PhD positions (Environmental Sciences, Material Sciences) in a Junior Research Group (Social Ecology)

The Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE) is an independent institute that develops social-ecological concepts for sustainable development based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. In cooperation with Goethe University Frankfurt (GU) and Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research Mainz (MPI) the ISOE invites applications for  

PhD positions on social-ecological risks of plastics and their mitigation (Environmental Sciences, Material Sciences) in theJunior Research Group PlastX – Plastics as Systemic Risk for Social-Ecological Supply Systems

(65 %, 3-4.5 years, payment according to German law (TV-H/TVöD/TV-G-U))

The research group will focus on the role of plastics in society and its environmental implications. It pursues an inter- and transdisciplinary research approach with perspectives from natural and social sciences as well as from societal actors. Thus, besides the disciplinary research the members of the group will work on joint research questions regarding social-ecological risks of plastics. The research group is a joint project which is based at the ISOE in Frankfurt with the MPI and the GU as partnering institutions. The research group is part of the Social-Ecological Research Framework of FONA, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

General Requirements for all PhD Positions:
  • You have an excellent Master degree and preferably publication experience
  • You have a strong interest in social-ecological research (human-environment dynamics, sustainability)
  • You have the aspiration to see and work beyond your disciplinary boundaries (engage with natural and social aspects/methods)
  • Your are ambitious, self-motivated and have high team work capabilities
  • You have a high proficiency in German and English, verbal and written, other languages are a plus
  • You possess excellent writing skills
Experience in science communication is an advantage
PhD Position 1: Ecotoxicological Evaluation of Microplastics in Rivers
Disciplinary background: Ecotoxicology, Environmental Sciences, Freshwater Ecology, Biology
Your project will address the effects of microplastics in rivers and the development of an ecotoxicological evaluation procedure for microplastics. You will analyze biological effects of microplastics in selected aquatic invertebrates as well as the interaction with other freshwater contaminants in the laboratory. Furthermore, you will develop a concept for the evaluation of the environmental risk of microplastics.
Experience in one or more of the following methods is required: performing in vivo toxicity tests, analyzing molecular biomarkers, knowledge in ecotoxicological risk assessment, statistical knowledge (uni/multivariate)
You will be based at GU,

PhD Position 2: Sustainable Consumption and Food Packaging
Disciplinary background: Sociology, Human Geography, Cultural Studies, Economics
Your project will address the production and consumption patterns of plastic packaging and their implications for sustainability. Furthermore, in collaboration with PhD Position 3 you will propose measures to reduce plastic packaging in the food sector. Theoretical approaches derive from Social Ecology, Science-Technology-Studies, Lifestyle and Consumption Research.
Experience in one or more of the following methods is required: methods of empirical social research (qualitative and/or quantitative), lifestyle research, ethnography, experience in empirical research and analysis methods (e.g. SPSS, MAXQDA).
You will be based at ISOE,

PhD Position 3: Sustainable Alternatives to Conventional Food Packaging Materials
Disciplinary background: Chemistry, Material Sciences, Polymer Research, Packaging Research
Your project will address alternatives to conventional plastic packaging in the food sector (e.g. bioplastics) and their implications for sustainability. You will analyze polymers in terms of their packaging potentials as well as their degradability under environmental conditions. Furthermore, you will consider economic aspects regarding the large-scale production and application of the alternate materials. In collaboration with PhD Position 2 you will propose measures to replace conventional plastic packaging by more sustainable plastic alternatives.
Experience in one or more of the following methods is required: expertise in organic/polymer synthesis, plastics processing, plastics ageing, basic knowledge in mass spectrometry and/or NMR spectroscopy
You will be based at MPI,
For questions, please contact Dr. Carolin Völker,

We are looking forward to your informative application with the keyword “PlastX PhD position [number of respective position]” by e-mail to the Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE), Dr. Johanna Kramm and Dr. Carolin Völker,
To apply, please send a cover letter, a CV, a brief research proposal (max. 2 pages) and the names of at least two referees in one combined pdf. Applications are accepted until 6th of March 2016.

How to apply:
Please send a cover letter, a CV, a brief research proposal (max. 2 pages) and the names of at least two referees in one combined pdf per e-mail

Contact detail

How to apply:
Send application to
Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE), Dr. Johanna Kramm and Dr. Carolin Völker,


Job profile

Working hours
Contract duration
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Germany (Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz)
Working place
60486 Frankfurt
Area of expertise
Material Science & Engineering, Biology & Life Sciences, Chemical & Process Engineering, Chemistry

About ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

Das ISOE – Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung gehört zu den führenden außeruniversitären Instituten der Nachhaltigkeitsforschung mit Sitz in Frankfurt am Main. Seit über 25 Jahren entwickelt das Institut sozial-ökologische Konzepte und wissenschaftsbasierte Entscheidungsgrundlagen für Politik, Zivilgesellschaft und Wirtschaft. Das ISOE...

More about ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

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