PhD Position on faecal sludge dewatering and settling for improved global sanitation

WorkplaceDübendorf, Zurich region, Switzerland
CategoryEnvironment / Sustainable Development
PositionJunior Researcher / PhD Position


Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, is an internationally networked aquatic research institute within the ETH Domain (Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology). Eawag conducts research, education and expert consulting to achieve the dual goals of meeting direct human needs for water and maintaining the function and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

The departments Sandec and Process Engineering are seeking a highly motivated and qualified individual for a

PhD Position on faecal sludge dewatering and settling for improved global sanitation

This PhD position is part of a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). The project aims to better understand the mechanisms governing the solid-liquid separation of faecal sludge during collection and treatment.

Project Summary: Globally, 40% of the population is served by onsite sanitation, and in low-income countries entire urban areas are not served by sewers. Methods for the management of faecal sludge from onsite sanitation are desperately needed, as in low-income countries it is mostly discharged untreated in the urban environment, placing a huge burden on public and environmental health. Solid-liquid separation is one of the greatest obstacles in developing management solutions, as faecal sludge consists of over 95% water. Direct transfer of solid-liquid separation experience from wastewater treatment is not possible due to the lack of understanding of governing mechanisms for faecal sludge, much different characteristics, and 1-2 orders of magnitude of variability. However, wastewater research provides insights into possible mechanisms. For example, extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) excreted by microorganisms governs solid-liquid separation in wastewater sludge, and therefore microbial community plays a large role in determining separation performance. Faecal sludge is contained onsite in oxygen-limited conditions, which leads to EPS degradation, especially at long residence times. With lower concentrations of EPS, particle properties and environmental conditions affecting surface charge are expected to more likely govern solid-liquid separation. The objective of this research is to understand governing mechanisms of solid-liquid separation of faecal sludge, specifically, the role of microbial community, EPS, surface charge and particle properties.Ultimately, the goal is to translate this fundamental understanding into improved faecal sludge treatment, by linking with ongoing field research in Tanzania.


  • Experimental design, laboratory skills and data management
  • Manage budget, operational and financial reports
  • Write scientific publications, reports, policy briefs, and guidelines

  • A master’s degree in sanitary / environmental engineering, with applied microbiology focus
  • Also beneficial, experience with sanitation and faecal sludge management in Sub-Saharan Africa and/or Asia
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Willingness to travel
  • Excellent knowledge of written and spoken English

Eawag offers a unique research and working environment (?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> and is committed to promoting equal opportunities for women and men and to support the compatibility of family and work. Applications from women are especially welcome. For more information about Eawag and our work conditions please consult ?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> and ?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> .

The position is available at Sandec/Eawag in Dübendorf. The duration of the PhD program is generally three to four years. The position starts as soon as filled. Applications from 20 November 2017, until filled. Applications should include a cover letter describing the applicant’s motivation for pursuing a PhD, a complete resume, and contact information for three references. Copies of prior publications or theses will also be considered.

For enquiries please contact Dr. Linda Strande linda.strande [at] eawag[.]ch.

We look forward to receive your application through this webpage. Any other way of applying will not be considered. Please click on the button below, this will take you directly to the application form

In your application, please refer to
and reference  JobID 38024.

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