PhD Position "Identifying chemical controls on organic matter aggregation" (m/f/d)

Bremerhaven, Bremen (DE)
TVöD Bund, up to salary level 13 (66%)
Jun 19, 2020
Jul 31, 2020
Contract Type
Part Time
Job Type
PhD / Doctoral

The Ecological Chemistry Section in the Department of Biosciences is focusing on the structural and functional complexity of chemical constituents in marine systems and investigates the role of organic molecules in biological and geochemical processes.

The biological pump and its transport of particulate organic matter (POM) from the photic zone to the ocean floor are key regulators of the transfer of atmospheric CO2 to long-term storage of carbon. Organic matter produced by phytoplankton and bacteria undergoes aggregation and binds to particles (e.g., cells and detritus), which contribute to deposition of carbon and creates a major sink in the global carbon cycle. Despite of the significant role of aggregation, very little is known about the accumulation rates or binding mechanisms driving the formation of colloidal matter, macromolecules and particle sinking. The primary goal of this project is to link analytical chemical data with mechanistic numerical models to quantify carbon fluxes between dissolved and particulate organic matter for key polar primary producers (e.g. Melosira arctica). We seek to predict how changes to the chemical composition of organic matter affect carbon export.

Our team:
You will be part of the Ecological Chemistry section at the AWI in Bremerhaven, working under the supervision of experts in the fields of analytical chemistry, natural products chemistry, ecology, modelling and physiology. You will have access to outstanding analytical facilities (HPLC, LCMS, HR-LC-MS, NMR), state of the art clean room facilities and world-class infrastructure in a highly interdisciplinary environment.


  • Chemical characterization of Melosira arctica aggregates produced under various environmental conditions simulated in vitro: Molecular composition, structure, physicochemical properties of aggregates and empirical measurements of their formation
  • Chemical class dependent characterization of aggregation processes of large macromolecular/colloidal clusters
  • Development of accurate models for the transformation processes from single molecule to aggregates and/or particles depending on their chemical properties and composition


  • MSc in Analytical Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry, Environmental Sciences or related fields.
  • Strong expertise in Analytical chemistry (ideally structure elucidation using mass spectrometry, NMR) with keen interest in molecular modelling
  • Good English language skills and interest in working in an international and interdisciplinary team.

Further Information

For further information please contact Dr. Jan Tebben (; +49(0)471-4831-1086).

This position is limited to 3 years. The salary will be paid in accordance with the Collective Agreement for the Public Service of the Federation (Tarifvertrag des öffentlichen Dienstes, TVöD Bund), up to salary level 13 (66%). The place of employment will be Bremerhaven.

All doctoral candidates will be members of AWI’s postgraduate program POLMAR or another graduate school and thus benefit from a comprehensive training program and extensive support measures.

The AWI is characterised by

  • our scientific success - excellent research.
  • collaboration and cooperation - intra-institute, national and international, interdisciplinary.
  • opportunities to develop – on the job, aiming at other positions and beyond AWI.
  • a culture of reconciling work and family – an audited and well-supported aspect of our operation
  • our outstanding research infrastructure – ships, stations, aircraft, laboratories and more.
  • an international environment – everyday contacts with people from all over the world.
  • having an influence – fundamental research with social and political relevance
  • flat hierarchies – facilitating freedom and responsibility
  • exciting science topics, with opportunities also in technology, administration and infrastructure

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of female employees and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply.

Disabled applicants will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement.

We look forward to your application!

Please forward your application by July 31st 2020 exclusively online with the standard documentation (letter of motivation, CV, publication list if applicable and contact information of two referees).
Reference number: 20/82/G/Bio-b

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