Open PhD position in remote sensing of genetically relevant forest traits (Ref: URPP-U1)

We invite applications for a PhD position in remote sensing of genetically relevant forest traits. The University of Zurich (UZH) Research Priority Programme (URPP) on Global Change and Biodiversity (GCB) is an established interdisciplinary research program ( Biodiversity is both a response variable affected by global change drivers and a factor modifying ecosystem processes and services that are essential to human well-being. An improved capability to predict the consequences of changes in drivers will aid improved prediction of the state of the environment. The URPP GCB implements innovative avenues in this research domain by using a latitudinal gradient approach based on interactions, feedback and scale, to provide a more reliable and robust knowledge of global change processes. Global change (namely land use change, climate change,  invasions, exploitation, and pollution) influences biodiversity and vice versa. We are looking for a motivated candidate, capable of doing research at the disciplinary boundaries of ecology, genetics and remote sensing. We  therefore invite applications for a PhD position in remote sensing of genetically relevant forest traits. This project will link remotely sensed trait information of forests across a range of forested test sites (from boreal to temperate to tropical) to phylogenies and genetic structure to derive partial taxonomies of tree communities in nature and glasshouses. Remote sensing technologies to be used include imaging spectroscopy and laser scanning across a range of scales.

The successful applicant will be based in Zurich and embedded in a supervisory team including Felix Morsdorf ( and Michael Schaepman ( You will work in the Department of Geography, which hosts several research groups working on a variety of topics assessing the key drivers of global change and biodiversity.

To apply, all applicants must have a completed master’s degree in either environmental science, ecology, remote sensing or a closely related science field. Applicants must be able to work with statistical tools and scripting languages (i.e. Matlab, Python, R). Experience in performing lab work (e.g. HPLC, microsatellites) is an asset, but not required. Candidates are expected to conduct field work and glasshouse research. A high standard of  written and spoken English is mandatory. The position can start as soon as a suitable candidate is found. Salaries correspond to the UZH regulations of PhD salaries.

We are looking for a highly motivated, enthusiastic and independent person with a passion for science to join our team. We offer outstanding working conditions, a high quality of life in Zurich, and an excellent support environment. Please upload your application (including position reference URPP-U1) (motivation letter, complete CV, and names of 2 references) Selection of  candidates will begin 20 January 2019. Preferred starting date in Zurich is March 2019 or upon agreement. For further questions, please contact