PhD position, paleoecology/paleogenetics - Bern, Switzerland

Within the framework of a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), a four-year PhD position is available at the Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern, Switzerland.


The position is open from January 2020. Salary follows the SNSF standard for PhD students in Switzerland.


The overarching aim of the project is to study the impact of past climatic changes and anthropogenic disturbance on the range and genetic diversity of different tree species in the Swiss Alps.

This will be achieved by analyzing pollen, plant macrofossils and ancient DNA (aDNA) deposited in the sediment of two lakes since the end of the last Ice Age. The research will ultimately allow assessing the future genetic diversity of mountain forests under current climate change conditions.


As a PhD student, you will combine established paleoecological methods such as pollen, macrofossil and charcoal analyses with novel aDNA techniques and bioinformatic pipelines.

The position involves lake sediment coring in an alpine environment, microscopic analyses as well as labor-intensive aDNA extraction in a designated clean-air facility.

You will be working in a young, dynamic, ambitious and international team within the paleoecology section at the Institute of Plant Sciences in Bern. You will also extensively collaborate with other project partners at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) in Birmensdorf and the Natural History Museum of Geneva.


You are required to have a MSc in Natural Sciences, preferably in Biology, Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Earth Sciences or Quaternary Sciences.

Good knowledge in vegetation ecology and population genetics is desired. You are highly motivated, creative, reliable, independent, precise and like to work in team.

Preferably you already have experience in writing scientific articles and good communication and organization skills. A good command of English is fundamental, whereas knowledge of German is advantageous.


Please send your complete application, including motivation letter, CV, academic record, MSc diploma and reference letter or contact address of your MSc-supervisor as one pdf file to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. (This job will be removed from PAGES' website on 1 December 2019.)

Further information

Further information can be requested at the same email address or found at the following websites: