PhD in environmental chemistry & cheminformatics: Switzerland/Germany

Eawag, Switzerland and enviPath UG & Co.KG, Germany are offering a PhD scholarship in environmental chemistry and cheminformatics with expected commencement May 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD will be awarded by the University of Zurich, Switzerland. This is a 36-month PhD fellowship offered in the frame of the MSCA-ITN-H2020 project ARISTO (The European Industry – Academia Network for RevIsing and Advancing the Assessment of the Soil Microbial TOxicity of Pesticides).

Project title: Development of tools for in silico prioritization of pesticide TPs for soil microbial ecotoxicity testing

Project description: Pesticide transformation may lead to the formation of transformation products (TPs) that are equally or more toxic than the parent compound. The introduction of advanced analytical tools, e.g., high-resolution mass spectrometry, has enabled a more accurate annotation of the transformation pathways of pesticides. Based on these data, in silico tools have been developed that support the prediction of TPs for analytical suspect screening and also risk assessment purposes. The objectives of the project are to optimize enviPath, a publically available model for prediction of pesticides TPs jointly developed by Eawag and enviPath UG & Co.KG, and to expand it with in silico tools for predicting the soil microbial toxicity of pesticide TPs. Predictions will be validated for selected pesticides with experimental biotransformation studies carried out by the PhD student in collaboration with other fellows in the ARISTO project. The project will thus contain experimental work (including batch assays with activated sludge and soil, analytical chemistry) but its emphasis will lie on developing cheminformatics tools for transformation and toxicity prediction based on existing databases and new data generated within the ARISTO project. The fellowship involves interaction with other PhD students in the ARISTO network and secondments to other partners and beneficiaries of the project as described below.

Principal supervisor: Prof. Kathrin Fenner,, +41-587655058 and T. Lorsbach,

Planned secondments: (i) to INRAE, France. Supervisor: Dr. F. Martin-Laurent, 2 months, Purpose: to establish mode-of-action based toxicity screening criteria for microorganisms; (ii) to Syngenta Crop Protection AG, Switzerland, Supervisor: Dr. Claudio Screpanti, 1 month, Purpose: Soil cassette testing of relevant pesticides in the project.

Key criteria for the assessment of candidates

  • A master’s degree related to the subject area of the project
  • The grade point average achieved should be more than 75 % of the maximum
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme  (Relevant skills: environmental chemistry, cheminformatics, analytical chemistry)
  • Previous research publications
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills: fluency in English

Place of Employment

  1. Eawag, Environmental Chemistry Department, Dübendorf, Switzerland
  2. enviPath UG & Co.KG, Ockenheim, Germany

Application Procedure
For this particular position the application, in English, must be submitted by mail to the coordinator and via the Eawag recruiting tool at

Formal requirements and eligibility for all available positions
At the time of commencement, it is required that the candidate shall at the date of recruitment, be in the first four years (full time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Furthermore, the candidate must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the countries where the hosting organizations are located for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.

Terms of employment
Recruitment and Terms of appointment will be done according to the rules and regulations of the hosting institutions and according to the rules and regulations laid down by European Union’s Horizon 2020 Marie Curie Initial Training Networks. The stipend includes a living allowance (3270 €, adjusted by a country correction factor), mobility allowance (600 €) and family allowance (500 €), the latter allowance depending on the family status of the fellow. All PhD fellowships available involves a split PhD studentship between an academic and an industrial partner, while the fellow will also spend time to other partners through short secondments.

Application Procedure
The application, in English, must be submitted by email to the supervisors of each advertised position and the coordinator of the project You are encouraged to apply for more than one of the available positions. In this case please indicate the position for which you are applying.

For your application please include

  • Motivation Letter, stating which PhD project you are applying, why you want to pursue a PhD career in academic and industrial sectors, and to what extent does the given project complies with your skills and ambition.
  • A statement if (and which) you have applied for other ARISTO PhD fellowships
  • Full CV including studies, research experience, work experience and publications if any
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • 3 professional referees (Name, address, telephone & email)
  • Documentation of English language qualifications
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