ESR 12 advert

Applications are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at the Graduate School of Science and Technology.


Development and validation of protozoan genetic diversity of importance for soil ecosystem functions

Research area and project description:

Soil provides important ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling and plant production, degradation of wastes and contaminants, resilience, soil suppressiveness, and supports biodiversity. Microorganisms and protozoa are major players in providing these ecosystem services. Soils are a very species-rich environment and host a huge diversity of microorganisms and protozoa of which our understanding is limited. Our lack of knowledge is related to: the small size of the soil-borne organisms; dynamic phylogeny, their immense diversity; the difficulty in isolating them; their at times low activity and the great habitat heterogeneity in time and space. However, progress in the molecular characterization of soil biodiversity offers exciting prospect of exploring this complexity and improving understanding of its functioning.

In this project we will study soil protozoa and the predator-prey interactions of protozoa and bacteria. The phylogeny of the polyphyletic protozoan group is not completely unravelled but the use of molecular tools has recently made significant progress possible. Existing and new molecular diversity tools will be developed, optimized and tested in soil. Further, by studying predator-prey interactions of protozoa and bacteria in controlled communities with increasing complexity and combining it with protozoan and microbial community analysis, the significance of predator-prey interactions between protozoa and bacteria will be evaluated with emphasis on potential disease regulation. Soils, representing a range of climatic, physical/chemical factors and management regimes across the EU will be included. In this way we aim at a deeper understanding of biodiversity of soil protozoa, their interaction with soil microbes and the importance for soil ecosystem functions.

The position is funded for 3 years through a recently established “Trainbiodiverse” FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network. The aim of this project is to monitor, evaluate and improve the quality of biodiversity in European soils and to provide critical information to political, administrative and regulative bodies to enhance policy making for European ecosystem services and agricultural production. Further information can be found at Two PhD projects will be hosted simultaneously at the same laboratory at Aarhus University where also the scientifically related FP7 ENV project “EcoFINDERS” ( currently has activities. This will ensure a flourishing scientific environment and platform for widespread collaboration with EU partners.

Qualifications and specific competences:

We are looking for an expert in molecular biology combined with either environmental invertebrate zoology and/or microbiology.

Applicants to the PhD positions must have

  • A relevant Master’s degree in e.g. environmental molecular biology combined with microbiology or invertebrate zoology (or graduate in the very near future – documentation for final thesis and date of examination must be enclosed in the application) or equivalent.
  • Interest and thorough understand of soil biology and soil ecosystem services.
  • Documented experience with molecular tools including Q-PCR.
  • Knowledge of bioinformation.
  • Fluency in English.
  • Ability to engage in teamwork within the group and our collaborators.


Recruiting is in accordance with the rules for Marie Curie Initial Training Networks. At the time of recruitment, it is a requirement that PhD candidates have not been awarded the doctorate degree and are in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers. Furthermore, at the time of selection by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account. Further information on recruitment can be found at

Place of Employment and Place of Work:

The place of employment is Aarhus University, and the place of work is Department of Environmental Science, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark.  

Terms of Employment

Terms of appointment and payment are in accordance with the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Federation of Professional Associations (AC). Moreover, the salary of the candidate will be in accordance with the rules and regulations laid down in the Marie Curie Grant Agreement (
Salary is expected to be DKK 25,000 to DKK 30,000 (approximately 3363 to 4035 Euro) plus contribution to the pension fund of 17.1 % of 85 % of the salary.


Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact:

Senior scientist PhD Anne Winding, Department of Environmental Science, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark. E-mail: Phone: +45 41 91 56 55.

Application procedures:

The call will be open April 1. 2012 with application deadline May 1 2012. On April 1. 2012 apply here. In the meantime, please contact Anne Winding ( for specific questions.

For the application on-line you must fill out the information regarding:

  • Personal information
  • Academic background
  • Admission
  • Financing (if any)
  • Study: In the dropdown menu you must choose the project: "Development and validation of protozoan genetic diversity of importance for soil ecosystem functions”
  • Source (how you found out about the call)
  • References (as a minimum 1 must be uploaded)
    Application material (pdf only, max 20 MB, no zip): Motivation, CV, Diploma and transcript of records, project description

Please be aware that you cannot save the application and continue working on it later. Therefore, you must have all relevant appendices, attachments, addresses for referees, etc. ready when you apply, as the entire application must be uploaded to the system in one go.

As a minimum you need to upload the application material:

  • one reference
  • curriculum vitae,
  • motivation (max. 1 page)
  • transcripts and diploma(s) in one merged file (Please enter your unweighted grade average calculated and based on your transcript’s grading scale, BSc and MSc separately)
  • project description (½-4 pages) For technical reasons, you must upload a project description. When - as here - you apply for a specific project, please simply copy the project description above, and upload it as a PDF in the application

You cannot submit the application if one or several of these documents have not been uploaded.