Ph.D. position: effects of climate change and stress events on emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds from plants

Emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds from vegetation are a chief precursor for the growth of secondary organic aerosols, and for the formation of ozone in the troposphere. Emissions also respond strongly to changes in atmospheric composition and climate in a number of direct (response of leaf emissions to warmer temperature and light environment) and indirect (changes in vegetation productivity and vegetation cover) ways. As such these emissions play an important role in understanding the chemistry-climate system, and surface-atmosphere feedbacks. However, a number of crucial processes and emission responses to environmental changes are only poorly understood. 

We seek

a Ph.D. student to specifically address effects of multiple abiotic stresses (e.g., temperature, water, nutrients) on BVOC emissions under different levels of ambient CO2. Effects of biotic stress may also be explored. The experimental work will be conducted on plants grown in the climate-controlled greenhouse facility of the KIT Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/Atmospheric Environmental Research in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (IMK-IFU; The work will combine on-line measurements of leaf photosynthesis, transpiration and BVOC emissions, with sampling of BVOC on adsorbent tubes for later analysis in the laboratory, using gas-chromatography and mass-spectrometer systems. The project is done in close collaboration with the University of Innsbruck, as well as with a number of other institutions in Europe. The appointee must be willing to visit partner institutions, and have very good spoken and written skills in communicating in the English language. 


We offer a position in a young and active team that is placed within a multi-disciplinary, collaborative research environment with excellent research infrastructure and support. We are well connected to national and international research programmes. Salary and benefits will be based on the Collective Agreement for the German Public Service Sector. The Ph.D. position will be for a maximum period of three years. The student will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of courses, for instance offered by the Research School MicMOR ( 


M.Sc. degree in a quantitative environmental sciences discipline, for instance biology, meteorology, or environmental physics. Proven knowledge of plant ecophysiology. Applications from candidates who are close to completion of their M.Sc. degree will also be considered

Aptitude to learn, understand and work with complex analytical instruments (mass-spectrometers, leaf gas-exchange systems), and to contribute to the instrument maintenance and calibration

Experience in data-analysis and statistical software and in processing measurement results; good quantitative skills to synthesise results for development of process-based mathematical algorithms

Sense of responsibility, ability to meet deadlines, enjoyment of working within a multi-disciplinary team

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is the fusion of the former University of Karlsruhe and the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe. This makes KIT a unique institution in Germany, combining the missions of a university and that of a national research centre in the Helmholtz-Association. With a staff of 8000 and an annual budget of EUR 650 Mio., KIT ranks among the largest institutions of research and higher learning worldwide.


including curriculum vitae, certificates, short outline of own interests and skills regarding the position’s profile, and the contact information of one to two professional referees shall be addressed to Prof. Almut Arneth; head of Division Ecosystem-Atmosphere-Interactions Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/ Atmospheric Environmental Research; Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT/IMK-IFU); Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.


Complete applications received by 12 January 2013 will receive full consideration but the position will remain open until a suitable candidate has been identified.

KIT strives to achieve gender balance at all levels of employment. We therefore particularly encourage female candidates to apply for this position. With appropriate qualifications, applications from persons with handicaps will be treated with preference.





























Could not connect: Array