Junior Research Scientist in soil science - Carbon isotopic biogeochemistry


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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 work at CEREGE (Centre de Recherche et d'Enseignement en Géosciences de l'Environnement) in Aix-en-Provence, an internationally recognised research centre on geosciences. CEREGE is a joint research unit under the auspices of Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, INRAE, IRD and Collège de France. The research at CEREGE aims to meet major societal challenges related to the environment. You will join the "Sustainable Environment" team, where you will work in collaboration with soil science researchers. You will also interact considerably with the "Climate" team, on the one hand for its strong implication in carbon cycle issues, and on the other hand for its cutting-edge analytical capabilities.

Your mission will be to develop isotopic biogeochemistry approaches (i) to understand the key mechanisms controlling the carbon cycle (and associated nutrients) in soils (particularly in relation to the biodegradation and stabilization of organic compounds) and (ii) to quantify the kinetics of these processes, which condition the temporal projections of soil carbon storage. The overall ambition of this research is to contribute to the design of (i) indicators to better quantify soil carbon flows and (ii) solutions promoting sustainable storage conditions that contribute to carbon neutrality.

Your main activity will be to implement research seeking to identify the key mechanisms governing soil carbon storage and leakage on all or part of the root/microorganism/organic matter/stabilizing mineral phases continuum. You will be involved in implementing and developing innovative analytical approaches, using the CEREGE’s cutting-edge analytical platforms, with the development of stable and radioactive carbon isotope coupling applied to soils. Finally, you will participate in more operational aspects, seeking to identify reliable prediction levers for carbon storage potential in soils in relation to the mechanisms and their kinetics.

Our research team tells you more about your future job

Within the unit, you will work on mass spectrometers powered by gas streams (He, CO2, O2, N2...). For radiocarbon, you will have to comply with strict protocols for cleanliness of the working environment.
As regards experiments, you may be required to work outdoors (on experimental stations or natural sites), and in the laboratory in a growth chamber or greenhouse. Possession of a valid driving license is recommended.

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent, preferably in soil science, environmental science and/or chemistry, biochemistry and analytical geochemistry.

Good knowledge of biogeochemistry is highly recommended, and knowledge of ecology and microbiology (particularly with regard to biotic/abiotic interactions in soils), as well as an interest in agroecology and modelling, would be additional assets. A good ability to integrate changes in scale and to conceptualise experimental approaches (on agrosystems and experimental systems, in the field or in the laboratory) is also desirable.

Experience of biogeochemical and isotopic tools is recommended, including the requirements associated with these analytical techniques. Skills in cultivation in controlled systems (phytotron, rhizotron) and experiments involving respirometry (incubation) and imaging tools would be appreciated.

You will need to be able to work independently, take responsibility, disseminate scientific results, draft research projects, and work as part of a team.

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

All persons employed by or hosted at INRAE, a public research establishment, are subject to its internal regulations, particularly with regard to the obligation of neutrality and respect for the principle of secularism. In carrying out their functions, whether or not they are in contact with the public, they must not express their religious, philosophical or political convictions through their behaviour or by what they wear.  

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CR-2024-AGROECOSYSTEM-8
  • Corps: CR
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 18
Centre Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur More information on centre

UMR 1410 Centre Européen de Recherche et d’Enseignementdes Géosciences de l’Environnement 13545 AIX-EN-PROVENCE Website

Living in France and working at INRAE Our guide for international scientists

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