PhD position in virus ecology: EPFL, Switzerland

The Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry (LCE) in the Environmental Engineering Institute at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland is seeking a PhD student to investigate the mechanisms influencing the local adaptation of marine and freshwater viruses.

Viruses are the most abundant and diverse biological entities in the aquatic ecosystems. Not only do viruses represent the largest genetic pool in the nature, but they also play important ecological roles. For example, aquatic viruses greatly influence the abundance and diversity of their host species. In addition, viruses modulate the global biogeochemical cycles by mobilizing nutrients, and might be involved in environmentally induced diseases, such as coral bleaching. In recent years, the knowledge on aquatic viral ecology has greatly expanded, however the specific factors that underpin viral dynamics and local adaptation are not well characterized. In order to anticipate the impact of climate change and water pollution on viral communities, it is of major importance to comprehend how environmental and genetic factors interplay in determining the spatio-temporal distribution, functioning and evolution of viruses.

Project objectives

  • Characterize how biotic (namely grazing) and abiotic (climatic variables) factors lead to the diversity and adaptation of aquatic viruses in marine and freshwater ecosystems.
  • In addition, we also aim to evaluate the ecotoxicological effects of water pollution (e.g. discharge of sewage) in the studied viral communities and their hosts.

Person requirements

  • We are looking for highly motivated candidates with a Masters degree in environmental sciences or ecology, biology, chemistry or a related field, and with a strong interest in microbial ecology.
  • For this project, we will use a combination of different virology tools (molecular biology, experimental evolution, reverse genetics, sequencing) and field work.
  • The group language is English, therefore a good command of both spoken and written English is essential.

Job application

To apply, please send the following documents as a single pdf file (2 MB maximum) to

  • letter of motivation
  • your CV
  • the name and contact information of at least two references
  • 1-2 page summary of your Masters thesis
  • transcript of the grades from your Masters degree
Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry at EPFL
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