Open positions

Master thesis announcement:

Predicting the bioavailability of tungsten (W) in W contaminated soil using different soil chemical methods

Tungsten (W) is a transition metal that resides in the chromium (Cr) group (Group VI) of the periodic table along with Cr and molybdenum (Mo). A variety of W minerals is known but only four (wolframite ((Fe, Mn) WO4), hübnerite (MnWO4), ferberite (FeWO4) and scheelite (CaWO4)) are of economic importance, with the latter being heavily mined in Felbertal, Salzburg Austria.

Increasing industrial and military use of W-based products, ranging from household appliances to high-end technology goods, opened new pathways of W into environmental systems. Main routes of entry into the environment include emission and discharge of W-containing waste products by W production plants, military activities, W tire stud and road abrasion, coal combustion and soil fertilizer application.

The aim of this master thesis is to investigate W uptake by soy (Glycine max) depending on soil chemical properties and to test a range of soil chemical methods to predict W phytoavailability. Due to the close chemical similarity between W and molybdenum (Mo, same atomic radius, coordination & redox chemistry) the effect of W on plant N assimilation (Mo containing nitrate reductase) and symbiotic N2 fixation (Mo containing nitrogenase) by Bradyrhizobium japonicum will be monitored using the δ15N natural abundance method.

Results will serve as scientific basis to help assessing the potential risks of elevated W concentrations in soils and provide new insights into the behaviour of W in natural systems.

The work will include greenhouse and laboratory experiments.

Duration: approximately 6 months

Supervisors: Dr Eva Oburger, Prof Andreas Richter

Location: Division of Terrestrial Ecosystem Research, Department of Microbial Ecology and Ecosystem Science, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, A-1090 Wien

If you are interested, please contact:

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The Summer Research Experience (SRE) at the Division of Terrestrial Ecosystems, Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science (TER@DMES), provides a unique opportunity to:

  • Participate in a research project with one of the researchers at TER as a first step in your personal research career;
  • Broaden your practical and theoretical expertise by working in a competitive and international research environment;
  • Become a member of the scientific team at TER and join the publication of the results from the study you are participating in.

Who should apply?

  • You are a Masters student in Ecology and Ecosystems, Environmental Sciences or a similar Mastersprogram (ideally without a Masters thesis);
  • You would like to get hands-on experience in state-of-the-art techniques and scientific instrumentation;
  • You would like explore one of the research areas at TER (
  • You are fluent in English and are able to work both independently and in a team of scientists;
  • You are a student at a university in Austria (although we will give priority to students from the University of Vienna).

What do we provide?

  • We will grant up to 3 minor employments in 2016;
  • The minor employments come with a total gross income of approximately 1,000 EUR for each employment;
  • We will provide full integration in the division of TER and full access to all facilities, including computer and internet resources.

How to apply?

Please send the following information in a single PDF file to

  • A CV including your full contact details (telephone, email, skype) and an outline of your studies so far (e.g. where and with whom you have written your Bachelors thesis);
  • A one-page motivation letter detailing the reasons behind applying for the SRE and your expectations for the placement;
  • Your availability for a 6-week period from July to September 2016;

Deadline for the application is June 5th, 2016. You should indicate how you can be contacted during the first two weeks of June. You will be informed about the outcome of of your application by the latest June20th, 2016.