PhD student in Soil Fauna Effects on Soil Organic Matter Stability

Workplace: Institute of Soil Biology and Biogeochemistry
Department: Biogeochemistry Section
Laboratory: Soil Biochemistry
Employment relationship: Employment contract
Job type: Researcher
Researcher profile: R1
Duration: Fixed-term
Job status: Part-time
Application deadline: 31. 3. 2024


Fauna is highly abundant in soils worldwide, and its potential to influence biogeochemical cycles has been recognized. Surprisingly little, however, is known about how soil fauna affects the formation and stability of soil organic matter, which supports life and plant growth, and stores vast amounts of carbon. This key knowledge gap hampers our understanding and modeling of global biogeochemical cycles and thus effective and sustainable management of soils in the face of global change.

Project description
The PhD project, funded by the Czech Academy of Sciences, will tackle the above highlighted research gaps in various experiments that will mainly focus on how earthworms, nematodes, and springtails, individually and in combination with each other, affect the proportion and formation of particulate and mineral-associated organic matter. The research will be conducted on various scales, including laboratory experiments at the Biology Centre CAS (https://www.upb.cas.cz/en/), an Ecotron experiment at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, and field experiments in the Global Change Experimental Facility of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany. The successful candidate will perform physical fractionation of soil, biomarker (amino sugars) and DNA extractions, conduct gas-chromatographic measurements, and will be involved in setting up and maintaining laboratory and field experiments.


Min. education level: Master’s degree
Field of education: Soil science

We are seeking a motivated individual with a strong interest in soil organic matter dynamics.
The successful candidate should have:
• a master’s degree in soil science or a related field
• previous experience in soil organic matter dynamics and stability and/or related to soil fauna
• previous experience in statistical analysis of data, preferably in R
• previous experience in biomarker extraction and gas-chromatographic analyses is a plus
• organizational skills, reliability, and a sense of responsibility
• the ability to fluently communicate in English
• good interpersonal skills and effective time management


We offer:
• Challenging work that will push the frontiers of soil science
• Above-average PhD salary
• Part-time position

Our benefits:
• 5 weeks of paid holiday yearly (for 1 FTE)
• Subsidized lunches in our own canteen
• Standard health insurance and social security
• Benefits from Social fund and student benefits
• Working in a stable, prestigious research institution of international importance
• Welcome service and further support for foreigners (HR Award)
• Friendly & stimulating international working environment
• Work-life balance in a middle-sized university city offering options for outdoor, sport & cultural activities
• Free language classes (Czech for foreigners, English for Czechs)
• Opportunity to take part in mentoring programmes as a mentor or a mentee
• Concessionary services at the contractual operator and bank
• Access to accommodation in dormitories at the campus shared by the BC and the USB


Duration of the job contract is four years (April 2024 – March 2028). Start is possible by agreement.

The Biology Centre is located in České Budějovice (2 hours south of the capital Prague), a middle-sized city with ca. 100K inhabitants, relaxed atmosphere, over 750 years of tradition and a breathtaking countryside around. Both the town and the surrounding countryside provide numerous opportunities for research and leisure activities. There is also a growing international expert community at the Biology Centre CAS (BC CAS) and the University of South Bohemia (USB). In addition, the living costs are still low by international standards. Check out our Guide for Expats (https://www.bc.cas.cz/en/employees) to read about life in the city and the Czech Republic.

The Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences holds the HR Award. Our selection process meets European standards for recruitment of researchers (https://www.bc.cas.cz/en/employees/candidates/otm-r/) and we provide our employees from abroad with welcome service (visa application, administration, relocation & settlement support). Gender equality plan (https://www.bc.cas.cz/en/about-us/gender-equality) has been accepted in 2022.


Applications, consisting of a cover letter and a CV including a summary of previous work experience and education, should be submitted via our official website: https://jobs.bc.cas.cz/en/detail/185

For additional information please contact Dr. Gerrit Angst: gerrit.angst@bc.cas.cz