PhD student to investigate the Chemistry of People Indoors


Stellenangebot vom 25. August 2020

Position available within the VOC Measurements Group for a

PhD student

to investigate the Chemistry of People Indoors

The average person spends most of his/her life in enclosed spaces (~90% for the average American), so the composition of indoor air is an important factor for exposure, and thereby for human health. Buildings offer partial protection against pollutants of outdoor origin but enhance exposures to particles and gases that are emitted or produced indoors. Indoor living spaces typically contain multiple inanimate, fixed sources of chemicals such as building and decoration materials, and furnishings, and such emission rates are reasonably well characterized. In contrast, human beings are a mobile, potent, chemically diverse and highly variable source of reactive chemicals in indoor spaces. We emit hundreds of chemicals from our breath and skin directly, and many more products form through reaction with oxidants such as ozone and OH. As a result, the impact of human beings remains a relatively poorly quantified but important factor in indoor air quality.

Within the framework of this PhD, indoor emissions from human beings will be investigated, and their subsequent chemistry explored. Particular emphasis will be given to volatile organic compounds (VOC). Measurements will be taken using climatically controlled chambers and from real world environments with high human occupancy (e.g. a cinema) as well as individual breath sampling. This is an exciting new field with a high potential for discovery.

Project Activities

* Make VOC measurements using state of the art mass spectrometers (GC-MS and PTR-MS)

* Data evaluation and interpretation

* Presentation at international conferences and publication in scientific journals.


* Excellent BSc or M.Sc. in chemistry, physics or natural sciences, and interest in atmospheric chemistry/indoor air.

* Experience in air composition measurement by mass spectrometry, particularly of volatile organic compounds would be advantageous

* English language proficiency.

The contract will be for 3 years. Payment and benefits will be according to the German TVöD salary scale (65% E13).

The Max Planck Society strives for gender equality and diversity. Specifically, the Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

We look forward to receiving your application. Please upload your application – including a letter of motivation, CV, and contact information of two references – to our portal:

For scientific inquiries, please contact (phone: +49 6131 305 4500)

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