Two PhD positions in Pathogen Dynamics in Indoor Air

Job Type
Job Rank
PhD student
Job Institution
EPFL, Switzerland
Job Description

Position summary
EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) invites applications for two PhD student positions in the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering. The project, co-led by Prof. Tamar Kohn (laboratory LCE) and Prof. Dusan Licina (laboratory HOBEL), will be based at the EPFL Lausanne and EPFL Fribourg campuses. The project will apply a combined experimental and modelling approaches to fundamentally understand dynamics and persistence of indoor airborne pathogens, and to identify strategies that optimize indoor climate control and low energy use. Through a set of novel experiments conducted in test chambers combined with a new generation of breathing and coughing thermal manikins, the primary goals of this project include: (1) to quantify the persistence of different respiratory pathogens under a range of environmental parameters representing the spectrum of well-ventilated to poorly ventilated rooms; (2) to understand the influence of the building controls, operational and contextual conditions that govern airborne infection risks and their mutual tradeoffs; and (3) to identify the most energy-efficient indoor climate control scenarios for crowded rooms under the real occupancy scenarios while accounting for both different airborne exposure routes.

Your profile
The position at LCE (position 1; Lausanne campus) will focus on pathogen persistence under a variety of indoor air conditions. Applicans for this position should:

Hold a Master’s degree (or to be near its completion) in Environmental Science or Engineering, Microbiology, or a related discipline.
Have a strong interest in indoor air quality and disease transmission
The position at HOBEL (position 2; Fribourg campus) will focus on building controls to minimize airborne disease. Applicants for this position should:

Be interested in topics related to building sustainability, HVAC systems, indoor air quality (aerosol dynamics, indoor particulate matter, human exposure, etc), health and well-being in the built environment
Have strong interest and aptitude in experimental research and building experimental tools.

In addition, applicants for both positions should:

Be team-oriented and have good interpersonal skills
Possess strong written and oral communication skills in English
Solid programming and data handling skills (MATLAB, R, Python, or similar) are desirable.

Main duties and responsibilities
Cutting-edge research including experimental design, data collection and analysis, and dissemination
Tight collaboration with the project partners and participation in working meetings
Teaching assistantship
Part-time supervision of MSc students

How to apply
Applicants should send in a single PDF file (max. 5 MB) including a motivation letter describing their research interests and qualifications (max. 2 pages), a CV and publication list (the latter if applicable), grade transcripts, and names and contact information (including e-mail addresses) for two references to:

with the following email subject: “PhD application – Airborne pathogens – Position 1” or “PhD application – Airborne pathogens – Position 2”.

Note: To be enrolled in the EPFL PhD program, the candidate also needs to apply, and be accepted, to the Doctoral Program in Civil and Environmental Engineering (EDCE). For EDCE, the three application deadlines each year are January 15th, April 30th and September 15th. We are seeking for candidates who will apply for the April 30th deadline. More information available online.

Intended start date for PhD students is in late Spring to early Summer 2023; however, some degree of flexibility is permitted. Applications are being reviewed as received with an interest in early appointment. Positions will remain open until filled.

What we offer
Fundamental and application-driven project that will allow you to make a strong contribution to the research community and the society
National and international development opportunities through collaborations within EPFL and co-supervision by two professors
Experimental experience together with outstanding infrastructure and an international working environment that will give you a comprehensive research portfolio
A dynamic and interdisciplinary research groups and a great working atmosphere and ample opportunities for professional and personal development with access to many continuing education courses
Career planning and networking opportunities through conferences
Competitive salaries (…)
Please note, PhD positions are awarded initially for one year. After one year of successful probation, the initial contract can be extended up to a total of four years.

For more about doctorate program at the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, see:…

For more information about LCE, see:

For more information about HOBEL, see:

For more information about Prof. Tamar Kohn, see:

For more information about Prof. Dusan Licina, see:

For more information about EPFL, see: