PhD scholarship for a historian of science:

The Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, DLR Oberpfaffenhofen, in cooperation with the Department of Science Studies, Aarhus University,  and the Rachel Carson Center, Munich, invites applications for a  historian of science for the project:

– Exploring the atmosphere: Atmospheric science in times of large scale air pollution and global climate change?

Tasks and Goals:

Atmospheric and climate sciences have grown enormously in the post-war period. Problems like air pollution, ozone formation and climate change posed great challenges to the atmospheric sciences. New  developments in measurement technology, computer technology or  aircraft and satellite surveillance, on the other hand, created formidable opportunities for advancing the understanding of atmospheric processes.

The Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre (IPA) of Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen, close to Munich, is one of the largest German atmospheric research institutions with a staff of more than 100 persons. It has some outstanding features distinguishing it from many other atmospheric research institutions, notably the availability of modern research aircraft and the wide coverage of basic and applied research efforts spanning from instrument development and atmospheric measurements to weather and climate simulation.

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 2012 IPA supports a historical investigation of its development. The candidate has the task to investigate central scientific activities, in which the institute engaged since 1962. This includes a wide range of scientific problems from weather control, ozone formation, aerosols and cloud research to the impact of air traffic on atmosphere and climate and involved complex historical contexts characterized by strong political demands, industrial interests and public concerns.

Description of activities

· Historical investigation of published and archival sources

· Conduction of interviews with relevant persons

· Evaluation of the scientific and political historical contexts

· Writing of a dissertation in the history of science to be published as a historical monograph


· Finished master degree in the history of science or neighbouring disciplines

· Experience in the history of science

· Basic knowledge of atmospheric sciences or the willingness and ability to acquire the relevant knowledge

· Willingness and ability to communicate to and closely cooperate with atmospheric scientists

· Sufficient proficiency in German

Funding for a PhD student will be available for a period of three years. The project will be pursued as a cooperation of the Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, the Department of Science Studies, Aarhus University in Denmark, and the Rachel Carson Center for Environmental Studies in Munich, Germany. Work location will be partly Munich/Oberpfaffenhofen and Aarhus.

Participation in the Aarhus graduate school is possible. Starting salary will be according to half a position in the German standard salary scheme TV-ÖD E13. This equals approximately 1100 per months. For good candidates additional funding from Aarhus University may be negotiable.

Applications are invited from graduates in the history of science or neighbouring fields who plan to acquire a doctoral degree in the history of science. A background and some experience in the physical sciences would be a clear advantage. Applicants are asked to submit a statement of motivation (max. 400 words), a CV and a pdf of all degree documents. Applications should be sent to Hans Volkert or Matthias Heymann (see below). The deadline for applications is 8 February 2010.


Dr. Hans Volkert

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre

Email: [email protected]