PhD candidate, geochemical composition of single dust particles in ice cores - Bern, Switzerland

In the framework of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) DEEPICE project, the Division for Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland, seeks an Early Stage Researcher (PhD candidate) in Climate Science to study the geochemical composition of single dust particles in ice cores.


This position is limited to three years.

The candidate for this position can have any nationality but must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc) in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before the recruitment date.

The candidate will be employed by the University of Bern according to standard University rules, the annual salary will be ca. 52300 CHF. In addition, an annual mobility allowance of ca. 7900 CHF and, if applicable, a family allowance of 3300 CHF will be paid to DEEPICE early stage researchers.

The PhD candidate will become part of the Graduate School of Climate Sciences of the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern, of which the Division for Climate and Environmental Physics is part.


Continuous Flow Analysis has become the gold standard for contamination-free analyses of dissolved tracers in ice cores and has been applied to reconstruct the atmospheric aerosol record over the last 800,000 years at the University of Bern.

The elemental composition of particulate dust has been much more difficult to measure. A novel inductively coupled plasma Time of Flight mass spectrometer (icpTOF) provides millisecond resolution records over a very large mass range which allows us to perform continuous single particle analysis on ice cores.

Application of this instrument in ice-core research has been pioneered by the University of Bern in recent years.

In this PhD project the candidate will improve the sensitivity and resolution of icpTOF analyses, develop automated evaluation routines for single dust particle detection and explore the full mass range of elements to be quantified.

The improved system will be used to measure Antarctic dust composition for selected intervals over the last 800,000 years and compared to other well established dust analytical methods.


The candidate must have a keen interest and solid knowledge in (paleo-)climate science and global biogeochemical cycles with a MSc in (environmental) physics, (biogeo-)chemistry, geo or climate science or a related field.

Apart from his/her own research, the candidate will be involved in the extensive DEEPICE training program including three summer schools and outreach activities and must be willing to spend an extended time at secondments with other DEEPICE partner institutions.

DEEPICE project overview

DEEPICE is a research and training network on understanding deep ice-core proxies to infer past Antarctic climate dynamics.

It is funded by the EU HORIZON2020 program and consists of 10 academic partner organizations from 10 European countries plus nine collaborating institutions from academia and industry.

In total, 15 early stage researchers (PhD students) will be employed after a competitive recruitment process and work together within the European DEEPICE consortium.

Each early-stage researcher will be supervised by his/her local main supervisor and a co-supervisor within the consortium. For each of the early stage researcher positions, a recruitment panel adhering to strict gender equality and equal opportunity rules will be set up consisting of the two supervisors and a third DEEPICE representative.

Selection criteria will include the potential as researchers, creativity, level of independence, teamwork ability, knowledge, communication experience, and availability for the intended start date.

Start date of the positions can be as early as July 2021 but all positions must be filled by October 2021.


Applications close 14 March 2021.

Interested students are asked to submit their application including a letter of motivation with a statement of their research interests, a curriculum vitae, their academic credentials, abstracts of the MSc and BSc theses and contact details of two academic referees via post to:

Prof. Dr. Hubertus Fischer
Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute
University of Bern
Sidlerstr. 5
CH-3012 Bern

Or via email to Prof. Dr. Hubertus Fischer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information

For additional information, please contact Prof. Dr. Hubertus Fischer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.