Quantitative mapping of toxic metals on the submicron-scale in cell-mineral aggregates formed by iron mineral precipitating and dissolving bacteria

PhD Thesis in Biogeosciences / Environmental Sciences

The research group for analytical microscopy in Environmental- and
Biogeoscience at the Institute for Geosciences at the University of
Tuebingen is currently looking for a motivated PhD student working on

“Quantitative mapping of toxic metals on the submicron-scale in
cell-mineral aggregates formed by iron mineral precipitating and
dissolving bacteria”.

Project:
In the environment, toxic heavy metals are often bound to iron-minerals
and to organic matter produced by microorganisms. Understanding of the
bonding mechanisms is crucial for assessing potential remobilization of
toxic heavy metals. This will be tackled at the submicron scale by
advanced analytical microscopy approaches.

The proposed interdisciplinary research project aims at identifying
mechanisms and quantifying amounts of toxic trace metal bonding to cell
Fe-mineral aggregates on the submicron and micron scale. Therefore,
synchrotron-based techniques such as chemically sensitive tomography
with 100 nm resolution based on scanning transmission X-ray microscopy
(STXM) shall be developed and optimized further. Additionally, in a
novel approach confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) will be applied
and optimized for up-scaling the high-resolution STXM data to
environmentally relevant spatial scales such as biofilms in the
mm-range.

We offer a PhD position in a young and interdisciplinary, international
team of geomicrobiologists and (bio-)geochemists working with state of
the art synchrotron techniques, electron microscopy and other analytical
microscopies. The position provides an opportunity to establish own
ideas, creativity and self-responsibility. The candidate will have the
opportunity to learn, use and to further develop cutting-edge analytical
microscopy techniques such as synchrotron-based STXM, electron
microscopy, and CLSM. Candidates will also have the possibility to
practice and improve their skills to plan/perform laboratory
experiments, to analyze the data, to discuss and to present the results
in a friendly atmosphere.

Candidates should have a background in environmental sciences,
geo-ecology, bio-geosciences, chemistry or physics and like to work as
team players in a highly interdisciplinary field. Technical skills, a
weakness for applied physics and some programming experience (e.g.
LabView, Matlab, IDL) would be quite beneficial. Applicants should have
good communication skills and be highly motivated and committed to
pursuing interdisciplinary research particularly focusing on
environmental issues. Good computer- and language skills (English) are
required.
The studentship will be funded by the DFG. The candidate will be
employed by the University of Tuebingen at TVL E13 (50%). The start date
of the 3-year contract is December 2010 or as soon as possible
thereafter. We particularly encourage female applicants to apply for
this position. Disabled persons will be preferred in case of equal
qualification.

Applications should be sent by email before 31-Oct-2010 to:
martin.obst(a)uni-tuebingen.de

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