International Atomic Energy Agency
Vacancy Notice No. 2012/131

Position and Grade: Soil Scientist (P-4)
Organizational Unit: Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory
Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section
Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture
Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications
Duty Station: Seibersdorf, Austria
Issue Date: 16 November 2012
Application Deadline: 28 December 2012
Type/Duration of Appointment: Fixed term, 3 years (subject to a probationary period of 1 year)

Organizational Setting

The Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications implements the IAEA's major programme on nuclear techniques for development and environmental protection (Major Programme 2). This major programme comprises individual programmes in food and agriculture, human health, water resources, environment and radiation technologies. These programmes are supported by laboratories in Seibersdorf, Monaco and Vienna. The major programme's objective is to enhance the capacity of Member States to meet basic human needs and to assess and manage marine and terrestrial environments through the use of nuclear and isotopic techniques in sustainable development programmes.

The Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture is located in the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications of the IAEA in Vienna. The Joint Division assists Member States of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and IAEA in using nuclear techniques and related technologies to improve food security, alleviate poverty and promote sustainable agriculture. It does so by coordinating and supporting applied research, providing technical and advisory services to Member State field projects as well as laboratory support and training, and collecting, analysing and disseminating information. The Joint Division consists of five sections, each with an associated laboratory, in the areas of: animal production and health; plant breeding and genetics; insect pest control; soil and water management and crop nutrition; and food and environmental protection. The associated laboratories are part of the FAO/IAEA Agriculture & Biotechnology Laboratories (ABL) located in Seibersdorf, 45 km southeast of Vienna.

The Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section and its Laboratory, assist Member States in developing improved soil and water management practices for sustainable intensification of agricultural production systems through applied and adaptive R&D activities, technology transfer and capacity building.

The Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory, through the application of nuclear techniques, focuses on the development of methodologies and cost-effective soil-water technology management packages to: (i) improve soil quality and fertility for crop nutrition and production; (ii) increase on-farm and area-wide nutrient and water use efficiency to combat water scarcity and prevent the inefficient use of applied fertilizers; and (iii) minimize the impacts of climate change on agricultural soil and water management.

Main purpose

As a member of a team led by the Laboratory Head, the Soil Scientist contributes to the results-based subprogramme relating to the development of improved soil conservation measures and improving soil fertility-soil quality for sustainable agriculture through the use of nuclear and related techniques.


The Soil Scientist is: (1) a technical officer and research coordinator, ensuring the efficient and effective development, implementation and dissemination of research, training, and scientific and technical knowledge, and assisting in the evaluation and implementation of technical cooperation projects for the IAEA and FAO in the area of land degradation, soil erosion and soil fertility-soil quality; (2) a technical expert, planning and conducting technical meetings and project review missions; (3) a facilitator, working with Member States to meet their national and regional agricultural development objectives, and; (4) liaison with relevant stakeholders on issues related to the transfer of sampling and analytical technologies to Member States.


The Soil Scientist engages with national counterparts in Member State institutions regarding project planning and implementation so as to ensure the effective transfer and sharing of technical information. He/she identifies opportunities for collaborating with appropriate UN organizations, particularly FAO, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and other international, regional and national institutions. The incumbent works closely with other land and water scientists within the subprogramme and with other appropriate IAEA Divisions to ensure the effective utilization of technical inputs to both subprogramme design and the implementation of laboratory and field-based activities.

Functions / Key Results Expected

Under the general guidance of the Head of the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Laboratory in Seibersdorf and the Head of the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division located at Headquarters:
  • Plan, supervise and conduct applied and adaptive research in support of coordinated research projects on the use of compound-specific stable isotopes (e.g. 13C in fatty acids) in combination with fallout radionuclides (e.g. 137Cs, 7Be and 210Pb) for improving soil conservation strategies at catchment level, and to report on the research results.
  • Participate in the development of new coordinated research projects in the area of soil conservation measures and soil fertility-quality management.
  • Ensure that analytical services and quality assurance for compound-specific stable isotopes and fallout radionuclides are carried out efficiently and effectively.
  • Plan, organize and conduct training courses and supervise the training of fellows, including the allocation of resources and technical support.
  • Provide technical input to programme planning, implementation and reporting, including input into the IAEA and FAO budget and programme of work.
  • Plan, implement, monitor and evaluate technical cooperation projects.
  • Develop novel initiatives and collaborate on relevant cross-cutting activities, such as the coordination of work with other international, regional and national organizations, including UN bodies.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Advanced understanding of agricultural production in developing countries and the global problems associated with soil erosion and sedimentation.
  • In-depth practical knowledge of the use and measurement of isotopic techniques such as fallout radionuclides and compound-specific stable isotopes to estimate soil redistribution in landscapes and identify hot-spots of land degradation.
  • Ability to formulate and undertake research projects on soil conservation and soil nutrient and carbon cycling at both field plot and catchment levels.
  • Ability to interact and work effectively in an interdisciplinary team of scientists involved in research on soil conservation, land use capability assessment, land management, crop husbandry, soil hydraulics and radioecology.
  • Practical skills in the training of scientists and the management of laboratory/field technicians.
  • Well-developed computer application skills including familiarity with geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and online geographic visualization tools.
  • Ability to take the initiative and elaborate research proposals as well as to propose new directions and approaches in support of Member States.
  • Ability to travel and conduct technical and research coordinated meetings and a highly-developed capacity to make effective oral presentations and produce well-written technical reports.
  • Ability to work effectively in and interact with a multicultural and multidisciplinary team, including soil scientists, agronomists, plant breeders, and scientific counterparts from FAO/IAEA Member States.

Education, Experience and Language Skills

  • PhD specializing in soil conservation at catchment level, preferably with a first degree in agricultural science or a closely related science.
  • Minimum of seven years of relevant experience in the areas of the development of soil conservation strategies at plot and catchment level, of which two should have been at the international level, preferably in developing countries.
  • Substantial experience (proven by publications in international peer-reviewed journals) in assessing soil erosion due to human activities or climate change, identifying hot-spots of land degradation and developing soil conservation strategies at catchment level, in tropical and subtropical agro-ecosystems, through the use of fallout radionuclides (137Cs, 7Be and 210Pb) and compound-specific stable isotopes (e.g. 13C in fatty acids).
  • Experience in soil erosion modelling at plot and catchment level an asset.
  • Experience in the use and design of on-line geographic visualization tools (mapping, database) an advantage.
  • Good understanding of behaviour of radionuclides in soils and plants (from plot to landscape level).
  • Experience in technology transfer through training events, workshops and seminar presentations.
  • Experience in the management of multidisciplinary projects and participation in international research networks.
  • Strong publication record in international peer-reviewed journals.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English. Working knowledge of another official IAEA language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) an advantage. Working knowledge of German an asset.


The IAEA offers an attractive remuneration package including a tax-free annual net base salary starting at US $67 483 (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance), a variable post adjustment which currently amounts to US $37 925*, dependency benefits, rental subsidy, education grant, relocation and repatriation expenses; 6 weeks' annual vacation, home leave, pension plan and health insurance.

How to apply to the IAEA

Complete an Online Application

* Subject to change without notice

Applications from qualified women and candidates from developing countries are encouraged

Applicants should be aware that IAEA staff members are international civil servants and may not accept instructions from any other authority. Staff members may be assigned to any location. The IAEA retains the discretion not to make any appointment to this vacancy, to make an appointment at a lower grade or with a different contract type, or to make an appointment with a modified job description or for shorter duration than indicated above. Testing may be part of the recruitment process.

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