PhD Position (f_m_x) in Mineral Crystallization

   Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ)

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  Prof Liane Benning  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national centre for geosphere research. As a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres we are part of the largest scientific organization in Germany. With approximately 1,500 employees our key mission is to secure a profound understanding of the systems and processes of solid Earth, to develop strategies and options for action in addressing global change and its impacts on a regional level, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, to ensure the sustainable provision of energy and raw materials for a high-tech society and to evaluate the influence of human activity on system Earth.

To complement the Interface Geochemistry team, we are looking for a PhD student (f_m_x) to carry out research with a focus on crystallization processes.

PhD Position (f_m_x) in Mineral Crystallization

Reference Number 7662

The aim of the PhD project is to improve our understanding on how various additives used in gypsum board formulations impact the kinetics and mechanisms of gypsum crystallization and the microstructure of the resulting gypsum matrix. The ultimate goal is to identify the reactions leading to a reduction in the gypsum quantity used in gypsum boards, while keeping the sustainable performance requirements.

The experimental PhD project will be carried out in our GFZ Mineral Synthesis Laboratories and this work will be complemented with training and experiments related to mechanical testing and scaling up of the experimental results to ‘real’ factory conditions. This latter part will be done in close collaboration with ETEX staff and in dedicated ETEX laboratory facilities.

The successful candidate will become an integral part of the Interface Geochemistry section, work closely with other students and postdocs in the group and be registered in the PhD programme of the Freie Universität Berlin.

Your responsibilities

  • Perform lab synthesis experiments to investigate the formation of calcium sulfate dehydrate CaSO4.2H2O (gypsum) under different industry relevant conditions for plasterboard production
  • Determine the changes in structure, composition, size, orientation and 3 D distribution of gypsum in the produced materials
  • Publish in international peer-reviewed journals and present research results at scientific meetings

Your qualifications:

  • MSc degree (or equivalent) in material sciences, chemical enginering, or (geo)chemistry
  • Documented hands on experience in laboratory experimental procedures
  • Strong knowledge and experience in reaction kinetics ideally with mineralogical or environmental applications
  • Hands on experience in a range of solid characterization techniques (e.g., diffraction, imaging or spectroscopy) is an advantage
  • Experience in inorganic chemical/mineral synthesis is an asset
  • Capacity for interdisciplinary and international teamwork and excellent communication skills
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English

What we offer:

  • Ambitious and varied tasks in a dynamic and international research environment
  • State-of-the-art equipment
  • Public service benefits
  • Extensive training opportunities
  • Professional career advice offered by our in-house Career-Centre
  • Flexible working hours and conditions
  • Support with finding a good work-life balance offered by benefit@work
  • Institute day-care centre on site
  • Working at the Albert Einstein science park on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam
  • Work place within walking distance of Potsdam main train station, or just a short ride on the shuttle bus

Start date: 1st October 2023

Fixed term: 36 months

Salary: The position is classed as salary group 13 (75%) according to “TVöD Bund (Tarifgebiet Ost)”. The salary group is determined on the basis of the Collective Wage Agreement and the respective personal qualifications.

Working hours: Full-time (currently 39 h/week); The position is generally suitable for part‑time work.

Place of work: Potsdam


Have we piqued your interest?

If so, we look forward to receiving your application by 18th June 2023. Please use our online application form only.

1. Cover letter stating how you fit the required qualifications outlined above.

2. Detailed CV including presentations/​publications and names and emails of 2 potential referees.

Diversity and equal opportunities are integral components of our human resources policy. The GFZ actively promotes diversity and explicitly welcomes applications from all qualified individuals, regardless of ethnic and social origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion/belief, age and physical characteristics. Anyone who has been recognized as severely disabled, will be given preferential consideration in the event of equal suitability and qualification in accordance with the provisions of the German Social Code IX. If you have any questions, please contact our representative for the severely disabled at sbv[at], who will be happy to assist you in the further application process. In case of further queries regarding gender equality, please do not hesitate to contact our Equal Opportunities Officer at gba[at]

Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of conducting the selection procedure on the basis of Art. 6 para. 1 b, Art. 88 GDPR in conjunction with Art. 26 of the Data Protection Act for the State of Brandenburg. After completion of the procedure, application documents will be deleted in compliance with data protection regulations.

In case of any further queries relating to the field of activity, please contact Liane G. Benning via email at [Email Address Removed]. If you have any general questions about the application process, please contact Ms Buge under +49 331 288-28787.

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