PhD position “Effects of agricultural trade on global and local biodiversity”

Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung

Frankfurt a.M.

The Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN) is a member of the Leibniz Association and is based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. SGN conducts natural history research with more than 800 employees and research institutions in six federal states. Within SGN, the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F) explores the interactions between biodiversity, climate, and society.

Senckenberg BiK-F invites applications for a PhD position “Effects of agricultural trade on global and local biodiversity” (part-time, 65 %) in the context of the project “Global impacts of agricultural trade and consumption on ecosystems and biodiversity: exploring Germany’s and China’s roles as importing and consuming countries” funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (pending final approval).

The protection of ecosystems and their biodiversity is a major challenge for human societies in the next decades. The Sustainable Development Goal 15 of the UN aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”. During the last decade, however, about 53 Mha of tropical forests, rich in biodiversity, were lost, mainly due to the expansion of areas under agricultural production.

The PhD position will contribute to a project that investigates how global trade of agricultural products and the associated expansion of agricultural land is contributing to the loss of natural habitats and resulting biodiversity loss. Throughout the project, we will advance existing approaches to linking agricultural expansion to commodity production, trade and consumption, which are currently used in our group’s research and/or by our collaborators. These approaches will be applied to quantify Germany’s and China’s global biodiversity and deforestation footprints.

Based on an overview of current biodiversity-footprint accounting methods and input from international partners and experts, the PhD candidate will design and implement an approach to quantify biodiversity loss induced by agricultural production. The results will be coupled with trade models to get a better understanding of the consequences of Germany’s and China’s consumption for global biodiversity. Outreach is central to the project, as results and key insights will be communicated beyond academic audiences.

Your tasks:

  • Compare and advance existing approaches for biodiversity footprint accounting
  • Work with global geospatial data
  • Interact closely with project partner groups: Martin Persson (Chalmers University of Technology) and Chris West (Stockholm Environment Institute), who will contribute to PhD supervision
  • Participate in project meetings and contribute to project reporting
  • Publish results in international journals in cooperation with the project team

Your profile:

  • MSc degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field, e.g. ecology, physical geography or another relevant field and interest in global sustainability issues
  • Programming skills (R, Python or similar), familiarity in working with large datasets and their statistical analysis, or experience in working with geospatial data
  • Excellent English language skills
  • Interest in working in an interdisciplinary environment
  • Willingness to travel (incl. research stays)
  • Interest in applied science at the science-policy interface

What is awaiting you?

  • An interesting task in a dynamic and interdisciplinary team of researchers in an international research project with an applied focus
  • Affiliation with Goethe University Frankfurt and membership in its graduate academy GRADE
  • The possibility to build and extend your professional network with scientists at an international level and to attend national and international conferences
  • Flexible working hours, annual special payment, company pension scheme, Senckenberg badge for free entry to the Senckenberg museums and several museums in Frankfurt
  • Salary and benefits are according to a public service position in Germany (TV-H E13, 65 %, 26 weekly working hours).

Employment shall start in January 2022 and will be limited until the end of 2024.

SGN supports equal opportunity of men and women and therefore strongly invites women to apply. Equally qualified handicapped applicants will be given preference. The place of employment is in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The employer is the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung.

Please e-mail your application (ref. #11-21022) to recruiting@senckenberg.de (attachment in a single pdf document), including

  • a cover letter describing your motivation to apply,
  • a detailed CV,
  • all academic credentials and certificates,
  • and contact details of two potential references

Review of applications will continue until the position is filled.

For scientific inquiries, please contact: Dr. Thomas Kastner, thomas.kastner@senckenberg.de

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Bewerbungsende: 31.12.2021