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The STEP Group

The Soil and Terrestrial Environmental Physics (STEP) research group endeavours to generate new knowledge and provide scientific bases for understanding, quantifying and predicting key processes taking place in soils and in other interlinked terrestrial compartments of the biosphere. STEP focuses on establishing links across disciplinary boundaries required for addressing complex issues that lie at interfaces between the physical environment and biological activity (microbial activity, plant function), or interfacial processes controlling mass and energy exchange between terrestrial surfaces and the atmosphere. We pursue fundamental approaches to problem solving that combine theory with experiments and emphasize quantitative and measurable solutions. We at STEP are committed to excellence and highest ethical conduct in our endeavors, and strive to maintain a stimulating and rewarding educational and research environment.

As members of the Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics and the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETHZ our research and education is aimed at fostering meaningful links between resource managers, educators and environmental policy makers to better address contemporary challenges related to changing patterns in climate, population, and natural resources use and availability.

Latest publications

Individual-Based Model of Microbial Life on Hydrated Rough Soil Surfaces.
Minsu Kim, and Dani Or
PLoS one, (2016)
DOI  E-Citations

Bacterial flagellar motility on hydrated rough surfaces controlled by aqueous film thickness and connectedness.
Robin Tecon, and Dani Or
Scientific Reports, 6 (2016)
DOI  E-Citations

Generalized complementary relationship between actual and potential evaporation defined by a reference surface temperature
Milad Aminzadeh, Michael L. Roderick, and Dani Or
Water Resources Research, 51.12 (2015)DOI  E-Citations

Latest News


International Exploratory Workshop

on “Quantifying the role of biophysical processes in soil structure dynamics”, 14th – 16th April, Zurich (Switzerland) Read more 


Prof. Dani Or's talk at CCES Conference 2016

Scientific bases for building early warning systems Read more 


Benedict Borer won the ISME poster award

Benedict Borer received the best poster award at the  Swiss Microbial Ecology 2015 Conference. Read more 


Hannah Kleyer received the best poster award

Hannah Kleyer received the best poster award at the international conference on "Microbial Eco-Genomics in Agriculture - Gut, Plant and Soil Microbiomes" May 18-21, 2015, Israel. We at STEP congratulate Hannah for her outstanding achievement!    Read more 


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