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Apply by: 2024-05-31

PhD scholarship in aquatic ecology

Published 2024-04-23

About the position

Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant three-year PhD–position in aquatic ecology with focus on the ecology of mixotrophic phytoplankton.

In recent decades, Gonyostomum semen has transitioned from being a rare species found only in bog ponds to becoming one of the most widespread algae in Northern and Eastern Europe. When G. semen becomes dominant in a lake, the amount of phytoplankton increases significantly, sometimes by an order of magnitude. This often occurs in lakes where other phytoplankton species are suppressed due to low concentrations of inorganic nutrients.

The successful candidate will investigate how G. semen obtains nutrients from both allochthonous and autochthonous dissolved organic matter (DOM). This will involve analyzing different fractions of DOM, studying enzyme activity, and determining the relative importance of organic nutrients for the metabolism of G. semen using stable isotopes and labeled DOM. The project will include working with algal cultures in the laboratory and conducting fieldwork in lakes where G. semen is dominant. This research is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Research and Higher Education, with the intended start date being November 2024.

The application for a PhD position at MINA is also an application for admission to the MINA PhD programme. Documentation that ensures that the admission requirements are met must be uploaded as an attachment to your application, as described below.

Main tasks

The successful candidate will:

  • establish assays for enzymes that allow G. semen to extract N and P from relevant fractions of DOM
  • use these assays to screen existing G. semen cultures for ecto- and exoenzymes and study their regulation/modulation by environmental factors
  • monitor the activity of these enzymes in relation to phytoplankton composition, DOM composition, and various other abiotic and biotic factors in the field
  • assess the dependency of G. semen on organic nutrients, both under laboratory and field conditions
  • write and publish scientific articles

The successful candidate is expected to have a PhD education plan approved by MINA during the first months of the appointment and to complete a PhD within the PhD scholarship period.



The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year master’s degree. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background relevant to the position and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description.

The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject.

Required Academic qualifications

  • Master degree in aquatic (freshwater or marine) ecology, limnology, microbial ecology or similar with focus on microorganisms in water
  • Master thesis with focus on ecology of phytoplankton or other aquatic microorganisms or master thesis with focus on DOM composition or dynamics in freshwater.

The following experiences and skills will be emphasized:

  • Experience in culturing of phytoplankton under laboratory conditions or methods for field studies on phytoplankton ecology
  • Characterization of DOM (university course or practical experience)
  • Work at enzyme level (university course or practical experience)
  • Field work in aquatic environments
  • Experience or courses in R, Python, MATLAB or similar platforms

You need to:

  • have a documented interest in aquatic ecology
  • have the ability to work scientifically, both in a team and independently
  • have good writing and oral communication skills, particularly in English
  • Driving license that is valid in Norway

Remuneration and further information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD. Fellow. PhD. Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 532 200) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Thomas Rohrlack

E-mail: Thomas.Rohrlack@nmbu.no; phone +47 94039115

Information for PhD applicants and Information to applicants



To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline: 31.05.2024

Your CV must be entered in JobbNorge's CV form and not just included as an attachment. This is to be able to comply with the regulations of §15 of the Public Administration Act.

In the application, the candidate must confirm that information and documentation (in the form of attachments) submitted via the job application can also be used by NMBU in a possible admission process.

Applicants invited for an interview are expected to present original diplomas and certificates.

The following documents must be attached to the application:

  • Motivation letter (maximum 1 page)
  • Complete CV 
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and certificates. (i.e. Diploma, transcript. Diploma supplement for both bachelor and master). Diplomas, transcripts and diploma supplements that are not in Norwegian or English must be uploaded in the original language. An English translation of these documents must also be attached.
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement, or a similar document, which describes in detail the study program and grading system.
  • Documentation of proficiency in written and oral English in accordance with NMBU PhD regulation section 5-2 (3)
  • Names and contact details for two references

Additional relevant documentation of professional knowledge (for example, list of scientific works). If it is difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution for publications with multiple authors, a short description of the applicant’s contribution must be included.

About The Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management

The Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA) works with nature and the environment, sustainable use of natural resources, biological and geological processes.

MINA’s employees undertake teaching, research and dissemination within the fields of geology, hydrology and limnology, soil science, environmental chemistry, forestry, ecology, natural resource management, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism.

Our vision is to be a key actor in knowledge production and dissemination, and our goal is to deliver research of high, international quality, and varied and excellent teaching. The faculty’s employees are significant participants within their respective fields of expertise, both nationally and internationally. The faculty is dominated by a vital research culture and high levels of scientific production.

The faculty has about 200 employees, 90 PhD students and 650 students.

Read more about MINA here.

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The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

NMBU will contribute to securing the future of life through outstanding research, education, communication and innovation. We have the country's most satisfied university students, who receive research-based education in a unique student environment. Our graduates gain a high level of competence in interdisciplinary collaboration and are popular in the labor market. NMBU has internationally leading research environments in several subjects. Together with our partners in society and business, we contribute to solving some of the biggest societal challenges of our time.

We focus on innovation, communication and entrepreneurship because we believe these challenges are best solved with joint efforts. We believe that a good working environment is characterized by diversity.If necessary, workplace adaptations will be made for persons with disabilities. More information about NMBU is available at www.nmbu.no/en