Student Research Projects


The Ecotox Centre offers students the possibility of serving internships or working on bachelor or master projects on practice-relevant topics from applied ecotoxicology for a duration of 3 to 6 months. Four jobs are available in Dübendorf and Lausanne for these projects. Currently possible topics are listed below. If you are interested, please send the following information and documents to Brigitte Bracken.

  • Date and duration
  • Preferred topic
  • CV
  • References

Possible Topics

Internship or civil service assignment: Online biomonitoring
The Toxmate is a novel biomonitor whose suitability for monitoring wastewater quality is to be evaluated. Based on the concept of biological monitoring, the system works by recording and evaluating the swimming movements of test organisms such as amphipods over a longer period of time using a camera. The wastewater whose quality is to be monitored is continuously passed through test chambers containing the test organisms.
In this context, experiments with the Toxmate will be supervised and evaluated in the pilot wastewater treatment plant at Eawag/Dübendorf. The aim is to carry out and evaluate a series of experiments to investigate the reaction of the organisms after the introduction of chemicals into the system. Both field work (catching the organisms) and lab work (preparing the substances), data evaluation on the PC and practical variation are on the programme.
The position is scheduled to start in September 2021 for 6 months and requires independence, previous biological/ecological knowledge and experience in lab and possibly field work.
Project leader: Ali Kizgin (

Bachelor Project: Technical aspects of water analysis
At the Ecotox Centre several bioanalytical methods for the monitoring of water quality are applied. In these bioassays, either native water samples (without sample preparation) or concentrated water samples are tested for their toxicity. To improve the analysis, the following questions should be examined:
What is the best extraction method? Can we accumulate all toxic substances in a water sample with the same mechanism of action?
How long can chemical substances be detected in water samples?
Responsible for the project: Etiënne Vermeirssen (

Optimisation and Evaluation of the Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition Test
Environmental toxins that inhibit the enzyme acetycholinesterase cause the accumulation of the transmitter substance acetylcholine in organisms. This leads to permanent muscle and nerve excitation and, consequently, to damage of the organisms. Inhibition of the enzyme is determined after exposure to the substances or environmental samples to be analysed. This inhibition can be measured in both entire organisms and the isolated enzyme.
It has not been possible to date to determine in isolated enzyme measurements whether the enzyme is inhibited or destroyed (which may happen, for example, if the concentration of dissolved organic carbon is high). Therefore, the tests are intended to be optimised within the scope of a master thesis. A conceivable approach would be to introduce a viability parameter for the enzyme or test environmental samples on entire organisms (e.g. daphnids, fish embryos) and subsequently measure the enzyme inhibition.
Responsible for the project: Cornelia Kienle (


Brigitte Bracken
Brigitte Bracken Send mail Tel. +41 (0) 58 765 5562