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PhD Student (f/m) „Quantification of the atmospheric radical budget in the photochemical degradation of organic compounds emitted by plants“

Advertising institute: IEK-8 - Troposphere
Reference number: 2017-144

The Institute for Energy and Climate Research, Troposphere (IEK-8) aims for understanding the chemical and physical processes in the troposphere that determine the chemical constituents of the atmosphere impacting air quality and climate. HOx-radicals (OH, HO2) play a central role in the chemical transformation of trace gases that are emitted by plants and by anthropogenic activities. Their small concentrations make their detection challenging. Quantification of their concentration in the atmosphere is essential to understand the photo-chemical processes that lead to the formation of secondary pollutants such as ozone and aerosol. IEK-8 is world-leading in the detection of HOx radicals achieved by custom-built laser spectroscopy instruments.

The Ph.D. student will work on the execution, evaluation and interpretation of experiments in the outdoor atmospheric simulation chamber SAPHIR at IEK-8. SAPHIR is one of the largest environmental chambers in the world, which allows for the investigation of photo-chemical processes at atmospheric conditions. Experiments will be performed as part of an EU project (ERC-Consolidator Grant Project). The goal of the project is to quantify the budget of radicals in in air mixtures that are representative for air in Europe, which is influenced by organic compounds from biogenic sources. The first part of experiments will deal with the seasonal variability and the second part with specific questions in the photo-chemical oxidation of organic compounds emitted by plants. The interpretation of experiments requires the measurement of a large number of trace gases. Therefore, experiments are performed in a team operating different instruments.

We are looking to recruit as soon as possible a

PhD Student (f/m) „Quantification of the atmospheric radical budget in the photochemical degradation of organic compounds emitted by plants“

Your Job:

  • Preparation, execution and evaluation of quality-assured HOx radical measurements performed by laser-spectroscopy in experiments in the atmospheric simulation chamber SAPHIR
  • Interpretation of experiments with the goal to quantify processes that determine the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere for conditions of the experiments
  • Comparison of measured HOx radical concentration time series to model calculations in order to improve atmospheric chemical models for air quality predictions

Your Profile:

  • Master degree in physics, chemistry, atmospheric sciences or a related field with good final grade (German system equivalent 2.0 or better)
  • Good skills in experimental work and willingness to do hands-on work with custom-built instruments
  • Knowledge of a programming language is helpful
  • Knowledge in physical chemistry, laser spectroscopy and atmospheric science is helpful
  • Good skills in the spoken and written English language

Our Offer:

  • Excellent scientific environment and technical facilities
  • Opportunities of being part of the national and international scientific community
  • Broad spectrum of training in the Graduate School HITEC http://www.hitec-graduate-school.de/ and the Forschungszentrum
  • International, interdisciplinary working environment on an attractive research campus, ideally situated between the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Aachen
  • A comprehensive further training programme, including English language courses
  • Flexible working hours and various opportunities to reconcile work and family life
  • Limited for 3 years
  • Salary and social benefits in conformity with the provisions of the Collective Agreement for the Civil Service (TVöD).


Forschungszentrum Jülich aims to employ more women in this area and therefore particularly welcomes applications from women.

We also welcome applications from disabled persons.

We look forward to receiving your application, preferably online via our online recruitment system on our career site, quoting the above-mentioned reference number.

Contact Human Resource Development
Anja Schurf
Tel.:+49 2461 61 9700


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