Post-Doc Award

The Post-Doc Award of the Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy aims at supporting the career development and at increasing the visibility of excellent and promising young members of the Faculty (post docs). The award amounts to 5,000 EUR per year for up to three years. Further details can be obtained from the next call for submissions (probably in spring 2018). The award’s announcement will be published on this website.

Award winners


Reconstructing the history of alien species invasions in the Mediterranean Sea and informing the public

The Suez Canal has removed a long-standing biogeographical barrier between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Hundreds of tropical species have invaded the Mediterranean Sea via the Canal, especially in its Eastern part, triggering a major change to its biodiversity. The project aims at reconstructing what the pristine Mediterranean Sea looked like and which the dynamics of change has been. The Post-Doc Award will be used to strengthen the sampling design with additional stations and laboratory analysis, and to support outreach activities to better inform the public about the relevance of the problem and the project results.

Stable isotope labelling and tracing of engineered nanomaterials

Engineered nanomaterials (ENM) are increasingly produced, used and disposed leading to their release into the environment. This work aims at improving our understanding of the behaviour, fate and transport of ENM in natural environments. The funds shall be used to develop the technique of stable isotope labelling and tracing of ENM. Isotopically enriched material shall be used as a precursor to synthesise ENM, hence the resulting material is labelled and carries a strong, non-natural isotope signature. The isotopically labelled nanomaterial will be applied in experiments with complex natural matrices (e.g. soils, waters, organisms) at low and environmentally relevant levels.


Systematic characterization of sorption behavior of microplastics

The presence of plastic debris has become an issue of concern among scientist and regulators. Recently there have been a growing number of reports on the occurrence of plastic debris in non‐marine terrestrial waters, which indicated a quantitatively similar contamination of both systems. Sorption of organic compounds by microplastics is one of major processes as it may affect the compound distribution in sediments and aqueous phases. A detailed knowledge of sorption properties of microplastics is of crucial importance for the discussion on the potential relevance of the presence of microplastics in the environment. This project aims at a systematic characterization of sorption behavior of microplastics.


Detecting depth of anisotropy in the Eastern Alpine area and developing an integrated model of the subsurface structures

Anisotropy analysis is a central means to explore the geophysical properties of Earth. The Eastern Alps are known to have a highly complex and heterogeneous structure for both the crust and the upper mantle. This project aims to further explore the receiver function technique in its capability to determine the presence of anisotropy at depth and to determine its strength and orientation. It involves work on the calibration of the receiver function technique on anisotropic media, on applying the technique to describe anisotropy in the Eastern Alpine area along the boundary of the Adria and Europe plates (EASI transect) as well as on increasing data analysis for a 3D image of the Lithosphere-Asthenosphere boundary below the Eastern Alps.


Environmental fate of nanopesticides - development of suitable methodology

The use of nanopesticides inevitably results in both new benefits and new risks to human and environmental health. Studies on the environmental fate of nanopesticides are however scarce and the current level of knowledge does not allow a fair assessment of their potential impact. This project has aimed to combine organic and colloidal chemistry methodologies and to develop new approaches to assess the environmental exposure of nanopesticides. The results of this project have served as a solid base for the successful application of Melanie Kah to the Elise Richter programme awarded by the FWF Austrian Science Fund.

Bridging the gap between galactic and extragalactic star formation

Knowledge of the physical factors that control the conversion of interstellar gas into stars is essential for both developing a predictive physical theory of star formation and understanding the evolution of galaxies. A first step to obtaining such knowledge is to establish empirically the underlying relation or relationships that most directly connect the star formation rate (SFR) in a galaxy to a general physical property of the gaseous interstellar medium from which stars form. The Kennicutt-Schmidt Law is a prominent formulation of this relation, but it has been challenged by the discovery of a second empirical scaling law relating the SFR with interstellar gas. The project aims to improve the understanding of the relation between the standard extragalactic Kennicutt-Schmidt scaling law and the linear star formation scaling law derived from dense gas observations, based on a multi-wavelength survey of star formations on the nearby galaxy NGC 300 among others.