PhD Fellowship on Ancient DNA and Palaeoecology of Arctic Marine Mammals

University of Copenhagen


PhD Fellowship on Ancient DNA and Palaeoecology of Arctic Marine Mammals

We are looking for a highly motivated and dynamic candidate to fill a 3-year PhD studentship to work on ancient DNA of Arctic marine mammals. The project will be based at GLOBE Institute, University of Copenhagen, in the Molecular Ecology and Global Climate Change group led by Associate Professor Eline Lorenzen. The project is fully funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF – Sapere Aude Research Leader programme).

Our group and research

Research in the Lorenzen group operates at the intersection of several disciplines in evolutionary ecology: population genomics, molecular ecology, ancient DNA, palaeoecology. The group applies cutting-edge laboratory and computational genomic methodologies to investigate past and present population dynamics of large mammal populations in the wild, in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The findings are integrated with insights from other research fields within the Earth and Life sciences to understand species and community dynamics across time and space.
The interdisciplinary nature of the research means that the work is highly collaborative.
The group is part of the GLOBE Institute, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, which is a world-leading research hub within ancient DNA research.

Project description

The Arctic is one of Earth’s most fragile ecosystems, and the scale of change taking place in the Arctic marine environment due to rises in temperature and loss of sea ice cover is overwhelming. The PhD fellowship will integrate palaeogenomics, palaeoecology, and palaeoclimatology to elucidate how climatic perturbations have affected the ranges and abundances of Arctic marine mammal species in the past.

The PhD project aims to retrieve ancient mammalian DNA from marine sediments and subfossil remains of Arctic marine mammal species to document their occurrence and diversity throughout the Late Pleistocene/Holocene. The DNA data will be combined with other proxy data on the timing and magnitude of changes in the abundance and species composition of organisms at the base of the food web (e.g. phytoplankton, sea ice algae, zooplankton), to investigate how past patterns of climatic shifts have impacted species, with the ultimate goal of improving our understanding of how these species might fare in the near future of increased global warming
under different future scenarios of climate change.

The PhD fellow will be supervised by Associate Professor Eline Lorenzen and co-advised by Senior Researcher Sofia Ribeiro at the Department of Glaciology and Climate, Past Climate and Environments Research Group, Geological Survey of Greenland and Denmark (GEUS) also in Copenhagen.

Principal supervisor: 

Associate Professor Eline Lorenzen, GLOBE Institute,, +45 26 70 10 24

Start:                1st September 2021, or as soon as possible thereafter

Duration:         3 years as a PhD student

Job description

Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research team
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants

Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. evolutionary genomics and ancient DNA. In this regard they must have demonstrable expertise with the generation of NGS based datasets, using for example Illumina technologies. They must also have documented prior experience in analyzing NGS data, using server-based software. Example analyses are using such data to undertake population and comparative genomic analyses.

Proficiency in English is required and excellent organization and communication skills are important. A positive attitude and motivation to actively contribute to a dynamic work environment are highly valued.

Other criteria of relevance are:

  • The final assessment of their MSc thesis
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience, including in genomics data generation and analysis
  • Other professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in evolutionary biology and population genomics
  • Language skills.

Place of employment

The place of employment is at GLOBE Institute, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include laboratories for the preparation of genomic-scale datasets from modern and historic materials, as well as computational servers for the analysis of such data.

Terms of employment

The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.
It is conditioned upon the applicant’s success­ful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins at 27,568 DKK (approx. 3,675 EUR) (April 2021-level) plus pension.


For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.
General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure

Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)

2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

3. Master of Science diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do

4. Publication list (if possible)

Application deadline: Sunday 9th May 2021, 23.59pm CET

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 the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.
Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You can read about the recruitment process at

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all 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: 09-05-2021
Employment start: 01-09-2021
Department/Location: GLOBE Institute

In your application, please refer to


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