as polymer composition and size. To obtain further insights into the origins and impacts of MP, the PhD project is part of a larger inter and transdisciplinary international project where the microbial community composition and the load of organic persistent pollutants will be studied and a comparison to MP from southern gyres will be conducted.

Your position

 Study of microplastics occurrence and distribution in the Southern Ocean

 Characterisation of microplastics from various compartments, such as water surface, water column, sediment, possibly biota.

 Contribution to the inter- and transdiscplinary evaluation of results of all project partners to assess the origin and entry pathways of microplastics in the Southern Ocean

Your profile

 Master’s degree in environmental sciences or other natural science studies

 Knowledge of methods for field work is appreciated, especially knowledge of methods on investigation of microplastics (e.g. sampling methods, FTIR or Raman spectroscopy, etc.)

 Knowledge and experience in quantitative methods and statistics

 Enthusiasm, responsibility, flexibility and independently working

 Ability to work in different teams and build network

 Field-working ability

We offer you

 4 year position, starting September 2018 (negotiable)

 Integration in two active and dynamic research units with experience on microplastics studies (Dr. G. Gerdts, AWI, Helgoland, Prof. Dr. P. Holm, University of Basel)

 Modern research facilities and scientific environment, in Basel and in labs of project partners in Helgoland, Alfred-Wegener-Institute

 Participation in research expedition(s) to the Southern Ocean

 An atmosphere of collaboration and cooperativeness including weekly discussion of results

 Support with technical assistance

 The possibility to teach in the Master of Sustainable Development program (

 Participation at conferences with presentations of own contributions

 Support in publishing results in peer-reviewed journals

Application / Contact

Prof. Dr. Patricia Holm, Universität Basel, Dept. Environmental Sciences, Man-Society-Environment (MGU) Vesalgasse 1, CH-4051 Basel, Schweiz, Tel.: +41-61 207 04 02, E-mail: Dr. Gunnar Gerdts, Shelf Seas Systems Ecology, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for polar and marine research, Tel. +49-4725 819 3245, E-mail: Applicants are requested to submit a letter of motivation, CV and contact information of three potential referees in one single PDF document. Closing date: May, 15th 2018.


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