Doctoral student – Biofabrication for in-situ excreta treatment

Zurich, Zurich, ch
Company: ETH Zurich
Category: Community and Social Service Occupations
Published on 2021-06-22 04:11:02

Doctoral student – Biofabrication for in-situ excreta treatment

The Global Health Engineering group in the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering considers how engineered tools, the natural environment, organizational systems and human health are interconnected. Our work looks at ways of reducing the negative impacts of modern life while addressing equity and social justice, particularly in urban areas of over-exploited countries. Methodologically, we conduct applied research by working with interdisciplinary partners and relevant stakeholders, at the interface of engineering and economics.

Job description

Approximately 2.6 billion people do not have access to safe sanitation, but unsafe treatment and widespread dumping exposes billions more people, even those with access, to the myriad health consequences of poor excreta management. And though efforts have focused on improving the affordability and accessibility of safe emptying services, parallel in-situ technologies are required to hygienise pit-contained excreta that is too difficult or expensive to extract for off-site treatment.

Mycelium is not only one of the most exciting developments in biofabrication, it’s need to degrade and consume the materials around it, presents tremendous opportunities for excreta management. By testing different strains, growing conditions, and product configurations, we aim to develop low-cost pit inserts/accessories that can accelerate sludge degradation, extend the life of latrines, and/or reduce the need for offsite treatment.

Your profile

We are looking for an extraordinary candidate who is as committed to scientific discovery as she/he is to universal sanitation. The ideal candidate will have:

  • A Masters degree in applied science or engineering
  • Laboratory (chemical, biological) experience (e.g. sample preparation, plate enumeration)
  • A passion for prototyping, design, and building experience: you like to make things
  • A willingness to travel and work alone in difficult conditions: you are not afraid of getting dirty
  • Demonstrated leadership skills and team management experience
  • A curious mind, a positive attitude, a love of research
  • Excellent critical thinking and problem solving skills: you can make a new plan when something goes wrong
  • A knowledge of with 3D printing, mycology, econometrics, and/or work experience in Sub-Saharan Africa, are attractive but not required. 

    ETH Zurich

    ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.


    We look forward to receiving your online application (in English) including:

  • A 1-page letter of motivation detailing previous research experience and relevant skills in field, lab and/or theoretical work
  • A CV including publications
  • A 1-page reflection addressing the relevance, legacy and future of “international development research”. Given the dynamic nature of this conversation, non-traditional references and links to videos/memes/blogs are encouraged
  • Contact details of 2 referees
  • Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered. The position will be open until a suitable candidate is found.

    Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Tilley by email at (no direct applications).

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