PhD Fellowship in Geomicrobiology

University of Copenhagen


PhD Fellowship in Geomicrobiology

Applications are welcome for a three-year PhD position at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN) at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH). The position is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark for research on “The role of marine fungi in coastal carbon cycling and storage: mechanisms and implications for plastic in the estuarine ecosystem.”

Start date is expected to be February 2024.

The project Threats to coastal ecosystem health by widespread pollutants, such as plastic, are compounded by climate-related strains on the carbon cycle. Besides strategies to reduce plastic use, great effort is applied to unravel plastic biodegradation and to develop sustainable polymer alternatives, e.g., biodegradable plastics. Fungi are universal degraders of carbon compounds and are found on aquatic plastic litter. The mechanisms by which they degrade natural and synthetic carbon compounds are central to development of biotech-based plastic waste management and estimations of plastic´s longevity in natural environments, but our knowledge of their role in pollutant degradation remains nascent. Recent studies show that sediments are a major sink for plastic debris, and that coastal processes retain plastics in estuaries and wetlands. Unraveling the mechanisms behind fungal interaction with plastic would not only inform our understanding of these organisms in the carbon cycle, but would also deliver information on new species and enzymatic pathways of pollutant biodegradation in near shore ecosystems.

This study explores the mechanisms by which aquatic fungi capture carbon, the pathways by which they degrade carbon compounds, and the role they play to mediate transport and storage of carbon in water, sediment and the rooting zone of marine plants. To this end, we will combine advanced microscopy methods with microbiological, geochemical and mineralogical approaches in the laboratory and field.

Who are we looking for? As part of their work, the candidate will isolate marine fungi from Danish estuaries for cultivation, apply cutting-edge omics approaches to gain insight to community composition and function, and use biogeochemical, imaging and isotopic approaches to track storage, sequestration and release of carbon into the system. They will work in the field and in the laboratory. 
As such, the selected candidate will have a strong affinity for and experience in mycology, geomicrobiology, marine microbiology, microbial ecpology and/or biogeochemistry, and will have completed their MSc in a relevant discipline. Practical skills in microbial culturing techniques, geochemical analyses, microscopy and/or interfacial geochemical methods are highly desirable. The PhD Fellow will join a team and will work closely with both lab members and collaborators, meaning they should have an aptitude and passion for laboratory work. Creativity, curiosity, independent thinking, good communication skills in English, and the ability to work in a team are all vital qualities.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the daily management of their research project in coordination with the supervisor and other members of the group. They may be involved in the training and co-supervision of staff members/students and the position may include performance of additional duties such as teaching and outreach. 

Our group and research
The PhD research will be carried out in the Geomicrobiology & Sediment Biogeochemistry Lab established within the Sedimentary Systems Group (SedSys) in the section of Geology at IGN. The selected candidate will be integrated into a team of Postdocs, PhDs, MScs and project students working on various aspects of microbe-plastic interactions and geomicrobiological processes in Earth evolution. The project will be in close collaboration with researchers at the Globe Institute (UCPH), TU Berlin, IGN-Geography, and the University of Turin. For more information, please refer to: and

Principal supervisor: Associate Professor Nicole Posth, Department of Geosciences & Natural Resource Management, E-mail: 

The PhD programme 
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 as outlined above. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database

Terms of employment in the regular programme 
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. 

The terms of employment and salary are in accordance to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure. 

Responsibilities and tasks in the PhD programme
•    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 on the basis of your project

We are looking for the following qualifications:
•    Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
•    Relevant publications
•    Relevant work experience
•    Other relevant professional activities
•    Curious mind-set with a strong interest in fate of plastic as an environmental pollutant
•    Strong English language skills

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

Please include:  
1.    Motivation letter of application to the project (max. one page)
2.    Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position 
3.    Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or 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. 
4.    Publication list (if possible)
5.    Reference letters (if available)

Application deadline: 
The deadline for applications is 20 September 2023, 23:59 GMT +2. 

We reserve the right to not consider material received after the deadline, and to not consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

Application procedure
After the deadline for submission has passed, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified after this phase, whether your application will be passed on for assessment. 
The assessor will determine the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements and conclude whether each applicant is qualified. The applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read more about the recruitment process at 

Select candidates will then be invited for interviews. 

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:

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


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 20-09-2023
Employment start: 01-02-2024
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Institut for Geovidenskab og Naturforvaltning

In your application, please refer to


amsterdam uni

antwerp uni

cambridge uni

florida uni

harvard uni

hiroshima uni

new south wales uni

oslo uni

purdue uni

ryerson uni

shanghai jiao tong uni

stockholm uni