The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) is offering a fully paid PhD candidate position in the framework of a newly funded ATTRACT project : Water and vegetation in a changing Environment (WAVE, www.
fnr.lu / projects / water-and-vegetation-in-a-changing-environment-2 / ).
This position is envisaged to start before 1st August 2018. The PhD candidate will be part of the Environmental Sensing and Modelling Unit at the Department of Environmental Research and Innovation (ERIN) at LIST and will work in the Catchment and Eco-
Hydrology (CAT) research group.
PhD project context
Environmental change can be observed at different spatial and temporal scales and encompasses various system properties, such as climate, land use, topography and soil properties.
The WAVE project aims to improve our understanding of the interactions between vegetation and the water balance in ecosystems, in order to enable better predictions of some of the consequences of land use and environmental change for both ecosystem services and water resources.
To elucidate the physical and biological trade-offs related to plant water transport and storage, this PhD project will investigate carbon costs related to the construction and maintenance of xylem and supporting tissues, and associated water transport and storage capacity including its vulnerability to hydraulic failure.
Specific objectives of this PhD project will include :
1. Quantifying constraints and carbon costs related to xylem water transport.
2. Assessing the effect of temperature on water transport capacity.
3. Investigating the importance of tissue water storage as buffer for pressure drops and peak water demand.
The candidate will devise an apparatus for rapid measurements of xylem conductivity and combine field work, lab work and mathematical modelling to establish general relations between sapwood hydraulic conductivity, vulnerability to hydraulic failure and associated biomass to predict optimal wood anatomy features for different environments.
The project will leverage on existing collaboration with partners in Switzerland (ETH, WSL).
Ideally, the candidate holds a Master in biological or environmental science, geo-ecology, or a related discipline, has an interest in plants and fluid dynamics, no fear of Physics, Maths and programming, and is highly motivated to pursue rigorous approaches to find definitive answers to scientific questions.
Place of employment and main place of work
how will be arranged according to needs and opportunities