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PhD position to investigate the microbial control of waterborne viruses

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Our group is interested in waterborne viruses, which threaten public health with a range of diseases from diarrhea to hepatitis and meningitis. Viruses enter natural water bodies via the discharge of wastewater. Compared to other pathogens, human enteric viruses (e.g., norovirus or enterovirus) can exhibit a prolonged stability in the environment and considerable resistance to disinfection. These traits facilitate their transmission through the environment to new hosts. However, we currently only have limited information on the concentration, distribution and frequency of occurrence of pathogenic viruses in natural water bodies, their environmental persistence, and the risk they ultimately pose to humans.

The objective of this project is to investigate the role of bacteria and protists in removing and inactivating human viruses in surface water. While it is well-known that microorganisms greatly reduce virus persistence in the environment, the associated drivers and mechanisms are poorly understood. We will use microcosm experiments to investigate how microbial ecology and physiology (e.g., diversity, growth stage) modulates virus removal. The ultimate goal is to identify measurable indicators to predict microbial virus removal rates in natural and human-impacted water bodies, and to predict public health risks associated with surface water use.

We are looking for highly motivated candidates with a Master’s degree in environmental sciences or engineering, biology or a related field. We will collaborate with scientists from the Laboratory for Infectious Disease and the Environment of the US Geological Survey in Wisconsin (USA), therefore applicants must be willing to spend several months in the US. A good command of both spoken and written English is essential.

The position will start as soon as possible. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. PhD applicants must be accepted by the EPFL Doctoral School in order to pursue a PhD. For more information, please see http://phd.epfl.ch/edce.

For further information about this lab and project, consult lce.epfl.ch. For additional information about obtaining a PhD at EPFL, please consult http://phd.epfl.ch/prospective.

To apply, please send the following documents as a single pdf file to [email protected]:

·       a letter of motivation

·       your CV

·       the name and contact information of at least two references

·       1-2 page summary of your Master thesis

·       A transcript of the grades of your Master degree


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