PhD candidate in Sediment Tracing (M/F)

Reference : ERIN-2018-013

Type: PhD Student
Contract type: Fixed term contract
Duration: 12 months (+24 months + potentially 12 months extension)
Place: Belvaux



The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) is offering a fully paid PhD candidate position in the framework of a newly funded FNR CORE project PAINLESS: “Towards high temporal and in situ estimates of suspended sediment properties”. This position is envisaged to start between 1st June 2018 and September 1st 2018. The PhD candidate will be part of the Catchment and Eco-Hydrology (CAT) research group at the Department of Environmental Research and Innovation (ERIN) at LIST. The PhD will be awarded by Southampton University, UK.

The PAINLESS project is a collaboration with Prof. Adrian Collins (Rothamsted Research, University of Southampton, UK) and the Scan Messtechnik GmbH company (AT).




Sediment physical or geochemical properties can be used, together with statistical procedures, to apportion contributions from different sources to the sediment transported by a river. This approach is often known as ‘sediment fingerprinting’ and generally is very demanding in terms of labour time and cost. Moreover, sediment origin can exhibit significant variations both within and between storm events, and a robust method to estimate suspended sediment sources at high temporal resolution and over long time spans is still lacking. The PhD candidate will design and carry out laboratory and field experiments to investigate the use of spectrophotometric probes to trace suspended sediment sources. More specifically, the candidate will investigate the use of (a) the visible part of the absorbance spectra (i.e. colour), (b) the complete UV-VIS absorbance spectra and (c) suspended sediment properties estimated from UV-VIS absorbance spectra (e.g. total major and trace element concentrations, organic and mineral composition) to estimate sediment sources at high temporal resolution; hence, increasing the portfolio of current sediment source fingerprinting techniques. Furthermore, he/she will use in situ absorbance data to investigate, assess and improve the current underlying assumptions of the ‘sediment fingerprinting’ approach (i.e. particle selectivity, non-conservative tracer behaviour, uncertainty evaluation, etc.).

Rigorous processing and analyses of the data collected for publication in highly ranked international peer-reviewed journals are expected. The candidate will be encouraged to present his/her results at national/international conferences and to attend workshops, as well internal PhD student training programmes at both Rothamsted Research and Southampton University.

Ideally, the candidate will hold a Master Degree in Environmental Science or a similar discipline. He/she should have a good knowledge of fundamental concepts in catchment hydrology, geochemistry, suspended sediment transport and dynamics, environmental statistics and programming (preferably with R). Experience in water and suspended sediment sampling and analysis, as well as environmental monitoring will be an asset. He/she should be highly motivated to perform rigorous research and should be willing to join a very dynamic and leading international team.


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

Place of employment and main place of work

  • Primary supervisors at LIST: Dr. Núria Martínez-Carreras
  • Primary work location:  Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Belvaux, Luxembourg
  • Duration and location of secondment/s: Regular stays at Rothamsted Research (UK) and University of Southampton (UK) are foreseen

Important note

The amount for the inscription at the University of Southampton is £4,260/ year. The student will have to pay the fees by himself. Please also note that the amount of the proposed salary will be communicated to the PhD candidate during the interview.

Application procedure

The application can be submitted via LIST’s job portal: If there are any questions regarding the procedure please contact our HR office ( 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 his/her Master (or similar) degree that allows for the enrolment on a doctorate degree

Applications will be reviewed on an on-going basis 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 Degree in Environmental Science or a similar discipline


  • Strong background in environmental statistics
  • Experience with suspended sediment sampling, monitoring and analysis is an asset
  • Programming skills for data analysis (preferably with R.)


  • English skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing
  • Excellent skills in scientific writing and presenting


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Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER