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Publié le
vendredi 27 avril 2018 à 18:17


PhD candidate in environmental virology (m/f)

Type : PhD Student
Contract type : Fixed term contract
Duration : 3 years (12+24 months) + 12 extra months if needed
Place : Belvaux


The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology offers an outstanding opportunity for joining its newly created doctoral training unit (DTU) in hydrological sciences : ”HYDRO-CSI : Towards a holistic understanding of river systems : Innovative methodologies for unraveling hydrological, chemical and biological interactions across multiple scales”. The total number of positions in this DTU is 14 – embracing four complementary thematic clusters on (1) high frequency monitoring of hydrological processes, (2) new hydrological tracers, (3) remote sensing applied to hydrology, and (4) hydrological forecasts and predictions under change. Academic partners are the TU Vienna (Austria), University of Luxembourg, Wageningen University (The Netherlands) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany). The DTU HYDRO-CSI is funded in the framework of the PRIDE scheme of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), and coordinated by Dr. Laurent Pfister.

The main objective of the DTU HYDRO-CSI is to train a new generation of highly skilled experts with a view to contribute to solving some of the most pressing challenges related to water resources research and management : hydrological system complexity, non-stationarity of boundary conditions, high-frequency monitoring of environmental processes, global change impact assessment.

The offered fully paid PhD position is embedded in cluster (2) of the DTU and focuses on viral particles as surface water tracers and source identification. The position is envisaged to start between June 1st 2018 and December 1st 2018 and will extend over a maximum duration of 4 years. The PhD candidate will be part of the ‘Bioindicators and microbial biosensors’ research group of the Department of Environmental Research and Innovation (ERIN) at LIST. Furthermore, the PhD candidate will be affiliated with the University of Luxembourg.


Albeit recent technological developments (e.g. field deployable instruments operating at high temporal frequencies), experimental hydrology is a discipline that remains measurement limited. From this perspective, trans-disciplinary approaches may create valuable opportunities to enlarge the amount of tools available for investigating hydrological processes.

The ubiquitous character of bacteriophages in water has triggered countless applications as environmental tracers for studies in water quality, source tracing or prediction of waterborne pathogen occurrence. They have been also widely used as biological tracer for investigating colloid transport and contamination of ground water systems. However, there are only a few studies focusing on the employability of bacteriophages as surface water tracers (i.e. phage transport, system functioning) at the catchment scale. We hypothesize that such viral particles can be a promising tool in catchment hydrology for tracing runoff sources and pathways across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. More specifically, we intend to focus on the rainfall-runoff events to detect hydrological connectivity between the riparian zone/river bank and the stream. For this purpose, we propose to work with the F-specific RNA phages as virus models. These viruses from fecal origin are widely spread in aquatic environments and offer the potential to distinguish animal from anthropogenic fecal sources. Experimental work will be conducted at different scales, from lab to field experiences. Thus, one of the main pillars of this PhD project consists in the combination of hydrological and microbial approaches to estimate the virus transport and water system functioning.

As the successful appointee, you will :

  • make a state-of-the-art analysis relative to the general objectives of the project and the elaboration of the working hypotheses
  • design and implement short- to long-term laboratory and field experiments in line with the formulated hypotheses
  • prepare and maintain of viral stocks in lab for conducting experiments
  • collect water samples in different environmental media (water, soils) at various time scales, including high-frequency resolution
  • prepare and analyze water (and solid) samples for complete virus detection and quantification (concentration and extraction procedures, detection assays)
  • propose relevant statistical approaches using multi-tracer datasets for improving the existing microbial / hydrological concepts of water and microbial transport
  • rigorously process and analyze collected data for publication in highly ranked international peer-reviewed journals

You will also take part in the PhD training offered at LIST and at the University of Luxembourg.


  • No restrictions apply as to the nationality of the candidates
  • Candidates shall be available for starting their position between June 1st 2018 and December 1st 2018
  • Driving licence class B

Place of employment and main place of work

  • Primary supervisors at LIST : Dr. Leslie Ogorzaly and Dr. Henry-Michel Cauchie
  • Primary work location : Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Belvaux, Luxembourg
  • Duration and location of secondment/s : not applicable

Application procedure

The application can be submitted via LIST’s job portal : www.list.lu/en/jobs/. If there are any questions regarding the procedure please contact our HR office (jobs@list.lu). The application must include :

  • A motivation letter oriented towards the position and research field and experience
  • A current scientific CV, which includes full contact details
  • Two reference letters or full contact details of two referees
  • A copy of master (or similar) degree that allows for the enrolment on a doctorate degree

Applications will be reviewed on-going until the position is filled. An assessment committee will be appointed to review the applications and candidates selected based on Network-wide guidelines, which aim to ensure equal opportunities. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview either in person or by Skype.

The main criterion for selection will be the existing skills, knowledge, and research career potential of the applicant, match with the project, and fulfilment of the above mentioned qualifications. Candidates from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

The LIST is committed with equality of opportunities and gender balance.



  • Master (or similar) degree in Environmental sciences with a focus on Environmental Microbiology


  • High motivation to be part of an international DTU and to perform high quality research
  • Cultivation of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, phages)
  • Molecular biology techniques (RT-PCR, qPCR, sequencing and next-generation sequencing
  • Field experiment (water and soil sampling and analysis)
  • Knowledge in hydrological processes


  • Fluent in English (spoken and written) is mandatory
  • French is an asset

Publié le
vendredi 27 avril 2018

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