PhD student (work on broad questions on terrestrial ecology and global change research)

 Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry  Jena
ESR position 4
Deciphering the factors controlling the relationship between Ecosystem Functional Properties and sun-induced fluorescence and canopy reflectance in time and under different nutrient conditions using model-data integration approaches.

Start Date
During the period January 1st 2017 - March 1st 2017.
The candidate will be employed at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Biogeochemical Integration Department under the supervision by Dr. Mirco Migliavacca. The PhD student will visit Prof. Dr. Christiaan van der Tol (University of Twente), co-supervisor of the project. The PhD thesis will be discussed at the University of Milano-Bicocca, lead of the Trustee consortium.

Project description
The overarching objective of the ESR project is to explore the potential of high temporal resolution hyperspectral information and sun-induced fluorescence to detect changes in ecosystem functioning and their response to environmental conditions under different nutrient availability. The focus will be on the estimation of Ecosystem Functional Properties (EFPs) derived from the eddy covariance flux measurements using empirical or process based models (e.g. Maximum carboxylation capacity - Vcmax, Light Use Efficiency – LUE, maximum stomatal conductance), combined with plant traits and high temporal resolution hyperspectral information.

The study will be conducted for the majority in a tree-grass ecosystem manipulated with nutrients addition (MANIP and SMANIE experiments), and using data from the other sites of the Trustee consortium.

The specific objectives of the PhD program are:

- Definition and extraction of the EFPs from eddy covariance and chambers flux measurements (e.g. Maximum carboxylation capacity - Vcmax, Light Use Efficiency -; LUE, maximum stomatal conductance).

- Methodologies to directly estimate EFPs from hyperspectral data and sun-induced fluorescence estimates in the different study sites. In this phase the student will use jointly the radiative transfer model SCOPE and inversion techniques (e.g. machine learning ) using a variety of constrains.

- Deciphering the causes of variability of the relationship between EFPs and sun-induced fluorescence in space (e.g. nutrient availability) and time (structural changes vs functional traits). Evaluate the use high temporal of sun-induced fluorescence measurements to describe the physiological phenology of evergreen broadleaved forests at the experimental site.

Institute description
The Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) is a research institute of the German Max-Planck Society (MPG), founded in 1997. The MPI-BGC research mission is the investigation of the global biogeochemical cycles and their interaction with the climate system. The institute combines strong observational and process-based studies (soil carbon, plant community and growth, vegetation-atmosphere fluxes) with global scale modelling (e.g. vegetation dynamics, global carbon cycle, aerosol). Not only does the institute have an outstanding international reputation for its research success but it has a strong commitment to higher education and scientific training, housing 44 Ph.D. students from 13 countries and operating the International Max Planck Research School for global Biogeochemical Cycles in cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

The department of Biogeochemical Integration, where all Trustee activities will be embedded, focuses on biosphere-atmosphere interactions, coupling of biogeochemical cycles (e.g. water, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus) and the role of soils therein from ecosystem to global scale. The team of more than 26 scientists and 20 doctoral students comprises a large portfolio of expertise, such as Earth Observation, numerical modelling, computational statistics, machine learning, and model-data integration as well as eddy covariance, ecosystem physiological and soil ecological methods.

The PhD student will spend a visiting period of at least 3 months at the University of Twente, Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation under the Supervision of Prof. Dr Christiaan van der Tol.

Ideal candidate
The candidate will work on broad questions on terrestrial ecology and global change research. The ideal candidate we are seeking is a highly-motivated and collaborative PhD student with a background and interest in both, environmental and quantitative/computational sciences (e.g. geo-ecology, environmental science, biogeochemistry, biology, applied mathematics, physics, or computer science), experience or interest in field spectroscopy (ideally to measure sun induced fluorescence), and interest in radiative transfer modeling. Good skills in programming (Matlab, R, Phyton, or Julia) are assets as well as fluent English. The work will require regular travels to experimental sites and field-work (maintenance of the spectrometers, field spectroscopy, collection of plant traits, and sensor calibration).

The position is for 3 year and the conditions of employment follow the rules of the H2020 International Training Network.

How to apply:
How to apply
To apply for the position, please email the following documents to by the deadline: 12th December 2016.

i) A curriculum vitae, including contact details, education (at University level and other), work experience, prizes/awards, language skills, etc… (max. 2 pages). The CV should reflect a representative array of achievements and qualifications appropriate to the post for which application is being made.

ii) Official academic record of undertaken courses & grades for Bachelor (and Master if required in specific criteria) degree.

iii) A motivational letter in which the applicant describes his or her motivation to pursue postgraduate studies and to conduct the research project/s applied for. Mention the ESR project number or numbers (in the latter indicate order of preference if any) on your motivational letter and on the subject of the email.

iv) Contact details of three referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation.
Send application to
To apply for the position, please email the following documents to by the deadline: 12th December 2016.

For more information on this position, contact the hiring party: Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Phone: +49 3641 576281
While applying for the job please refer to jobvector and use the following reference number: ESR4 / TRuStEE

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