Field and laboratory research assistant on plant ecophysiology (PHLISCO Project)

The Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), offers a 6-month full-time research assistant position.

Plant water-use efficiency (WUE) is the ratio of biomass gained, per unit of water lost. This parameter intimately describes the link between the carbon and the water cycles at the global scales. Thus, precise estimates of WUE are crucial to predict vegetation-climatic feedbacks in a global change scenario. The project PHLISCO, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, aims at developing a novel approach to determine WUE at the whole-tree scale using plant PHLoem carbon ISotopic COmposition.

In this project, we are seeking to employ a motivated research assistant to perform laboratory and fieldwork. Ideally, the candidate would be methodical, responsible and fascinated with nature and the functioning of ecosystems. The activities and duties associated with this post will be physically located at the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), in Leioa (Bizkaia, Spain). The research assistant will work under the supervision of Dr. Teresa E. Gimeno and in close collaboration with one pre-doctoral student and other researchers involved in the project, including personnel from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). The research assistant is also expected to be willing to pursue the compelling training to become certified to work at heights unless they already hold a such valid certification.

Among other tasks, the research assistant will:

  • Perform fieldwork activities, which could require handling of potentially hazardous equipment and in harsh environmental conditions (e.g. cold or hot temperatures, under intense sun exposure, on irregular terrains and under low light). These activities include, but are not limited to:
    • Collection of plant samples at heights.
    • Measurements of gas-exchange in plants at heights.
    • Handling of heavy-duty manual tools (shovels, hammers, spanners and others).
    • Driving vehicles, including trucks with elevated platforms.
    • Use of elevated platforms.
    • Collection of morphological measurements.
    • Handling of heavy (maximum of 8 kg) equipment in the field.
    • In-situ processing of plant samples using sand paper, knifes and scalpels, among others.
    • Use of pressurized equipment (Scholander pressure chamber).
    • Perform multi-day trips to collect plant samples along geographical gradients.
  • Perform laboratory tasks, which could require handling of potentially hazardous chemical substances as well manipulation of laboratory equipment. These tasks include, but are not limited to:
    • Processing of plant samples, including (but not restricted to) the use of freeze-dryers, ball mills, centrifuges, desiccation ovens, scalpels and razor blades.
    • Handling biological enzymes, organic and inorganic solvents.
    • Elemental analyses of soil and plant samples for determination of nutrient contents.
    • Use of precision balances.
    • Handling of liquid nitrogen and ultra-freezers.
    • Grinding plant material using a ball mill.
    • Preparation of samples for microscopy analyses.
    • Analyses of sugar contents in plant samples.
  • Handling inventories, storage and organization of field and laboratory material.
  • Contribute to the organization and cleanness of the laboratory spaces used, both at the host institution, as well as at the laboratories of other entities associated to the project.
  • Be responsible for the curation and archiving of plant samples.
  • Communicate with the administration team at BC3 to streamline the purchase of necessary material to perform laboratory and field activities.
  • Coordinate the organization of field and laboratory work with other participants involved in the activities.
  • Coordinate with external users to avoid overbooking of sensible equipment.
  • Digitalize, curate, save and archive data collected during field campaigns and laboratory work.

Qualifications, experience and skills required:

  • To be in possession of a professional training degree (“FP grado medio” or equivalent) in environmental sciences, laboratory management, biology or any related field. Potential candidates holding a BSc. Degree (“Grado” or equivalent) in environmental sciences, forestry, biology and/or related fields are also encouraged to apply.
  • Valid driving permit (EU type B).
  • Experience with basic data management, administration and communicating tools: email; Windows file explorer; Microsoft office and Google workspace.
  • Fluency in Spanish and/or English
  • Interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to work in a team.

Additional experience and skills valued, but not required:

  • Previous experience in organizing and supporting field and laboratory experiments.
  • Ability to understand and communicate in Basque.
  • Fluency in the language computing R.
  • Basic statistical knowledge.
  • Experience in contributing to scientific publications.
  • Certification to work at heights.
  • Other valid driving permits (EU C1, C, C1+E or C+E).

Term of contract

This position is offered for a period of 6 months starting in Spring 2023, with a probation period of 1 month based on performance.




The position will carry a competitive salary, matching the academic and professional profile of the applicant, and excellent work conditions.


Basque Centre for Climate Change, Leioa, Spain.

As an HR Excellence awarded institution, BC3 is committed to conciliating research-academic requirements and family duties. BC3 is particularly concerned with creating equal opportunities for people independently of gender, culture, and race. Anyone with relevant qualifications is therefore strongly encouraged to apply for the position.

Application procedure:

Fill the form below and upload one PDF document in English or Spanish including:

(1) curriculum vitae (1-2 pages)

(2) motivation letter (300-600 words)

(3) contact details of two personal references.


15 April, 2023.

Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Teresa E. Gimeno ( noting in the subject of the message “PHLISCO Research Assistant”.

Please consider that only applications sent through the form included at the bottom of the BC3 web page will be considered (

Proyecto PHLISCO PID2019-105179GA-I00 del proyecto de investigación financiado por MCIN/ AEI /10.13039/501100011033

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María de Maeztu Excellence Unit 2023-2027 Ref. CEX2021-001201-M, funded by MCIN/AEI /10.13039/501100011033

©2008 BC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change.

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