View job here

For IGB’s Department of Plankton and Microbial Ecology, located in the wonderful forest and lake area of Stechlin 85 km north of Berlin, we invite candidates to apply for a “Postdoctoral position in experimental plankton studies testing environmental effects of olive oil production in the Mediterranean region” starting 01.09.2024.

The PostDoc position will focus on biological aspects of experimental aquatic studies as part of the EU project “CYCLOLIVE - From waste to resource: ReCYCLing OLIVE oil extraction by-products for sustainable agricultural practices in the Mediterranean region”.  

The aim of the CYCLOIVE project is to provide a series of immediate improvements to water usage, sustainable agriculture and olive oil production with potentially far-reaching socioeconomical ramifications, especially in the Mediterranean area presently under strong pressure from water shortage, salinisation and other anthropogenic environmental stressors. The overall objectives of this project are to (i) Improve the use of water, fertilisers, and nutrients; (ii) Reduce food production costs; (iii) Raise awareness about the importance of a balanced use of environmental resources; (iv) Influence the local, regional and national policies regarding the management of energy and environmental resources; (v) Generate new job opportunities and new green initiatives and enterprises in the Mediterranean area where waste water treatment processes and solid waste product conversion into agricultural soil improvement products can be implemented.

The specific task of the PostDoc is to study freshwater plankton ecosystems (biodiversity, traits and community development) affected by various degrees of exposure to olive mill wastewater (OMWW) before and after novel oil production and wastewater treatment approaches have been applied. IGB as project partner is responsible to perform a combination of field measurements and mesocosm experiments near sites of olive oil mill productions in Morocco, Tunisia and Italy, while preparations, sample analysis and office work will be carried out at IGB in Stechlin, Germany. The PostDoc will be responsible for collecting comprehensive environmental data on (i) the natural plankton ecosystems under investigation and (ii) mesocosms (ecosystems reconstructed at pilot scale) in order to simulate the environmental conditions of the real ecosystems investigated. These activities will be planed and conducted in close collaboration with the IGB team. The IGB-team has a broad expertise in plankton ecology, automatic imaging systems, international mesocosm experimentation as well as in artificial wetland water treatment and irrigation systems. As the overall project spans over a wide field from biology and chemistry to engineering and socio-economy, the IGB-PostDoc will be integrated into an existing large international team with partners in Morocco, Italy, Germany, Spain, Jordan, Turkey, Tunisia and France. The PostDoc will benefit from an opportunity to co-design the first African-European mesocosm facilities in the framework of the CYCLOLIVE project, and is expected to use already available data and tools, as well as contribute to the scientific design of experiments within the CYCLOLIVE consortium.

We search a motivated person with experience (or at least a strong interest) in working with aquatic ecosystems, including analysis of results from such experiments. Experience in working with mesocosms, industrial wastewater treatment and/or ecotoxicology are considered a strong advantage(s). The person will travel to various experimental sites to conduct sampling and perform detailed analyses. This role requires a significant amount of self-organisation and on-site work to ensure accurate data collection and timely assessments, which are critical to the success of our research projects. Due to the diversified consortium and geographical distribution of the experiment sites, fluency in English is mandatory. Knowledge in Arabic, German, Italian and/or French, and are highly desirable.

Key responsibilities and duties

  • Gathering data on aquatic ecosystems by field sampling and by designing and conducting mesocosm experiments in close communication with all relevant partners within the CYCLOLIVE consortium.
  • Coordinating sampling and biological and physico-chemical analysis with the involved partners.
  • Quantify abundances of phyto-, micro-, and zooplankton using microscopy and modern image-based flow cytometric approaches (e.g., FlowCam) aided by AI approaches.
  • Synthesize data and results for publication of the overall outcome of the studies comparing the impact of treated and untreated olive mill wastewater on local aquatic ecosystems.

Mandatory Requirements

  • PhD degree in Environmental Biology/Biotechnology or equivalent.
  • Experience in work with aquatic organisms, field measurements and at least basic laboratory analyse. 
  • Excellent communication skills in English.
  • Highly motivated team-worker, with an independent and self-organised working style.

Desirable qualifications and competencies

  • Experience in conducting mesocosm experiments.
  • Experience in processing plankton samples, using classical methods (e. g. inverted and epifluorescence microscopy) and/or plankton imaging systems.
  • Experience in using aquatic sensors (CTD, pH, O2, Chl a etc.).
  • Proficiency in data handling, computing and/or programming (using e.g. R, Python etc.).
  • Knowledge in Arabic, German, Italian and/or French.
  • Other experiences relevant for the overall project, such as experience in industrial wastewater treatment, running experiments under semi-arid and arid climate etc.

Our offer

We offer an interesting position in a large international network spanning an unusual broad field of expertise and with immediate societal relevance. The candidate will further benefit from a dynamic modern scientific environment at IGB. We foster flat hierarchies and active participation. We allow maximum individual freedom, enabling everyone to develop and use their creativity to the best of their abilities.

Salary is paid according to the German salary scheme for the public sector (TVöD Bund). The position is intended for full-time post-doctoral research, but is principally suited for job sharing or part-time work. It is paid according to the German salary scheme for the public sector (TVöD Bund) as an 100 % position at E13 if the personal requirements are met. It is a fixed-term position, initially limited to 33 months.

We foster your career development by providing qualification and training opportunities. We actively support the reconciliation of work and family life.

The IGB is committed to diversity. We welcome every qualified application, regardless of sex and gender, origin, nationality, religion, belief, health and disabilities, age or sexual orientation. IGB is committed to increasing the number of women in this field, therefore applications from women are particularly welcome. Disabled applicants with equal qualification and aptitude will be given preferential consideration.

Are you interested?

We look forward to receiving your application by 26.07.2024 with the usual documents (cover letter, CV (including certificates if relevant) and letters of recommendation). Please state the job reference number 23/2024 and apply exclusively via our recruitment platform at

Questions can be directed to Dr. Jens C. Nejstgaard by e-mail at , Dr. Stella A. Berger by e-mail at , and/or Dr. Ayoub El Ghadraoui by e-mail at


"Research for the future of our freshwaters" is the mission of IGB – Germany’s largest and one of the leading international centres for freshwater research. In order to investigate different aspects of freshwater ecosystems, their biota and societal relevance, we unit a wide range of disciplines and understand research as a joint effort. With more than 350 employees and guests from all over the world, we conduct research at five locations in Berlin and at Lake Stechlin (Brandenburg). IGB is a member of the German Leibniz Association and the Forschungsverbund Berlin e. V.