Postdoctoral Fellow on the assessment of the role of forests and wood-based materials to achieve net-zero CO2 targets

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.The Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis LEA is an interdivisional laboratory of the Nuclear Energy and Safety Research Division NES and the General Energy Research Division ENE. It unites specific analytical research concerning diverse energy technologies and systems, including nuclear, fossil and (modern) renewables. In cooperation with external partners (e.g. the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ and many others), LEA carries out environmental and economic technology assessment and energy systems analyses relevant for energy policy.

For the Technology Assessment Group in the Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis LEA we are looking for a

Postdoctoral Fellowon the assessment of the role of forests and wood-based materials to achieve net-zero CO2 targets

Your tasks

You will develop a dynamic accounting framework for biogenic carbon and associated impacts on climate change in the context of forests, forestry, and the use of wood (and other biomass) as feedstock for bio-based products and construction materials. You will apply this accounting framework to perform (prospective) environmental Life Cycle Assessment LCA of wood-based products and to evaluate the role of wood-related value chains and their temporal carbon dioxide removal CDR in achieving net-zero CO2 emission goals.To this end, you will collaborate with leading experts in forest management and forest modeling as well as bio-based materials. You will use the brightway and premise frameworks, linking energy system or integrated assessment models and LCA. Furthermore, you will develop approaches for regionalized LCA and apply these to wood related value chains to take into account regional or even site-specific boundary conditions and to quantify impacts on human health and ecosystems in a regionalized way. Your tasks also include the development of web-based tools allowing for parameterized LCA of wood-based value chains, which will make the LCA accessible to a non-scientific target group.

Key research questions include the quantification of impacts on climate change due to (temporal) CO2 removal from the atmosphere by wood-based materials and products from an LCA perspective; how this role of wooden materials as temporal carbon sink compares to other CDR options from an LCA perspective; which co-benefits and adverse side-effects of such temporal CO2 removal can be quantified from an LCA perspective; and which consequential effects will come along with using wood as feedstock and construction material.

All tools and workflows will be open and FAIR. Your work will be part of a joint initiative of the ETH domain towards net-zero CO2 emissions and include collaborations and exchanges with partners from industry, the federal administration as well as national and international research institutions.

Your profile

  • PhD degree in natural science, computer science, or engineering
  • Several years of experience in Life Cycle Assessment
  • Specific advanced LCA skills: familiar with ecoinvent, brightway, and premise
  • Profound knowledge of English
  • Interest in open software development
  • Profound knowledge of Python
  • Basic experience in project management
  • Independent working style
  • Communication skills to work well in a team

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.

Your employment contract is limited to 2 years.

For further information, please contact Christian Bauer, e-mail, phone +41 56 310 23 91.

Please submit your application online by 31 January 2023 (including list of publications and addresses of referees) for the position as a Postdoctoral Fellow (index no. 4501-05).Paul Scherrer Institut, Human Resources Management, Serdal Varol, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland