PhD Student on Net-Zero GHG emission target, life cycle and externalities assessment

The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland. We perform cutting-edge research in the fields of future technologies, energy and climate, health innovation and fundamentals of nature. By performing fundamental and applied research, we work on sustainable solutions for major challenges facing society, science and economy. PSI is committed to the training of future generations. Therefore, about one quarter of our staff are post-docs, post-graduates or apprentices. Altogether, PSI employs 2200 people.

For the Technology Assessment Group in the labority for Energy Systems Analysis LEA we are looking for a PhD Student on Net-Zero GHG emission target, life cycle and externalities assessment

Your tasks

PhD thesis at ETH Zurich, Switzerland The Swiss Long-Term Climate Strategy adopted by the Federal Council aims at the reduction of greenhouse gas GHG emissions to net-zero by 2050. Your work will be related to the recently established  Swiss Center of Excellence on Net-Zero Emissions SCENE. Based on economic scenarios, you will investigate the environmental consequences not only due to GHG emissions but also due to air pollution  and other life cycle burdens.

You will develop an interface connecting the output from the Swiss TIMES Energy systems model to life cycle inventory LCI modelling and an interface connecting the LCI output to environmental impact and external cost assessment. The tasks include the modelling of direct and indirect emissions of hazardous substances related to the future net-zero GHG scenarios. You will build your work on existing models for life cycle and externalities assessment and you will collaborate with project partners (primarily PSI and EMPA). Depending on the requirements of the net-zero goal, you should improve the modelling, for example the spatial resolution and/or the modelling of externalities of recycling. Key research questions include the assessment and minimization of possible negative side effects of the net-zero scenarios beyond climate effects e.g. health impacts due to emissions of fine particulates or other substances. A key question is how to balance the benefits of reduced GHG emissions against other impacts. Tools and workflows used in the project should be fair and open as far as possible.

You will be enrolled in the doctoral school of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ, see doctoral studies in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering D-MAVT.

Your profile

  • Master degree in natural science, computer science or engineering
  • Good knowledge of English
  • Strong skills in computer programming, preferably in Python
  • Knowledge of life cycle and/or externalities assessment
  • Intrinsic motivation to answer socially relevant issues in the “net-zero” context
  • Communication skills to work well in a team
  • Ability and motivation to carry out independent research

We offer

Our institution is based on an interdisciplinary, innovative and dynamic collaboration. You will profit from a systematic training on the job, in addition to personal development possibilities and our pronounced vocational training culture. If you wish to optimally combine work and family life or other personal interests, we are able to support you with our modern employment conditions and the on-site infrastructure.

For further information, please contact Dr Thomas Heck, e-mail thomas.heck@psi.ch or by phone +41 56 310 26 51.Please submit your application online by 19 February 2023 (including addresses of referees) for the position as a PhD Student (index no. 4501-00).

Paul Scherrer Institut, Human Resources Management, Serdal Varol, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland

Apply online now