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PhD fellowship in climate warming responses of Sphagnum functionality and carbon balance

Københavns Universitet (KU)

The Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN) invites applicants for a fully funded PhD fellowship to investigate the effects of climate warming on Sphagnum functionality and carbon balance. The position is a part of the project “OxyMiST”, funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. OxyMiST is a joint international research effort investigating “Oxygen Constraints on Microbial Secretomes during Plant Cell Wall Turnover” (OxyMiST).

Start date is expected to be 1 January 2025, or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project
This interdisciplinary research project OxyMiST aims to establish how oxygen contributes to whole plant cell wall degradation by microbial secretomes by combining knowledge from biotechnology and ecology. Specifically, we investigate the relative importance of substrate recalcitrance, environment, and microbial communities in the decay processes of the plant cell wall. These insights will have consequences for developing biotechnology relating to biofuel production and for our understanding of C storage in nature.

This PhD project will focus on climate warming responses of Sphagnum moss and the consequences for ecosystem functioning and input and output of C from ecosystems. Sphagnum mires are natural and efficient carbon stores, but we lack understanding about the stability of this carbon under changing and especially warmer climate. Techniques involved in the project include field-based automatic CO2 flux measurement, microscopy, laboratory incubation, chemical characterization of Sphagnum and in situ enzyme characterization. The PhD project is highly collaborative with opportunities for research exchange at INRAe in Marseille, France, and at Cambridge University, UK. The research questions of the PhD project build on recent advancement of our understanding of the Sphagnum cell wall composition and on field-based evidence of Sphagnum climate warming responses. Ultimately, the PhD project aims to uncover how Sphagnum will function as a C sequestrator in a future warmer climate.

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for an enthusiastic and ambitious candidate with a MSc degree in biology, ecology, biogeoscience or similar fields obtained before the initiation of the PhD position. Applicants should have a background in plant biology, physiology or ecology, or in biogeochemistry, with an interest in microbial processes. Experience with field work, CO2 flux measurement, microbial ecology, DNA-based tools or other microbiological techniques and good data handling and statistical analysis skills are assets. The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant.

The assessment of your qualifications will also be on relevant work experience, publications, or other relevant professional activities. The successful applicant is expected to have obtained outstanding grades during the MSc studies.

Key criteria for the assessment of candidates:

  • A master’s degree in biology, ecology, biogeochemistry or similar.
  • Willingness to be away for fieldwork in subarctic Sweden for extended periods (weeks) during summertime.
  • Good problem-solving skills and technical flair and interest.
  • Good cooperation skills and networking capacity.
  • Good English language skills both written and spoken.

Our group and research - and what do we offer?
The PhD candidate will carry out research in a long-term climate warming experiment in Northern Sweden (close to Abisko Scientific Research Station ) and in the experimental facilities at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. We are located at the Frederiksberg Campus in Rolighedsvej 23, Frederiksberg C.

The PhD candidate will be a part of an interdisciplinary department and join two diverse research groups, namely the ‘Biogeochemistry’ and ‘Biopolymers and redox enzymes’ groups. The research groups have several PhD students and Postdoctoral researchers. We have access to well-equipped laboratories and experimental facilities needed for this project and the supervisors are experienced with remote fieldwork in arctic conditions. The OxyMiST project includes two partner institutions, Cambridge University (UK) and INRAE Marseille (France). The successful applicant will thus join a vibrant international research environment. ign.ku.dk/english/oxymist/

The supervisors for the project are Associate Professor Klaus Steenberg Larsen, [email protected] and Assistant Professor Signe Lett, [email protected]

The PhD programme
A three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree.

Qualifications needed for the regular programme
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g., biology, microbiology, ecology, or molecular biology. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database

Terms of employment
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis based on your project

Application and Assessment Procedure
Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include:

    • Cover letter stating the motivation for your application (max. one page)
    • Curriculum vitae including information about your education, work experience (if possible), language skills and other skills relevant for the position.
    • Original diplomas for Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
    • Publication list (if possible)
    • Reference letters (if available)
    Application deadline
    The deadline for applications is 11 August 2024, 23:59 GMT +2.
    We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

    The further process
    After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

    The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above-mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/

    Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in week 37.

    For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

    General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:www.science.ku.dk/phd/

    The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position.

    Københavns Universitet giver sine knap 10.000 medarbejdere muligheder for at udnytte deres talent fuldt ud i et ambitiøst, uformelt miljø. Vi sikrer traditionsrige og moderne rammer om uddannelser og fri forskning på højt internationalt niveau. Vi søger svar og løsninger på fælles problemer og gør ny viden tilgængelig og nyttig for andre.

    Ansøgningsfrist: 11-08-2024

    Ansættelsesdato: 01-01-2025

    Arbejdstid: Fuldtid

    Afdeling/Sted: Institut for Geovidenskab og Naturforvaltning

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