Studierende finden an der ETH Zürich ein Umfeld, das eigenständiges Denken fördert, Forschende ein Klima, das zu Spitzenleistungen inspiriert.
at ETH Zurich welcomes applications for a postdoctoral fellowship on the study, development and characterization of soft collectors for terrestrial and airborne environmental DNA.
The position is available for one year and renewable for up to two years based on performance. The start date will be agreed upon by both parties.
With the historic Kunming-Montreal Agreement of 18 December 2022, more than 200 countries agreed to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. But becoming nature-positive is an ambitious goal, also held-back by the lack of efficient and accurate tools to capture snapshots of global biodiversity. This is a task where robots, in combination with environmental DNA (eDNA) technologies, can make a difference. Measuring biodiversity with eDNA involves collecting and sequencing the genetic traces shed by local species in the environment. eDNA surveys are revolutionizing biodiversity monitoring because they are non-invasive and multiple species, even the most elusive ones, can be detected from a single environmental sample (e.g., water, soil, air). Sample collection is one of the most laborious and expensive parts of the workflow. Robots equipped with appropriate collection material can automate eDNA surveys and provide standardised and inexpensive biodiversity monitoring even in difficult-to-access environments.
In our work recently published in , we showed that a drone can collect eDNA from tree branches with commercially available adhesive materials (tape or humified gauze). We now want to study collectors with materials that are specifically designed for eDNA. Therefore, the proposed research project will explore new methods and materials to collect DNA and DNA-containing particles from various sources (e.g. surface, air) and substrates (e.g. soil, bark and leaves). This research includes:
The project will be hosted at , where the experiments inspiring these questions are being performed. This offers a unique opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary team of roboticists, ecologists and biologists with tight feedback between experiment and theory, and the possibility to access state-of-the-art field sites (e.g. at Zurich Zoo).
We are a motivated and creative team of roboticists affiliated with ETH and WSL. Our research goal is to push robots out of their comfort zone. We, therefore, develop versatile and adaptable robots to explore challenging natural environments rather than robots to execute tasks with precision and repeatability in simple and predictable indoor settings. On one hand, this is an opportunity to study new and exciting locomotion, perception, and control strategies to obtain rich sensory and motor skills to operate in unknown and unpredictable environments. On the other hand, our robots provide concrete solutions to some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) by finding uses in environmental monitoring, disaster mitigation, and precision agriculture.
We look forward to receiving online applications including:
Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted via our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.
For more information, specific questions regarding the position can be directed to Professor Stefano Mintchev at firstname.lastname@example.org (no applications). Review of applications will be on an ongoing basis beginning Feb 27th 2023 and continue until the position is filled.
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