University assistant predoctoral: Microplastics as Anthropocene markers and proxies for sediment connectivity in fluvial systems

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Michael Wagreich, Prof. Dr. Daniel Le Heron (both Department of Geology) and Dr. Ronald Pöppl (Department of Geography and Regional Research), in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Andreas Stohl, Dr. Silvia Bucci (both Department of Meteorology and Geophysics) and Dr. Veronika Koukal (Department of Geology)

Funding type: fully-funded

Expected starting date: at the earliest possible date

Duration of employment: 3 years

Working hours: 30 hours/week


Project outline:

Plastic pollution is recognized as a major environmental threat and a new class of particle transported by by various geomorphic agents (water, wind). Microplastic has become a hot emerging topic, accumulating in sedimentary archives, thus providing a widespread marker for the Anthropocene. Detailed studies on microplastics in sediments from source to sinks in fluvial-atmospheric systems are largely missing. Objectives of the project are i) to investigate the amount, distribution and age of microplastics in selected fluvial systems, ii) to relate changes in sediment connectivity (e.g. by land use/management, dams, high-magnitude (hydro-)meteorological events) to changes in microplastics in the record (proxy approach), and iii) to investigate contemporary microplastic loadings in soils and rivers and relate them to key input sources and related process dynamics (i.e. via modelling atmospheric transport, water- and wind-mediated erosion, transport and deposition of sediment/microplastic). The study is based on two neighbouring medium-sized catchment systems in Lower Austria (Thayatal National Park). The upper and middle reaches of both systems are dominated by agricultural land use, soil erosion and related high rates of lateral sediment input, as well as widely engineered river channels, while the lower reaches exhibit near-natural forest cover and river conditions. Methods will include the use of a FT-IR-microscope for microplastics attribution (Bruker-LumosII) as well as of the FGGA-(IP-)funded water, sediment and climate monitoring station located in the Fugnitz River. Expected outcomes are detailed case studies on behavior of microplastic in catchment systems.


Your future tasks:

You actively participate in research, teaching & administration, which means:

  • You are involved in research projects and scientific studies in the field(s) of Sedimentology and Geomorphology.
  • We expect you to finalize your dissertation agreement within 12 months.
  • You work on your dissertation and its completion.
  • You hold courses and examinations according to the assignment and (co-)supervise students.
  • You take on administrative tasks in research and teaching.
  • You become an active team member of the Sedimentology Group at the Department of Geology.
  • You become an active PhD student member of the "Vienna International School of Earth and Space Sciences".


 This is part of your personality:

  • Completed Master's degree (or equivalent) in the field(s) of Earth Sciences, Geography or Environmental Sciences
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English
  • Basic knowledge of German language and/or willingness to learn German during the project time is beneficial
  • Basic experience in academic writing
  • Expertise in fluvial sedimentology and geomorphology
  • Knowledge in sediment transport modeling
  • IT user skills: GIS
  • Didactic competences / experience with e-learning are beneficial
  • You should be a team player with high social skills


What we offer:

  • Employment duration: The employment duration is 3 years. Initially limited to 1.5 years, the employment relationship is automatically extended to 3 years if the employer does not terminate it within the first 12 months by submitting a declaration of non-extension. In exceptional, well argumented cases and on the condition that budget is available, there is the possibility of extensions to a total maximum of 4 years.
  • Work-life balance: Our employees enjoy flexible, family-friendly working hours, remote/hybrid and/or part-time work (upon agreement).
  • Inspiring working atmosphere: You are a part of an international academic team with excellent research infrastructure in a supportive, inspiring and vibrant research environment with many opportunities to connect with peers from home and abroad on a personal and professional level.
  • Good public transport connections: Your workplace in the center of beautiful Vienna is easily accessible by public transport.
  • Internal further training & Coaching: VISESS and the University of Vienna offer many opportunities for your personal and professional development, including intra- and interdisciplinary seminars, transferable skills trainings and workshops, summer schools and more.
  • Fair salary: The basic salary of EUR 3277,30 (on a full-time basis) increases if we can credit professional experience.
  • Equal opportunities for everyone: We look forward to diverse personalities in the team!


It is that easy to apply: