ENAC – PhD position in ecohydrological modeling for climate-smart agriculture (CHANGE)

Your mission:

The Catchment Hydrology and Geomorphology Lab (CHANGE) led by Prof. Sara Bonetti at EPFL in Sion is looking for a PhD student to work on the SNSF-funded project SMART-AGRI (A global spatially-explicit quantification of the benefits of climate-smart agricultural practices under future climates).

Sustainable food production requires finding the right balance between food and nutritional security while protecting the environment and addressing climate issues. Climate‐smart agriculture has been promoted as a systematic approach for developing agricultural strategies that ensure food security in the context of climate change. However, a detailed quantification of the effects of such practices across different environmental settings and under future climates is currently missing, making it difficult to assess their actual potential. The SMART-AGRI project aims to quantify the benefits of different climate-smart practices across global cropland areas, and identify the combinations of practices that concurrently optimize multiple objectives (from crop production to climate change mitigation and preservation of environmental resources). As a PhD student, you will have the opportunity to further current understanding in this field through a combination of data analysis, numerical model development, and global-scale simulations of coupled water, energy, carbon, and nutrient dynamics under current and future climates.

Main duties and responsibilities include:

  • Perform original research in the area of ecohydrology for agroecosystems and climate-smart agriculture.
  • To lead and contribute to publications for high-impact journals.
  • Contribute to broad Lab activities (including co-supervision of MSc students and teaching assistance).

Your profile:

  • A MSc in Environmental Sciences, Physics, or Engineering.
  • Strong interest in ecohydrological modeling and applications to agroecosystems.
  • Hands-on experience with numerical modeling and analysis of large datasets.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English.
  • Ability to work independently as well as in a team.
  • Creative, enthusiastic, and willing to learn.
  • Self-motivated and have a sense for scientific novelty.
  • Experience with scientific writing is valued.

We offer:

  • A stimulating and international working environment in the new EPFL-Valais campus in Sion.
  • Competitive salary and excellent educational conditions.
  • Opportunity to perform state-of-the-art research in one of the most dynamic scientific institutions in Europe.

Start date:

September 2024 (start date is negotiable).

Work rate:



1-year fixed-term contract, renewable for 4 years according to EPFL rules.


Interested applicants should send the following documents (in a single pdf) to [email protected]:

  • CV and contact details of 2-3 references
  • A brief letter of motivation/interest in the project
  • Grades from master and bachelor studies

Screening will start on May. 10th (but the position will remain open until filled).

To be eligible for a PhD at EPFL, note that candidates also need to apply to the Doctoral Program in Civil and Environmental Engineering (EDCE).

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Prof. Sara Bonetti ([email protected]).