14 PhD positions available in Macro and Microplastic in Agricultural Soil Systems

The Innovative Training Network “SOPLAS – Macro and Microplastic in Agricultural Soil Systems” is funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions) and offers 14 fully funded PhD positions (for early-stage researchers (ESR)) with attractive complementary training activities and generous travel, laboratory and research budgets. The successful candidates will be hosted by a member of a European Consortium of universities, research institutions and companies in Germany, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Spain, Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Portugal. Successful candidates will have a research interest in natural, environmental, technical, social or economic sciences and will participate in a multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral research and training network aimed at accelerating the applicants’ scientific careers.

For the first time, SOPLAS will bring together scientist from various research fields to deliver critically important advances in understanding the specific fate and effects of plastic within soils and its sustainable use in agriculture.

SOPLAS will:

  • Train a new generation of scientists (ESRs) able to tackle the critical knowledge gaps related to the fate and impacts of plastics in agroecosystems. You will be part of a multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral training network delivering significant advances in understanding the specific fate and effects of plastic within soils and the sustainable use of plastics in agriculture.
  • Develop operational techniques to detect especially microplastic in soils
  • Provide a first comprehensive assessment of the ecotoxicological effects of microplastic in soils systems
  • Analyse different technical and socio-economic options to reduce plastic accumulation in soils systems and the organisms living in it.
  • Analyse and model microplastic fluxes from arable land into freshwater systems
  • Provide the scientific evidence to support the development of new environmental policies, agricultural practices and industrial opportunities related to plastics in agriculture in different regions of Europe.

Applications for the individual positions need to be send to the specific institutions (see below). Please be aware there are general application and eligibility rules of Innovative Training Networks and rules of the individual institutions. 

1. Economic Incentives to Control microplastic Pollution: An analysis of farm and household decision making using discrete choice experiments.

2. Assessing plastic inputs from mulching using remote sensing techniques.

3. Method development for isolation, enumeration, quantification and characterization of micro and macroplastic in soil and soil amendments and support optimization of plastic removal from compost.

4. Elucidating the role of compost application, plastic mulching and irrigation for plastic pollution of soil.

5. Development and application of fluorescence-based techniques to quantify microplastic pollution in soils.

6. Degradation from macro to microplastic resulting from plastic mulching in different agricultural environments.

7. Elucidating biodegradation of polymeric films in agricultural soils.

8. Remediation of soils polluted with microplastics - microbial degradation of plastic debris.

9. Impacts of microplastics on plant-associated microbiome.

10. Impacts of microplastics on soil meso- and macro-fauna.

11. Redistribution of plastic within the soil column affecting soil hydraulic properties and leaching.

12. Transport of microplastics in the vadose zone and leaching of microplastic to groundwater.

13. Transport of microplastics in overland flow.

14. Monitoring and modelling the microplastics connectivity within a small catchment.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants can be of any nationality and must, at the time of recruitment:

  • Have a MSc or equivalent relevant for the chosen ESR-project (you might also apply if you will finish your masters before starting your employment)
  • Be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers
  • Have not been awarded a doctoral degree
  • Have not resided in the country of the host institution for more than 12 months in the last 3 years (except refugees)

General evaluation criteria

  • Educational background relevant for the chosen position (individual research project)
  • High proficiency in spoken and written English
  • Networking and communication skills (to be evaluated in the interview)
  • Previous research experience, relevant to the chosen position is desirable