Doctoral candidate (f/m/d)

Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung GmbH (ZMT), Bremen

The Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (www.leibniz-zmt.de) in Bremen is a member of the Leibniz Association, which is supported by the German Federal and State Governments. Through its research, ZMT contributes to developing science-based strategies for sustainable use of tropical coastal systems.

The Working Group ‘Deliberation, Valuation & Sustainability’ at ZMT has a vacancy for a

Doctoral candidate (f/m/d)

(Reference number: 129 - DVS)

to start in January 2020 with a focus on environmental indicators of wastewater pollution.

Description of the project: The SÖF BMBF-funded Junior Research Group project “Transdisciplinary Science for Sustainable Tourism” (TransTourism) explores interconnections between the global tourism economy and local social-ecological challenges in small-scale tourism destinations along tropical coasts, with a focus on tourism-generated wastewater pollution.

Tourism-generated wastewater is a near-invisible problem that can threaten livelihoods, human health, and the health of ecosystems. Often the effects of wastewater on the environment are subtle and difficult to connect with the priorities of people. Environmental indicators can bridge this divide, transforming environmental parameters (e.g., dissolved inorganic nitrogen) into information directly useful to stakeholders and decision makers. However, indicators are not neutral, but embedded in institutions and implicitly carry an assessment of what is considered important. Sébastien et al (2014) assess indicators according to the quality of the information ("indicator factors"), the knowledge and experience of the recipient ("user factors"), and the external framework ("policy factors"), and show that “indicator factors” can be the least relevant criteria to stakeholders. Further, as much work on indicators has occurred in temperate regions, increased research is necessary in the tropics, including calibration between geographical regions.

Your PhD project will be truly interdisciplinary. You will identify environmental indicators of coastal tourism-generated wastewater and link them to the perceptions and priorities of stakeholders. A subset of indicators will be selected through a participatory process, and then measured at three small tourism communities along tropical coasts (in Tanzania, Indonesia, and a third TBD site), and finally evaluated for user, indicator, and policy factors. You will explicitly take into account local ecological and traditional knowledge during indicator selection and post-hoc evaluation. Where possible, data collection for select indicators will occur in participation with interested stakeholders. Your work fits into the project TransTourism by bridging ecosystem impacts to stakeholder priorities, suggesting important indicator and decision criteria for wastewater management.

Your project will also be transdisciplinary to develop the research in collaboration with local stakeholders. Environmental indicators will be refined based on workshops and focus groups, for the relevance of the project to local stakeholders.  In order to build relationships with project partners in partner countries, extended field stays are required. As such, a candidate must be able to travel frequently and live in the tropics for up to five months at a time, for example in Tanzania and Indonesia. The 4.5 year funding period for the PhD project (compared to the usual 3) aims to ensure time for transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary project integration.


  • Develop and implement an individualized PhD research agenda in close interaction with Dr. Marie Fujitani, and the DVS working group at ZMT
  • Conduct a review of the literature and identify candidate indicators
  • Refine indicators using interview and questionnaire data from other team members, and from participating in stakeholder workshops along with other team members
  • Conduct focus group discussions as necessary to incorporate local ecological and traditional knowledge
  • Sample the selected indicators across three sites, and compare them across the different contexts
  • Evaluate indicators based on indicator, user, and policy factors
  • Publish research in international peer-reviewed/scientific journals
  • Cooperate closely with the other team members of TransTourism and contribute to the successful implementation of the project


  • An excellent Master’s degree in the field of sustainability science, environmental science, ecology, biology, marine biology, conservation biology, geography, or a related field
  • Solid background in environmental indicators, bioindicator experience a plus
  • Experience measuring environmental indicators, preferably in marine or aquatic environments
  • Strong skills in quantitative methods and R
  • Experience conducting interviews, workshops, or stakeholder participatory processes highly desired
  • Desire to do interdisciplinary work, and engage with natural and social scientists employing both qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Desire to engage with non-academic stakeholders
  • Effective interpersonal communication skills and the ability to work well in a team
  • Ability to work independently, with a result-oriented self-reliant work mode, with initiative and willingness to take on unexpected tasks
  • Advanced written and oral communication skills in English, demonstrated scientific writing skills
  • Flexibility to travel internationally, and spend extended time at tropical field sites
  • Experience working abroad in difficult field conditions is preferred
  • Scientific dive experience is a plus
  • Local language skills (Bahasa Indonesia, Kiswahili) are a plus

For additional information please contact: Dr. Marie Fujitani (marie.fujitani(at)leibniz-zmt.de).

Details of the position:

  • The candidate will be on a 54-month contract
  • Salary will be paid according to the German TV-L EG 13
  • The post will be filled as a PhD Student position (66,6%)
  • ZMT is an equal opportunity employer
  • Applicants with a migration background are welcome
  • Disabled persons with comparable qualification receive preferential status

We offer:

  • An exciting working environment in an interdisciplinary and internationally oriented institute and research project
  • Possibilities to build and extend an international professional network and participate in a research field of high public and scientific interest
  • A family-friendly working environment

Submission of application:

Please send your application including: 1) a cover letter , 2) a copy of the master's (Diplom) and bachelor’s certificates including grades and number of credit points, 3) a complete CV with a list of publications and skills, and the names, titles, relationships (e.g. thesis advisor), email addresses, and telephone numbers of two referees, 4) a sample chapter or published paper, and 5) a brief proposal of no more than two pages (references not in page limit) outlining ideas for a PhD research agenda based on your experience and interest, within the frame of the description above, by November 15, 2019 as a single pdf file with the reference number “129 – DVS” to Mrs. Lena Oehlmann, email: bewerbung(at)leibniz-zmt.de.

Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research, Fahrenheitstraße 6, D-28359 Bremen