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


Links between microbial and protozoan diversity, and 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 the interactions between soil microorganisms and protozoa and how this influence microbial biodiversity and selected ecosystem functions by using biomolecular methods (e.g. PLFA, MicroResp, extracellular enzyme assay) in combination with genetic diversity tools (e.g. 16S rDNA sequencing, qPCR). Soils, representing a range of climatic, physical/chemical factors and management regimes will be included. In this way we aim at a better understanding of how microorganisms and protozoa interact to support evaluating effects on ecosystem services provided by soils across the EU.

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 environmental soil microbiology and/or invertebrate zoology, preferentially combined with molecular biology.

Applicants to the PhD positions must have

  • A relevant Master’s degree in e.g. environmental microbiology or invertebrate zoology combined with molecular biology (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.
  • Experience with molecular tools.
  • 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.


Senior scientist PhD Anders Johansen, Department of Environmental Science, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark. E-mail: Phone +45 87 15 85 86

Application procedures:

The call will be open April 1. 2012 with application deadline May 1 2012. On April 1. 2012 Apply here. 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: "Links between microbial and protozoan diversity, and 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.