2 PhD student positions in Agricultural / Environmental Economics


The Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, has openings for:

2 PhD student positions in Agricultural / Environmental Economics (TV-L E13, 65%) (f/m/d)

The positions are part of the junior research group Transformation and Sustainability Governance in South American Bioeconomies (SABio). SABio ( is an international research group that works closely with partners in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay to deliver evidence-based policy recommendations to foster a sustainable and equitable transition from fossil-based to bio-based agri-food systems. Each doctoral researcher will work on one of the following research areas:

  1. Bio-based value chains and market integration: The transition towards a bio-based economy can bring new markets and economic activities to rural areas, create new employment opportunities, and diversify income sources for the local population. These new enterprises and their value chains can be based on circular business models, cascading uses of biomass, and/or high-tech companies that use small amounts of biomass but have high value-added. This research area will focus on how these bio-based value chains are organized and make use of the local biodiversity, what models of benefit-sharing they adopt, and how they affect the livelihoods of the population in rural areas (e.g. in terms of income, employment, gender equity, etc.)
  2. Technological and institutional innovations in the bioeconomy: The success of the bioeconomy depends to a large extent on the sustainable production and trade of biomass. However, uptake of some bio-based technologies remains low and their impact on socioeconomic and environmental outcomes is not well understood. Also, the effectiveness of institutional innovations that could encourage their uptake and help sectors move away from fossil resources is often context-specific, and there is little evidence on what approaches work best in what context. This research area therefore focuses on how technological innovations (e.g. bio-based substitutes for synthetic inputs, improved crop varieties) and institutional innovations (e.g. voluntary low-carbon and sustainability standards, regulatory trade policies) can help reduce our dependence on fossil resources and improve land use and farm sustainability.

The PhD students will be supervised by the research group leader, Dr. Jorge Sellare, and co-supervised by Prof. Dr. Jan Börner.

Starting date: September 1st, 2023 (or soon thereafter)
Application deadline: May 31st, 2023
Location: The students will be based at ZEF, in Bonn, Germany

Your profile:

  • Master’s degree in Agricultural/Environmental Economics or related fields (applicants who will have finished their Master’s degree by the end of August can also apply)
  • Experience with quantitative research methods and related software (e.g. R, STATA)
  • Excellent speaking and writing skills in English
  • Good knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese
  • Willingness and ability to travel to South America for data collection and workshops
  • Prior work experience in Latin America is an asset

Your tasks:

  • Conduct research on one of the two research areas listed above using quantitative methods (e.g. econometric techniques for impact evaluation, choice experiments, life-cycle assessments, etc.)
  • Compile and analyse primary and secondary data
  • Prepare and publish research papers in international journals in collaboration with the research group leader and local partners
  • Write policy briefs based on your research and blog entries for the project’s website
  • Support the organization of workshops with various stakeholders in South America
  • Travel internationally for data collection, cooperation with partners, and presentation of research results at conferences and workshops

We offer:

  • 3 years of employment contract with the University of Bonn (TV-L E13, 65%)
  • Full funding for field work, travel, and related research costs
  • Stimulating international and interdisciplinary research environment and PhD Program
  • Excellent networks of national and international research partners
  • Support in personal career

How to apply:

Interested candidates should submit their application via e-mail, in one combined PDF file, to Dr. Jorge Sellare ( by May 31st, 2023 with the subject line PhD Application – SABio.

Application documents should include a cover letter (1-2 pages) indicating which of the two research areas is of primary interest and describing how your profile fits the topic, CV, academic transcripts, a sample of your past academic work (e.g. research paper or Master thesis – not necessarily finished, work in progress is also accepted) and contact information for two references.

The Center for Development Research (ZEF) / University of Bonn is an equal-opportunity
employer and encourages applications from female candidates and minorities. You do not need to be a German- or EU citizen, nor have a work/residence permit in order to apply.


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