Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

MSCA-COFUND-CLEAR-Doc - PhD Position #CD21-21 "Recycled materials for urban gardens"

This job offer has expired

    Université Gustave Eiffel
    Environmental science
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    21/03/2022 17:00 - Europe/Brussels
    France › Nantes
    Spain › Madrid
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND


In 2050 about 50% of all people on earth will be living in urban areas [1] and will need clean water, food, energy, social space, meeting points, relax areas and knowledge pools [2]. Urban agriculture can provide food within the city's sphere through building-integrated agriculture. In particular, urban green areas, and urban agriculture spots among them, improve regulation of runoff water, air quality and carbon storage but can also provide other services (sustainable waste management, urban landscape development, energy saving through building insulation, reduction of environmental pollution and awareness-raising and education for inhabitants, increase biodiversity, etc..). Recycling urban wastes to be used as for urban gardening is becoming more and more popular due to the importance of circular economy. However, both organic and inorganic materials used with this aim can bring contamination to the soil [3,4] with the risk of transfer to the plants. Moreover, urban soils present often degraded physico-chemical characteristic or contamination [5] and do not enable healthy plant growth. Therefore, replacing these soils with substrate mixtures (known as technosols) or amending them with other organic materials in urban environments, can contribute towards healthy production. Thus, the synergic effects of those contaminants in urban agriculture soils or technosol mixtures used as growing substrate must be assessed with intensive food production and contamination (of the soil/substrate, water and plant) being two key factors.

This PhD project aims to address these two main factors (pollution and food production) by an international partnership between two laboratories with similar scientific interests (urban gardens) and complementary skills (urban agriculture and water/soil pollution). The PhD student will study the performance of various urban wastes as substrates in intensive production systems on green roofs, in collaboration with local enterprises (waste from breweries, green coffee roasting, construction companies, etc.) and with associations (composts from urban gardens). Moreover, she/he will trace the pathways of pollutants (e.g. microplastics, trace metals) from the substrates to food passing through the soil and the plant. Other important factors (e.g. overall evaluation of total costs and life cycle assessment, carbon sequestration potential of the recycled materials) are the centre of a larger project from which the PhD student will benefit.

Scientific methodology

This PhD will consist in four main actions:

  1. The identification and quantification (see below) of pollutants from various urban wastes used as substrates in urban gardens.
  2. To evaluate the effect of these pollutants under controlled conditions (artificially contaminated) for food production at the experimental site in Madrid
  3. To follow the pathways of these contaminants from organic subtracts to food.
  4. The study of actions 1), 2) and 3) in real samples (already contaminated) and plants in Nantes.

To accomplish the objectives of this projects, the selected candidate will have access to cutting-edge techniques (e.g. solid-state-13C-NMR, 1H-NMR-relaxometry, ICP-MS/MS(QQQ), py-GC/MS, µ-FTIR). In addition, elemental CHN composition, cationic exchange capacity, electrical conductivity, and pH of control substrate, feedstock and composted substrates will be performed at the beginning of the experiment and every six months. This will allow the PhD student to characterize Soil Organic Matter (SOM) in a first phase of his/her PhD within our ICA-CSIC experiment (more details below), whereas soil chemistry and pollution will be monitored within LEE-UGE laboratory.

This project aims to assess the feasibility for food production of those mixtures of recycled materials obtained by different stabilization process, e.g. composting and co-composting, and the potential risks associated with the pollutants content/mobility.

Moreover, the PhD student will benefit from the experimental site of a research project funded by the Madrid region (Madreenroof, 2020-2024, https://madreenroof.csic.es/). The experimental design is installed at one of ICA-CSIC rooftops. Using the knowledge gained, a similar set-up will be installed for the second half of the PhD at the LEE-Université Gustave Eiffel (UGE). This will permit to use wastes from local enterprises and associations of the Nantes Metropolitan Area and to create an experimental site to develop this type of research for the long-term, comparing similar experiments in different climatic conditions (Mediterranean conditions in Madrid and suboceanic conditions in Nantes Metropolitan Area).

International mobility

The ICA-CSIC (Institute of Agricultural Sciences) and LEE-UGE (Water and Environmental Laboratory) teams have proven experience on food production and soil/water contamination respectively and urban gardens. They have recently collaborated in the past and produced scientific articles [6,7] in environmental sciences, showing that the PhD student will find a productive research environment.

The LEE-UGE supervision will be carried out by three international recognized researchers, Johnny Gasperi (microplastic and organic pollution), Denis Courtier-Murias (SOM and analytical chemistry) and Liliane Jean-Soro (urban gardens and soil/plant pollution).

The ICA-CSIC is one of the institutes of the Spanish National Council of Scientific Research, the supervision at ICA-CSIC will be carried out by two researchers with consolidated expertise in organic waste management, soil remediation, soil organic matter characterization and urban agriculture, Marco Panettieri and César Plaza.


[1]United Nations, 2019. World Population Prospects: the 2019 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables.

[2]Skar,S.L.G. et al. Blue-Green Systems 2020;2(1):1–27.

[3]B.J.-P,Grard, et al. 2019.Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society 3(1),21-34.

[4]Grard, B.J.-P. et al. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020,17,3210.

[5]De Kimpe,C.R.,Morel,J.-L. Soil Sci.2000,165(1).

[6]Panettieri,M., et al. SOIL, 6,435–451,2020.

[7]Goñi-Urtiaga et al. Understanding water interactions in co-composted biochar. In preparation."

More Information


  • High-quality doctoral training rewarded by a PhD degree, delivered by Université Gustave Eiffel.
  • Access to cutting-edge infrastructures for research & innovation.
  • Appointment for a period of 36 months based on a salary of 2 700 € (gross salary per month).
  • Job contract under the French labour legislation in force, respecting health and safety, and social security: 35 hours per week contract, 25 days of annual leave per year.
  • International mobility will be mandatory
  • An international environment supported by the adherence to the European Charter & Code.
  • Access to dedicated CLEAR-Doc trainings with a strong interdisciplinary focus, together with a Career development Plan.

Eligibility criteria

  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in possession or finalizing their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree. At the time of recruitment, applicants must be in possession of their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree which would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.
  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research career (career breaks excluded) and not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. Career breaks refer to periods of time where the candidate was not active in research, regardless of his/her employment status (sick leave, maternity leave etc). Short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account.
  • At the time of the deadline applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the call deadline.
  • Applicants must be available to start the programme on schedule (around 1st October 2022).

Selection process

Please refer to the Guide for Applicants available on the CLEAR-Doc website

Additional comments

  • The First step before applying is contacting the PhD supervisor. You will not be able to apply without an acceptation letter from the PhD supervisor.
  • Please contact the PhD supervisor for any additional detail on job offer.
  • There are no restrictions concerning the age, gender or nationality of the candidates. Applicants with career breaks or variations in the chronological sequence of their career, with mobility experience or with interdisciplinary background or private sector experience are welcome to apply.

Web site for additional job details

Offer Requirements

    Agricultural sciences: Master Degree or equivalent
    Environmental science: Master Degree or equivalent
    Chemistry: Master Degree or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent


  • PhD candidates with self-initiative and commitment to work both independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team will be highly appreciated.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills are required. She/he will present the PhD work in international conferences (Eurosoil, EGU …) and to write scientific articles and should supervise MSc/MEng students.
  • Basic notions in Spanish are welcome but not mandatory.
  • At the time of the deadline, applicants must be in possession or finalizing their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree.
  • At the time of recruitment, applicants must be in possession of their Master’s degree or equivalent/postgraduate degree which would formally entitle to embark on a doctorate.

Specific Requirements

  • Candidates must hold an MSc/MEng in Chemistry, Agricultural/Environmental Sciences, or related fields.
  • This thesis will be in cosupervision with ICA-CSIC Laboratory (Instituto de Ciencias Agrarias) in Madrid (Spain).

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Université Gustave Eiffel
Allée des ponts et chaussées
1 position(s) available at

EURAXESS offer ID: 716924


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