Research Assistant/Associate (w/m/d)

PhD position in geometry-based joint geological-geophysical inversion



Florian Wagner


+49 241 80-49881



Institute for Applied Geophysics and Geothermal Energy

Our Profile

Given the challenges in geothermal operations and the ambitious expansion plans for geothermal energy in many countries, there is an urgent need for experts with a broad understanding of geothermal systems. How can such systems be operated in the most efficient and safe manner? Within the Marie Curie Innovative Training Network EASYGO - Efficiency and Safety in Geothermal Operations, funded by the European Commission, the IDEA League universities TU Delft (TUD), ETH Zurich (ETH), RWTH Aachen University (RWTH), Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi) and 10 industry partners are addressing this question from different perspectives, integrating geology, geophysics, geochemistry, advanced modeling and process engineering. In this framework, EASYGO is looking forward to train tomorrow’s leading geothermal energy experts. Please find additional information on EASYGO as well as detailed project descriptions of all 13 PhD positions on In case you want to apply for multiple EASYGO positions, limit the number of applications to 3, and indicate other positions you have applied for together with a clear order of preference in your motivation letter.

In this project, the successful applicant will conduct cutting-edge research work at the interface of model- and data-driven geophysical inversion in the context of geothermal reservoir characterization. Imaging of geological structures with sharp parameter changes across layer boundaries is challenging using conventional smoothness-constrained inversion of geophysical data sets. Advanced regularization approaches consider constant geostatistical properties throughout the parameter domain and therefore fail to capture the complexity of 3D geological models including fault networks, fault-surface interactions, unconformities and dome structures. In light of these challenges, the candidate will evaluate geometry-based inversion using an implicit potential-field interpolation approach for an optimized representation of complex 3D reservoir models with low parametrizations. Geophysical observations and geological prior knowledge will be used in a hybrid approach between model- and data-driven inversion quantifying the overall uncertainty of the system. The work will leverage on existing open-source software packages in geological modeling (e.g., GemPy, and geophysical inversion (e.g., pyGIMLi,

The research will mainly be conducted at the Institue for Applied Geophysics and Geothermal Energy at RWTH Aachen University (with research visits at ETH Zurich and industry partners). Our main research foci are numerical reservoir simulation, petrophysics, and applied geophysical imaging of the shallow subsurface with electromagnetic methods. We combine high-performance numerical process simulations with petrophysical data measured in the laboratory and in boreholes. Applications are manifold and include geological reservoir engineering for geothermal energy, geological CO2 storage, and hydrological applications. The team consists of about 20 people, from which scientists (Postdoctoral researchers, PhD students) represent three quarters and administrative and technical staff represent one quarter.

You can expect a very diverse and challenging job in an international and multidisciplinary work environment. RWTH Aachen University is part of the ABC/J Geoverbund and therefore well connected with Colonge and Bonn Universities and the Forschungszentrum Jülich. RWTH is an equal opportunity employer. Therefore, we specifically encourage applications of qualified women and minorities.

How to apply:

Please submit your application no later than October 31, 2020 as a single PDF file named EASYGO_11_YourLastname_YourFirstname.pdf containing a motivation letter, CV, M.Sc. certificate and grades for the individual courses (highlighting courses relevant for this position)to Language certificates and documents showing practical experience in the field are desirable. Please note that this file will be shared with members of the EASYGO recruitment committee at all four participating IDEA League universities and one industry representative.

Please note that EU ITN mobility rule applies (see guide for applicants here:, meaning that applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.

Your Profile

- University degree (Master or equivalent) in the geosciences (preferably with a focus on geophysics)
- Experience in numerical modeling and inversion in theory and practice
- Experience in applied geophysical methods
- Proficient programming skills (preferably in Python)
- Good English knowledge (written & spoken)
- High degree of initiative, discipline and team spirit
- Ability to work scientifically and independently

Your Duties and Responsibilities

- Development of an approach to integrate geological and geophysical data in geothermal reservoir characterization
- Evaluation of geometry-based inversion using an implicit potential-field interpolation approach for an optimized representation of complex 3D reservoir models with low parametrizations
- Assessing the benefits, limitations and similarities of model- and data-driven inversion
- Uncertainty quantification for subsequent simulation of THM-coupled reservoir processes
- Active participation in the various training and networking opportunities provided by EASYGO and the IDEA League doctoral school
- Presentation of own research at selected scientific conferences and publication in peer-reviewed journals

What We Offer

The successful candidate will be employed under a regular employment contract.
The position is to be filled 01.01.2021 until limited to 3 years.
This is a full-time position with the possibility of a part-time contract upon request.
The successful candidate has the opportunity to pursue a doctoral degree in this position.
The salary corresponds to pay grade EG !3 TV-L of the German public service salary scale (TV-L).
RWTH is a certified family-friendly University. We support our employees in maintaining a good work-life balance with a wide range of health, advising, and prevention services, for example university sports. We also offer a comprehensive continuing education scheme and a public transportation ticket available at a significantly reduced price.
RWTH is an equal opportunities employer. We therefore welcome and encourage applications from all suitably qualified candidates, particularly from groups that are underrepresented at the University. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability or age. RWTH is strongly committed to encouraging women in their careers. Female applicants are given preference if they are equally suitable, competent, and professionally qualified, unless a fellow candidate is favored for a specific reason.
As RWTH is committed to equality of opportunity, we ask you not to include a photo in your application.
You can find information on the personal data we collect from applicants in accordance with Articles 13 and 14 of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at

Application deadline:31.10.2020
Mailing Address:Florian Wagner
Applied Geophysics and Geothermal Energy (GGE)
RWTH Aachen University, Mathieustr. 10
52074 Aachen, Germany
Applicants are invited to submit their applications via email. For data protection reasons, however, we recommend sending applications via mail.