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My knowledge is shaping the future.

PhD position

Environmental Stressors and Pandemics

Starting date


Duration of contract

3 years


up to German TVöD 13

Type of employment


The susceptibility to contagious respiratory diseases depends, among other things, on the air quality. Accordingly, it can be assumed that diseases can spread to different degrees in areas with different air quality. In Germany, too, the air quality is neither spatially nor temporally constant, but varies greatly depending on emissions and meteorology. Against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, these relationships are of great interest. Initial publications suggest that the spread of Covid-19 infections is facilitated by fine dust.

As part of a DFG project, the relationship between air quality and infections with influenza or COVID-19 is being investigated on the basis of health data from Baden-Württemberg. The statistical analysis of these disease data in connection with historical air quality data form the basis for the position advertised here. The aim is to investigate the influence of fine dust on influenza and Covid-19 infections, as well as the possible influences of other stressors such as nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide and temperature. For this purpose, suitable statistical models should be selected and adapted to the available data. The results will then be used within the DFG project, among other things, to adapt dispersion models to the available data.

The DLR offers doctoral students comprehensive and interdisciplinary training in various areas. The scientific training takes place in cooperation with various universities in a dynamic and excellent scientific environment at the most modern facilities and within the framework of pioneering, innovative projects. Postgraduate students will learn how to develop integrated concepts to explore health issues in aviation and manned spaceflight, as well as related disease patterns on Earth. In addition, the conditions for life in extreme environments are researched in order to better understand the earth's ecosystem and to enable the search for life on other planets in manned and unmanned missions.

Your tasks:

Your task as a doctoral candidate in the project will be the statistical analysis of the available environmental and disease data. The focus is on Covid-19 and influenza. In particular, a comparison of these two infections is of interest in order to be able to draw possible conclusions for future pandemics.

Our offer:

  • a doctoral position according to TVöD (E13 / 2)
  • a state-of-the-art research environment
  • effective support from a team consisting of two supervisors and a mentor
  • an interdisciplinary training program
  • Cologne - a lively city with a rich cultural life, successful scientific centers of innovation and a dynamic corporate world

Please send us:

  • motivation letter
  • curriculum vitae with certificates

Your qualifications:

  • Ability to work independently and creatively in a multidisciplinary team
  • Great interest and motivation for life science research in aerospace
  • Degree in a mathematical-statistical subject
  • Excellent qualification and a diploma or master’s degree that enables participation in a German doctoral program. Candidates who are about to graduate are also invited to apply
  • Excellent knowledge of statistics
  • Good skills in a statistical programming language (preferably R)
  • Very good knowledge of English (oral and written)
  • Good computer skills
  • Experience in processing and analyzing data
  • Willingness to travel nationally and internationally in the context of conferences and collaboration

Your benefits:

Look forward to a fulfilling job with an employer who appreciates your commitment and supports your personal and professional development. Our unique infrastructure offers you a working environment in which you have unparalleled scope to develop your creative ideas and accomplish your professional objectives. Our human resources policy places great value on a healthy family and work-life-balance as well as equal opportunities for persons of all genders (f/m/x). Individuals with disabilities will be given preferential consideration in the event their qualifications are equivalent to those of other candidates.

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Technical contact

Prof. Dr. Jörn Rittweger
Institute of Aerospace Medicine

Phone: +49 2203 601-3080

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Vacancy 59292

HR department Cologne

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DLR site Cologne, Headquarters

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DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine

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