PhD Position in Response (esr 08): Towards Improving Forage Productivity Under Future Climates

LocationZurich, Zurich region, Switzerland

Your Mission

PhD Position in RESPONSE (ESR 08): Towards improving forage productivity under future climates

Within the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie grant agreement No 847585, ETH Zurich is offering a 36-month PhD position for an early-stage researchers (ESR) in in the area of sustainable food systems.

Job description

We are looking for PhD candidate working in the Molecular Plant Breeding group at ETH Zurich. The ESR will work towards developing a high throughput method for screening response of grasses to water deficit. Moreover, this project aims to deliver a tool which predicts agronomic performance in field under drought stress. This will include novel phenotyping technology coupled with quantitative genetics, providing a basis for the improvement of cultivars by marker-assisted selection. Specifically the ESR will phenotype elite germplasm from the genera Lolium and Festuca. From these results, populations will be developed (with genetic data) with a view to identify quantitative trait loci underpinning plant response to water stress. With a view to using these technologies for crop improvement. Thus offering the ESR practical experience in plant phenotyping, molecular genetics, crop modelling and quantitative genetics.

A planned secondment (i.e. internship) of 12 month at Barenbrug Tourneur Recherches in Mas Grenier (France) is part of this project. During this secondment, the ESR will evaluate the correlation of lab-based data with agronomic performance. To achieve this the student will be working closely with plant breeders, providing the best opportunity to exploit the results for practical breeding. Barenbrug Tourneur Recherches offers excellent facilities and expertise for this, namely; rainout shelters to evaluate field performance and pollination control and seed multiplication equipment. This will provide the student with hand on experience in applied breeding in an international company.

The results from this project are expected to be communicated in scientific journals. In addition, the results will be presented to plant breeders and scientists at international conferences. Our group is also committed to communicating results with a broad audience using social media and public outreach events. Ultimately, this project offers a direct link with advanced phenotyping and molecular genetics together with a strong focus on crop improvement through practical breeding.

We are offering an interesting position at the interface of science and policy. While working in an international, interdisciplinary and innovative research environment at ETH Zurich, the ESR will be jointly co-supervised by Prof. Dr. Bruno Studer (ETH Zurich) and Dr. Stephane Charrier (Royal Barenbrug Group).

The successful candidate will be matriculated and will have a working contract at ETH Zurich. He/she will work in Switzerland. The secondment will take place in Barenbrug Tourneur Recherches (Mas Grenier, France).

The complete 36 months will be under 100% working contracts.

Expected starting date of the working contract: 01.02.2020

This program offers a three-year full-time position according to the PhD salary regulations of the University Zurich and according to EU regulations for Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Early Stage Researchers. The gross salary will not be lower than CHF 3920.

RESPONSE Doctoral Programme (DP) «RESPONSE - to society and policy needs through plant, food and energy sciences» is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 847585. RESPONSE DP builds on the academic expertise of three world-leading institutions - ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Basel. The successful candidate will be integrated in the research network and infrastructure of the internationally renowned competence center Energy Science Center .

All RESPONSE ESRs will follow the PSC PhD Program Science and Policy that is unique in its kind. Through the curriculum of this program, ESR will be trained in the communication of scientific evidence to policy-makers and the public; the involvement of different stakeholder groups as well as in policy development and endorsement in Europe and at global scale.

Your profile

RESPONSE is open to applicants of any nationality.

We are looking for a motivated, outgoing person. To perform successfully, potential candidates should have strong interest in: plant breeding, quantitative genetics and statistics. Good writing and communication skills are also essential. In addition, skills in R statistical environment are desirable.

Language requirement: English / Proficient oral and written English skills are expected. French and/or German is desirable.

Main Research Field: Quantitative genetics

Sub Research Field: statistics, applied plant breeding

Eligibility: Early stage researcher in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers, including the period of research training, starting at the date of obtaining the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the initial training activities are provided.

At the time of recruitment (for call 1 = December 1, 2019) by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the reference date. Compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.


For submitting your online application, select PhD program Science and Policy. The online application should contain all information as indicated by the application portal. Moreover, the following documents have to be uploaded under “further documents”: 1) a letter of motivation to join a) RESPONSE DP and b) to apply for a specific positon (Project title), 2) a comprehensive CV, and 3) transcripts of records. Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For project, programme and application details, ?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> . For questions and further information on the position, please contact Prof. Dr. Bruno Studer (no applications).


In your application, please refer to and reference JobID 45837.