Academic Positions Nederland

University of Neuchâtel, Zwitserland

PhD Position: Closing blind spots for surface water groundwater exchanges

Despite the critical importance for stream ecology, biogeochemistry and water quality, the interactions and feedback mechanisms between the hyporheic zone and the river corridor remain poorly understood. The PhD project aims to provide and integrate field and modelling approaches to overcome the conceptual and observational gaps between the hyporheic and meander scale. We take advantage of very recent technological developments in drone (UAV) and sensor technology and tracer methods. While current tracer methods provide information on short time scales (1-10 days, Radon) or large time scales (>100 days tritium/helium) observational gaps for the feedback mechanisms between hyporheic and meander processes exist. The natural tracer Argon37 closes this gap but has so far not been employed in this context.  Numerical models simulating both the hyporheic and meander scale will allow quantifying exchange fluxes and processes across the different spatial and temporal scales. The models will be based on a high-resolution characterization of the streambed acquired with a state of the art LIDAR-UAV and calibrated with tracer- and UAV- based data.

The project is part of a large Innovative Training Network (ENIGMA-ITN) funded by the European Commission. The PhD candidate will be supervised by Prof. P. Brunner (UNINE) and co-supervised by Prof. D. Hunkeler (UNINE) and Prof. Fleckenstein (UFZ, Germany).

The PhD position is based at the Centre for Hydrogeology and Geothermics of the University of Neuchâtel (CHYN).The CHYN provides a stimulating research environment with about 50 collaborators working on a wide range of topics in hydrogeology and geothermics. The candidate will benefit from a comprehensive pool of field and laboratory equipment and technical support staff.

Required qualifications

The project is ideally suited for a candidate that has a keen interest in integrating methods and data of different disciplines (Mathematics, Geology, Remote Sensing) in state of the art numerical models simulating the interactions and feedback mechanisms between surface water and groundwater. The candidate must have a strong quantitative background and preferably knowledge in physically based numerical modelling, inverse approaches, or tracer hydrology. He/she has a talent and passion to develop experimental setups for the field and is looking forward to use a state of the art UAV.  The successful candidate is expected to have an MSc in physics, mathematics, computer sciences, earth system sciences or related disciplines. Fluency in English is required.  


Beginning: We are recruiting now (DEADLINE: 25 March 2017 this round, June next round). The position is financed for 3 years

Additional information

Additional information can be obtained from Prof. P. Brunner (


Applications have to be submitted via the ITN- Enigma website : Indicate your priority for ESR project 3.

Please pay careful attention to the eligibility criteria stated on the website

University of Neuchâtel

The University of Neuchâtel (UniNE) is located in the French speaking part of Switzerland, in a city that enjoys a central location.

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