Quick facts

    • Basel
  • Full time
  • Recruitment


  • Earth science
  • Environmental science


  • Phd

Apply by: 2023-10-15

PhD position in Hydrogeology & Agricultural Water Management

Published 2023-09-19

The Hydrogeology research group at the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University of Basel aims to improve the conceptual and quantitative understanding of surface water-groundwater interactions and hydrogeological systems via state-of-the-art integrated surface-subsurface hydrological modelling and hydrological tracer methods. An improved conceptual and quantitative understanding of surface water-groundwater interactions is crucial for sustainable water management, e.g., in the context of agriculture or drinking water production, especially in light of the ever increasing anthropogenic and climate-induced changes to our environment (http://hydrogeo.duw.unibas.ch).

Your position

Mountainous countries like Switzerland are overproportionally affected by climate change, with temperature rise and increasing weather extremes such as heat waves, droughts, and torrential rainfalls already being more pronounced than elsewhere. Under these circumstances, water supply is becoming a major challenge for agriculture, be it for crop production or animal husbandry. In addition, water in mountain communities becomes increasingly scarce during summer months. This is where the Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture FOAG-funded "Slow Water" project comes in: In 3 hydrologically and geographically distinct pilot regions of Switzerland, farm-specific, catchment-related water retention strategies are to be developed together with municipalities and farmers, and their impacts assessed. Within the "Slow Water" project consortium, which besides the University of Basel consists of regional authorities, municipalities, farming associations and the private sector, you will be in charge of the scientific research on suitability and impacts of the different water retention strategies.
Specifically, you will be tasked with the monitoring, analysis, and evaluation of different hydromorphological water retention measures using state-of-the-art ecohydrological and hydrogeological techniques. A core part of your work will consist of numerical simulations of the water retention measures and the pilot region sites with an integrated surface-subsurface hydrological model, and the coupling of these hydrological simulations with a crop simulation model. In addition, you will have to characterize the pilot hydrological catchments both hydro(geo)logically and geographically, which will encompass a significant amount of field work. Depending on your personal interests and skills, you may define additional research goals within this larger project framework.

Your profile

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a self-organized and solution-oriented work attitude. Applicants should hold a MSc in Geosciences, Environmental sciences or engineering, Hydrogeology, Agricultural sciences, or related fields. Very good written and spoken English is a must, knowledge of German a plus. Candidates should be able and willing to conduct fieldwork over extended periods of time, be prepared to interact frequently with farmers, practitioners, and authorities, and hold a valid driver's license. The successful candidate should have strong analytical skills, and bring along experience in hydrogeology, programming (Python), and field work. Knowledge of integrated hydrological modelling and hydrological tracers is a plus.

We offer you

The PhD position is fully funded for four years. As the research project is a collaborative effort between two young and dynamic research groups (i.e., the Land Use Changes and the Hydrogeology groups) and hosted at the very interdisciplinary Department of Environmental Sciences of University of Basel, you will be able to work in a scientifically highly stimulating environment. You will moreover be integrated in the Swiss Water-Earth Systems PhD School, which groups the over 40 international PhD students that study water-related subjects at the Swiss universities.

Application / Contact
We accept online applications only, use the link below to access the online application form. Your application should include a motivation letter (max. 1 page), a CV, a copy of your MSc diploma, contact details of at least two references, and, if applicable, a description of a research project that you conducted or contributed to, stating the projects rationale, results, and your contribution (max. half page).
For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Oliver Schilling, oliver.schilling@unibas.ch. Review of applications will begin October 15th, 2023, but the position will remain open until filled.