PhD Scholarship Position in Geomicrobiology

The HAI Project is a joint undertaking to bring together the research power of the Helmholtz Association and the University of Alberta to tackle the most pressing issues around ensuring the more sustainable use of Alberta’s oil sands resource.
The project comprises six inter-related research themes, which address key challenges encountered in making the entire life-cycle of oil sands production and utilization more sustainable. Because of the similarity of key issues these topics are also very germane to coal operations, which are of also great relevance to both Alberta and Germany.  The six themes are:

1.Advanced upgrading and conversion processes for bitumen and heavy hydrocarbons
2.Advanced materials for CO2 separations in bitumen and coal streams
3.Monitoring technologies for geological sequestration of carbon dioxide
4.Low enthalpy geothermal energy for enhance oil sands production
5.Oil sands tailings water management
6.Remediation, Recultivation and Reclamation of Oil Sands and Coal Mining Disturbances

The project at the University of Potsdam is part of research theme six and focuses on the role of microbial activity in the newly developing soils, with special emphasis on the rhizosphere. The work is carried out in close collaboration with the Organic Geochemistry Group of the GFZ Potsdam. Research at GFZ will focus on the geochemical characterisation of the natural organic matter, as well as the carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of individual hydrocarbons in order to characterize the microbial community and its relevant metabolic processes.
Research at the University of Potsdam will focus on direct measurements of turnover processes by using either stable or radioisotopes, thereby tracing pathways of specific compounds through the chain of biogeochemical transformations. Additionally, molecular biological techniques will be used to characterize the microbial community.

We are looking for an enthusiastic and creative person with a Diploma or MSc. degree in geosciences, environmental sciences, soil sciences, chemistry, (micro) biology, biochemistry, or molecular microbial ecology. Candidate without a degree in Geosciences will be required to take some basic earth science courses. Fluency in English is a prerequisite, basic knowledge of German is an asset.

The tentative starting date is September 1st, 2010, review of applications will start immediately until the position is filled. Applicants should send a cover letter with motivation for this project, CV, a statement of research interest and the name and email address of two referees, to Dr. Jens Kallmeyer, University of Potsdam, Earth and Enviromental Sciences, Karl-Liebknecht Str. 25, Haus 27, D-14476 Potsdam, Germany, or preferably by email to

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