Junior Research Scientist in soil science – Soil pore space dynamic


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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment under the dual authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Research.

INRAE is recruiting researchers by open competition and offering permanent position.

It is a major player in research and innovation created on 1st of January 2020. INRAE is a research institute resulting from the merger of INRA and IRSTEA. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France.

The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

Work environment, missions and activities

You will be recruited within the "Environnement Méditerranéen et Modélisation des Agro-Hydrosystèmes" (EMMAH) unit that undertakes research aiming to understand and model agrosystem functioning in interaction with underground hydrosystems. At EMMAH, you will join the "Dynamique des Interactions dans les Sols : Contaminants, Organismes Vivants et Eau" (DISCOVE) team. This multidisciplinary team integrates research in soil ecology, soil physics and transfer, and applied mathematics. The work carried out by DISCOVE aims to assess and model the impact of climate change and the agroecological transition on soil invertebrates and their bioturbation activities, as well as the consequences of these activities on pore space and mass transfers in the soil (water and contaminants in aqueous or colloidal phases).

At the interface between soil transfer physics and soil ecology, you will be in charge of developing a research programme focused on understanding the relationships between the pore space structure and mass transfers in soil, with special attention to dynamic processes making the pore space change over time, especially the activity of soil invertebrates.

To achieve this, you will rely on—and continue to develop—non-invasive functional imaging methods developed within the unit. Based on X-ray Computed Tomography and magnetic resonance imaging techniques, it will be possible to characterise the three-dimensional organization of the pore space and its evolution (especially under the effect of soil invertebrate activity), and to observe and quantify the associated mass transfer processes. From the image time series, you will identify relevant synthetic descriptors of the pore space structure. You will use these descriptors to quantify certain parameters of water transfer models, or adapt these models to take these descriptors into account. You will benefit in this task from the presence at EMMAH of the development team of the VSoil modelling platform, which will be the integration tool for your modelling activities. In a second phase, you will extend your work by considering changes in pore space linked to other processes such as plant rooting, and by exploring the possibilities of using other imaging techniques.

Your work will contribute to characterising and modelling the impact of climate change and the agroecological transition on the evolution of soil pore space, and on the transport processes that take place there. It will help identify possible ways to mitigate the consequences of these changes and ensure sustainable management of soil functions.

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Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent.
Solid skills in the use, development, or implementation of numerical models, ideally in the field of mass transfer (water, solutes, colloidal particles) in porous media are highly recommended. Experience in using image analysis software or writing scripts/routines in this field, and ideally experience in using imaging instruments (benchtop or medical X-ray tomographs, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging setups, synchrotron, neutron imaging) would also be desirable.

Knowledge of soil science would be a plus.

Candidates should have a good command of English (both written and spoken), and long-term international experience would also be desirable. Successful candidates who have not yet acquired this experience abroad will be required to do so after their probationary period (1st year).

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from:

- 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
- parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: training, career advise;
- social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
- holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

For international scientists: please visit your guide to facilitate your arrival and stay at INRAE

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CR-2024-AGROECOSYSTEM-5
  • Corps: CR
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 23
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