Postdoc in soil molecular microbial ecology

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 03 Jan 2023

Applicants are invited for a 3 year postdoctoral position in soil molecular microbial ecology related to evaluation of environmental effects of biochar on the soil biome at the Department of Environmental Science

Expected start date and duration of employment
This is a 3–year position from 01.03.2023 or as soon possible thereafter.
Job description
You will be working on two projects: BioAdapt and SkyClean (ENVS part of 124 million DKK project on biochar ( ) studying effects of biochar on soil organisms, both directly and indirectly through physical and chemical effects on soil properties. Using DNA and RNA tools and enzymatic approaches you will be targeting soil fauna and especially soil microorganisms and their interactions as influenced by soil biochar amendment.

Besides ecotoxicological effects of different types of biochar on , soil microbial community function will be tested, long-term effects of biochar application on the soil microorganisms will be tested in mesocosm experiments at increasing biochar concentrations for up to one-year of incubation. Using Next Generation Sequencing, we will determine gene expression of particular relevance for biochar stability, potential biochar degradation and effects on the microbial community function. In collaboration with project partners, effects of biochar on soil microarthropods and microorganisms (bacteria, fungi and protists), as well as plant growth and GHG emission, will be assessed in both field, lysimeter and lab experiments.

In addition to these tasks, the postdoc will have amble opportunities to define and study specific research themes within the area in collaboration with the research group.

Your profile

We are searching for a highly motivated candidate who has

  • A PhD in environmental microbiology, agronomy, environmental science, molecular biology or similar
  • Research experience in the areas of soil environmental molecular microbial ecology

Specifically, the preferred candidate has scientific experience in
  • Soil microbial ecology
  • Microbial interactions with plants, protists, micro- and macrofauna
  • Biomolecular methodology with a focus on DNA and RNA techniques to understand biota interactions, activities and diversity
  • Effects of climate mitigations actions and measures such as biochar on soil quality

Furthermore, we will prefer a candidate who has:
  • Research experience within the area and experience with planning and conducting field and lab work
  • Collaborative skills within an interdisciplinary and international academic environment
  • Curiosity and interest in pursuing a scientific career
  • An emerging productive publication record in international peer-reviewed ISI journals
  • Experience with international collaboration
  • Interest and experience in attracting external national or international research funding

We expect you to be highly motivated, curious, and enthusiastic about research as you will be an important part of the research environment and contribute to supervision of students and the social working environment. We also expect that you will publish your research results in high-impact scientific journals.
The Department of Environmental Science
The Department of Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary department under the Faculty of Technical Sciences at Aarhus University. The expertise ranges from physics, chemistry, microbiology and mathematical modelling to social science, geography, economics and policy analysis. Both basic and applied research is conducted on some of the major challenges facing society, such as pollution and pollution-control mechanisms, management of land, soil, water, air and biodiversity, protection of ecosystem services, climate change, and energy systems. Advisory services within these areas are offered to ministries and other stakeholders. Currently, about 150 staff and PhD-students are working at the department. Further information can be found at .

The postdoc will be affiliated with the Section of Environmental Microbiology.
Expertise within the Section of Environmental Microbiology includes:

  • Interactions of microorganisms in agricultural soil ecosystems and effects of climate mitigation measures
  • Environmental risk analyses, including climate change mitigation measures
  • Environmental DNA for species detection and impact analysis on invertebrates, fish, plants and microorganisms
  • Ecology of viruses associated with fungi and protists
  • Environmental risk analysis of microorganisms and sustainable green biotechnology
  • Risk assessment of GMOs
  • Microbial degradation of organic micro pollutants in the environment
  • Microbial activity in industrial settings – including wastewater treatment, biogas production and water-purification units
  • Aero-microbiology
  • Microbial ecology of the Greenlandic cryosphere
  • Cold-enzyme technology including cultivation of Greenlandic microorganisms and screening for valuable enzyme producers
  • Sequencing and Bioinformatics Center comprising several sequencing platforms and servers for DNA and RNA sequencing with great focus on TotalRNA metatranscriptomics

The research activities involve studies at the level of individual species – for example, the presence and activity of bacteria, fungi and protists in the environment (soil, water, air and food) and their interactions. Similarly, different forms of diversity (genetic and functional) are measured in entire microbial populations and used as indicators for habitat quality parameters.
The department offers:
  • a well-developed research infrastructure, laboratories and access to shared equipment
  • an exciting interdisciplinary environment with many national, international scientific and industrial collaborators
  • a research climate encouraging lively, open and critical discussion within and across different fields of research
  • a work environment with close working relationships, networking and social activities
  • a workplace characterised by professionalism, equality and a healthy work-life balance.

Place of work and area of employment

The place of work will be at Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark, and the area of employment is Aarhus University with related departments. The city of Roskilde ( ) is located approx. 30 km from Copenhagen. The area provides immediate access to a wealth of cultural and recreational pursuits.

International candidates may find information concerning living and working in Denmark at .

Contact information
For further information, please contact: Professor Anne Winding, +45 30254675, , or Scientist Rumakanta Sapkota, +45 31406965, .
Applications must be received no later than 03.01.2023.
Application procedure
Shortlisting is used. This means that after the deadline for applications – and with the assistance from the assessment committee chairman, and the appointment committee if necessary, – the head of department selects the candidates to be evaluated. All applicants will be notified whether or not their applications have been sent to an expert assessment committee for evaluation. The selected applicants will be informed about the composition of the committee, and each applicant is given the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that concerns him/her self. Once the recruitment process is completed a final letter of rejection is sent to the deselected applicants.
Letter of reference
If you want a referee to upload a letter of reference on your behalf, please state the referee’s contact information when you submit your application. We strongly recommend that you make an agreement with the person in question before you enter the referee’s contact information, and that you ensure that the referee has enough time to write the letter of reference before the application deadline.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to ensure that letters of reference received after the application deadline will be taken into consideration.

Formalities and salary range
Technical Sciences refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation .

The application must be in English and include a curriculum vitae, degree certificate, a complete list of publications, a statement of future research plans and information about research activities, teaching portfolio and verified information on previous teaching experience (if any). Guidelines for applicants can be found here.

Appointment shall be in accordance with the collective labour agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities .

Salary depends on seniority as agreed between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and the Confederation of Professional Associations.

Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants.

Research activities will be evaluated in relation to actual research time. Thus, we encourage applicants to specify periods of leave without research activities, in order to be able to subtract these periods from the span of the scientific career during the evaluation of scientific productivity.

Aarhus University offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including relocation service and career counselling to expat partners. Read more here . Please find more information about entering and working in Denmark here .

Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here .

The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University’s website.

Aarhus University

Aarhus University is an academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 38,000 students (FTEs) and 8,000 employees, and has an annual revenues of EUR 885 million. Learn more at

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