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Leib­niz-Zen­trum für Agrar­land­schafts­for­schung e.V. - HR

The mission of the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) as a nationally and internationally active research institute is to deliver solutions for an ecologically, economically and socially sustainable agriculture – together with society. ZALF is a member of the Leibniz Association and is located in Müncheberg (approx. 35 minutes by regional train from Berlin-Lichtenberg). The institute also maintains locations in Dedelow and Paulinenaue.

PHD researcher (f/m/d)

The project AquaTrans (“Promoting better water use through integrative assessment of the transition to agroecology in northern Ghana”) is an Integrated Priority Project funded by ZALF. It aims at providing new knowledge on the factors and enabling conditions for agroecological transitions in a case study area in Northern Ghana using an interdisciplinary research approach, combining socio-economics, natural sciences and modelling. West African farms are limited e.g., in terms of land, water, cash and labour. Understanding the complex interactions among these factors is crucial for promoting any agroecological transition and requires a consistent knowledge base considering the benefits and costs of a change in the farming systems. The projects Working Package two (natural sciences) will thereby deal with achieving a process-based understanding of the feedbacks between different crop rotations, land use management and water cycle parameters by assessing water cycle components from the leaf to the ecosystem scale through measuring fluxes of evapotranspiration (ET), transpiration (T) and evaporation (E) as well as soil available water (and groundwater table depth). This will be linked to assessments of carbon cycle components as well as plant development to optimize crop productivity while guaranteeing sustainable water use.

We are offering a part-time position (65%) temporarily limited until December 2026 at our location in Müncheberg as PHD researcher (f/m/d).

Working field:

  • implementing and organizing (e.g., IoT sensor network) the monitoring of gaseous water and carbon fluxes at the case study area
  • independent planning and overseeing of necessary field work
  • ese and further development of low-cost DIY (Arduino/raspberry pi based) gaseous water and carbon-emission measurement devices (developed by ZALF IBG and e.g. used in Ghana, Benin and the Philippines)
  • on-time data analyses using pre-developed calculation and evaluation scripts in R (a further development of those in R, Julia and/or Python is encouraged)
  • close cooperation and exchange with project partners and local partners as well as preparation of results for communication to stakeholders (e.g. project workshops) and the scientific community (e.g. presentations at national and international conferences, journal publications)


  • excellent completion of a Master (or equivalent) in the field of electronics, agriculture, horticulture, biology, geo-ecology or related subjects
  • extensive knowledge of biogeochemical cycles and especially water and carbon-dynamics
  • basic knowledge of at least data processing or programming language (e.g., R) as well as cropping systems in a West African context are an advantage
  • organizational skills, the ability to work independently and willingness for longer field trips to the case study area
  • as an internationally research institution, located in Germany we require good to very good written and spoken English skills and the willingness to take part in further training as part of the language courses in German offered internally
  • scientific curiosity and high interest in writing a doctoral thesis

What we offer:

  • an inter-disciplinary and multinational team that encourages independence and self-reliance and open-minded working atmosphere in a young and dynamic working group
  • excellent state-of-science technical facilities and equipment
  • national and international research networks
  • access to training courses for PhD students (e.g. in-house training, Doctoral Certificate Program in Agricultural Economics, budget for additional training)
  • classification according to the collective agreement of the federal states (TV-L) up to EG13 (including special annual payment)
  • support in reconciling work and family life
  • company ticket
  • in-house language courses in German and English

How to apply:

Women are particularly encouraged to apply. Applications from severely disabled persons with equal qualifications are favored. Please send your application preferably online (see button online application below). For e-mail applications, create a PDF document (one PDF file, max. 5 MB; packed PDF documents, archive files like zip, rar etc. Word documents cannot be processed and therefore cannot be considered!) with the usual documents, in particular CV, proof of qualification and certificates, stating the reference number 08-2024 until 25 February 2024 to (see button e-mail application below).

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us: Dr. Mathias Hoffmann, Tel. +49 (0) 33432/82-473, and Dr. Maren Dubbert, Tel. +49 (0) 33432/82-475,

For cost reasons, application documents or extensive publications can only be returned if an adequately stamped envelope is attached. If you apply, we collect and process your personal data in accordance with Articles 5 and 6 of the EU GDPR only for the processing of your application and for purposes that result from possible future employment with the ZALF. Your data will be deleted after six months.