STEP Group

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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.


STEP is a relatively new research group at ETH comprised of 21 scientific, technical and administrative collaborators working together to meet our group's mission and serve our students. See more

Research activities

Click to learn more on a range of ongoing research activities carried out by STEP members.
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STEP offers several courses focusing on Vadose Zone Hydrology and Soil Physics as well as Spatial Statistics and other practical courses serving the curricula of D-USYS and D-BAUG. See more

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