Researcher in Soil Microbiology (M/F)

Reference : ERIN-2020-025

Type: Researcher
Contract type: Permanent contract
Place: Belvaux



Your work environment

The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) is a Research and Technology Organization (RTO) active in the fields of materials, environment and IT. By transforming scientific knowledge into technologies, smart data and tools, LIST empowers citizens in their choices, public authorities in their decisions and businesses in their strategies.

You will be part of the LIST Environmental Research and Innovation department

The Environmental Research and Innovation (ERIN) Department is focusing at some of the major environmental challenges our society is facing today, such as climate change, ecosystem resilience, sustainable energy systems, the efficient use of renewable resources, and environmental pollution prevention and control. ERIN’s 190+ researchers and technical staff carry out impact-driven scientific research and development, geared towards :

  • Analyzing, managing and exploiting sustainable environmental resources
  • Reducing the environmental impact of human consumption and production activities

Wired into the organisational thread of a Research and Technology Organization (RTO), ERIN is supporting companies in the implementation of new environmental regulations and advising governments on determining sustainable policies for the future.

Within the ERIN department, the ‘Environmental Sensing and Modelling’ (ENVISION) unit is an interdisciplinary team of 50+ scientists, engineers, post-docs and PhD candidates – structured in three complementary groups focusing on Critical Zone (CZ) research. The ‘Catchment and eco-hydrology’ (CAT), ‘Agro-environmental systems’ (AGRO) and ‘Remote sensing and natural resources modelling’ (REMOTE) groups rely on interdisciplinary approaches for tackling fundamental and applied questions related to :

  • Local accelerations and decelerations in the water cycle triggered by global change
  • Water and life
  • Clean water for people and agro-ecosystems

Embedded into the ENVISION unit, the ‘Agro-environmental Systems’ (AGRO) group has its focus set on the future of agriculture. Agronomists, climatologists and environmental chemists apply interdisciplinary approaches geared towards more efficient and sustainable crop production in the challenging context of global change. Major deliverables of the AGRO group consist in policy support and decision support tools for public services and farmers.

Human and ecological systems heavily rely on soils for the supply of water and nutrients to plant growth, the regulation of the water cycle, as well as carbon storage. Ecosystem resilience to global change will eventually depend on how soil microorganism diversity will respond to non-stationary boundary conditions. In order to fill pressing knowledge gaps on soil microorganisms, the ERIN department is opening a permanent position for a soil microbiologist within its AGRO group. Focusing on the diversity and role of soil microorganisms in ecosystem processes, the retained candidate will contribute to the ENVISION unit’s overarching ambition to deliver urgently needed solutions to challenges and threats inherent to global change.




You will assess the potential for soil processes driven by soil microorganisms to develop and maintain sustainable agro-ecosystems under current and future environmental conditions. You will integrate knowledge on soil biota across spatio-temporal scales, spanning from organism diversity and function at experimental plot scale to soil biota-climate connections at global scale, and apply the knowledge on applied agricultural research questions. The core themes to be addressed are:

  • Soil microorganisms and their role in nutrient cycling to enhance plant-soil interactions and associated ecosystem services. To this end the richness and community composition of soil microorganisms will be coupled with soil pedological characteristics and biogeochemical functions (nutrient provision, carbon management, pest and disease resilience and resistance, water regulation and purification) in (agro)ecosystems
  • Impact of increased soil cultivation as an alternative to herbicide use on soil biology, nutrient cycles and carbon stocks
  • Soil microorganisms performance under changing environmental conditions, especially related to soil moisture and droughts

  • Soil microorganisms and global change - with pressing research questions relating to :

    • - The role of soil microorganisms in greenhouse gas emissions
    • - The potential for soil and land use management to improve soil health and beneficial soil functions provided by microorganisms

You shall demonstrate a significant track record of publications in top scientific journals with relevant contributions in competitive funding projects acquisition. 

Your main tasks will be to:

  • Foster research, development and innovation in soil microbiology
  • Define, acquire and manage as principal investigator
  • RDI collaborative and/or competitive projects (both with private and public partners)
  • Work packages of more complex projects (e.g. work packages in H2020, etc.)
  • Technological projects (prototype development, assembly of technology components)
  • Develop and maintain technological and scientific excellence for RDI activities
  • Disseminate, valorise and transfer RDI results (patents, licences, prototypes, publications, technical reports, participation in conferences)
  • Promote the transfer of RDI results to public and private partners
  • Actively contribute to the development of scientific and technological cooperation networks at national and international levels




Educational background

  • The successful candidate must have a solid training in agronomy and a PhD in soil microbiology

Required seniority

  • At least 4 years of research experience upon PhD graduation
  • Experience in project acquisition and management as principal investigator and/or as workpackage leader in European projects is considered as a strong asset
  • Experience in supervising graduate students and/or post-doctoral researchers is considered also as a strong asset
  • The candidate should have a strong interest in applied agricultural research in collaboration with farmers and agricultural administrations

Technical skills

  • The candidate must have a good knowledge on soil microbial diversity and processes driven by soil microbiota
  • Basic knowledge in soil characterization and soil science is required
  • The candidate must have a documented track record in at least one of the core themes previously cited
  • The combined scientific and technical knowledge on the characterization of both microfauna and microflora organisms is considered as an asset

Furthermore, the selected candidate is expected to have :

  • Capacity to conduct experimental lab work and field studies under strenuous conditions
  • Experience in field study design and evaluation of the impact of different forms of field cultivation on nutrient and carbon cycles as well as biological activity of agricultural soils
  • Experience in the interpretation of molecular biology tools (including: DNA and RNA extraction, PCR, gene cloning, plasmid purification, library preparation, high-throughput sequencing, sequence analysis, metagenomics) for the structural and functional study of soil microbial communities
  • Experience in soil physical and biological characterisation methods and their interpretation
  • Knowledge of nutrient and carbon cycle modelling for soils
  • Proficiency in statistics and in handling data, for example using R, Matlab, or other software
  • Excellent writing and communication skills
  • Knowledge in finding creative solutions to logistical and experimental challenges

Language skills

  • Fluent in English (written and oral)
  • Knowledge in at least one of the official languages of Luxembourg (French, German or Luxembourgish) is an asset


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Prof. Dr Lucien HOFFMANN
Prof. Dr Lucien HOFFMANN

Director of Environmental Research and Innovation department