Three PhD positions are available at Ghent University (Belgium)

Three PhD positions are available at Ghent University (Belgium)

Project duration

4 years: October 1, 2012 –September 30, 2016

Application deadline

August 1, 2012


Ghent University is a partner in a new Inter-University Attraction Pole (IUAP) funded by Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO): “The soil system under global change” (SOGLO). This IUAP is coordinated by Université catholique de Louvain (Prof. B. van Wesemael) and also includes Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Universiteit Antwerpen and several reputed European research institutes and universities. The projects research sites are located in Greenland, Belgium, Spain and Ethiopia. The project is highly integrative and includes a total of 8 PhD positions and two post-doc positions.

Prof. Pascal Boeckx and Prof. Peter Finke of Ghent University (Belgium) are PI’s in the IUP for the following three topics:

A   Sensitivity of soil organic carbon to disturbance: temperature sensitivity of soil organic carbon in permafrost, tropical, Mediterranean and temperate soils will be assessed via determination of activation energy (Ea), Q10, enzyme activity and physical protection using laboratory incubations. Specifically for permafrost soils the age and source of the soil organic carbon used for CO2 and CH4 production and microbial biomass will be assessed via compound specific 13C and 14C analyses. This PhD-project covers WP2 in the below project summary and is in collaboration with Prof. R. Merckx from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

B    Reconstructing fluxes over time using novel techniques: this PhD will be carried out in collaboration with Prof. G. Govers (main promotor) from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. The overall objective of this PhD research is to develop and implement novel compound specific stable isotope techniques (13C in fatty acids) and fall out radionuclides (7Be, 137Cs, 210Pb) to identify and quantify erosion sources. This PhD-project covers WP3 in the below project summary.

C  Modelling of soil evolution:  An existing model that simulates varying soil formation processes and predicts depth distributions of OC, texture, pH, base saturation over multi-millennium timescales will be adapted so that it includes more chemical species, biomass production by crops and natural vegetation and associated element cycles at the pedon scale. This model will be calibrated and applied onto the research sites in the project. Therefore, cooperation with the data collection subprojects is foreseen. Interest in biogeochemistry, computer programming and statistics are an asset. This PhD-project covers WP5 in the below project summary.

Please send your further information requests and application to:

PhD A and B

Pascal Boeckx

Isotope Bioscience Laboratory, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University
Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Phone: +3292646000




Peter Finke

Department of Geology and Soil Science, Faculty of Sciences, Ghent University
Krijgslaan 281 S8
Phone: +3292644630


Applicants for these three PhD positions will be selected based on academic records, recommendations, applied research interests and compatibility of background with the research field.

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