PhD student, Baltic Sea hypoxia - Mainz, Germany

The Institute of Geosciences (Paleontology group) at the University of Mainz, Germany, invites applications for a PhD student position (temporary appointment) to reconstruct the history of hypoxia in the Baltic Sea with shells of bivalve mollusks.


Bottom hypoxia (less than 2 mg/L dissolved oxygen) is a growing environmental problem in coastal and offshore waters. Severe and prolonged low-oxygen conditions can be lethal for bottom dwellers, destroy benthic communities, cause ecosystem disturbances and eventually form dead zones.

The spatial distribution, intensity and duration of hypoxia in the Baltic Sea, home of the largest oxygen-deficient zone, has increased strikingly during the last century, both in shallow nearshore and deeper offshore settings. Due to lacking data, the occurrence of coastal hypoxia in time and space is much less well characterized than in deeper waters. Yet, the main unresolved question concerns the causes for the drastic expansion of hypoxia in the Baltic Sea: How important are physical forcings (stratification) and nutrient-driven eutrophication?

The main objective of the study is to establish a virtually untapped archive for hypoxia and eutrophic state, namely shells of long-lived bivalves. The successful candidate will develop a multiproxy approach for the reconstruction of dissolved oxygen and apply this technique to infer the Late Holocene history of hypoxia in selected regions of the Baltic Sea with unprecedented temporal resolution.


Applicants must hold a master degree (above average grade) in geosciences, biology or marine sciences. Preferred key qualifications include (1) basic knowledge of marine ecology, (2) basic analytical skills (isotope and/or element chemistry), (3) experience with data analysis and statistical methods, and (4) computer literacy (in particular, skillful use of MS office package etc.). Previous experience with the analysis of growth patterns in hard tissues of invertebrates can be advantageous.

In addition to scientific independence and expertise in topics outlined above, the ability to organize and prioritize own work and organize research within the project schedule, as well as a positive attitude toward and experience with field and laboratory work are required. The ideal candidate demonstrates originality within the overall research focus and has excellent communication skills. Proficiency in written and spoken English is essential. Besides team working capabilities, previous international experience is desirable.


Project start: as soon as possible.

The appointment will be for a maximum of three years. Salary according to E13 TV-L (50-75% position) includes fringe benefits (health insurance etc.). The University of Mainz is an equal opportunity employer. Disabled persons with comparable qualification receive preferential status.


Interested individuals are invited to submit an application package including a motivation letter, CV, copies of certificates (high school, BSc and MSc [or equivalent]), degree transcripts (plus English or German translation) and addresses of at least two referees as a single pdf to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to Prof. Dr. Bernd R. Schöne, Institute for Geosciences, University of Mainz, Joh.-J.-Becher-Weg 21, 55128 Mainz, Germany.

Application deadline: 1 March 2019.

Note, application review will begin immediately. The position will remain open and applications will be reviewed until the position is filled. Further information about the research focus of the Applied and Analytical Paleontology research team can be obtained at