Postdoctor focus on methylmercury formation in oxygen deficient coastal sea

Updated: 4 months ago

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest higher education institutions with over 37 000 students and about 4 700 employees. The University offers a diversity of high-quality education and world-leading research in several fields. And the groundbreaking discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was made here. At Umeå University, everything is close. Our cohesive campuses make it easy to meet, work together and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture.

The ongoing societal transformation and large green investments in northern Sweden create enormous opportunities and complex challenges. For Umeå University, conducting research about – and in the middle of – a society in transition is what it is all about. But also about delivering education to enable regions to expand quickly and sustainably. This is simply where the future is built.

The Department of Chemistry is hiring a biogeochemistry postdoc for a research project on the formation of methylmercury in oxygen deficient coastal seas. The employment is full-time for two years with starting date by agreement. 

Project description and working tasks 
You will be part of a team studying processes for the formation of methylmercury in oxygen deficient coastal environments with a focus on how chemical speciation of mercury, molecular composition of organic matter and microbial community composition control this process.

Mercury accumulates in aquatic biota as neurotoxic methylmercury and is of concern for global public health. Oxygen deficiency is spreading in coastal seas and the global ocean which could increase methylmercury formation by anaerobic microorganisms and thereby increase methylmercury exposure to marine food webs. Our understanding of the mechanisms and drivers for methylmercury formation under such scenarios is however insufficient, hindering quantitative predictions and risk management.

Together with the research team, you will plan and carry out field samplings in brackish (The Baltic Sea) and marine (Norwegian fjords) coastal environments. You will further carry out incubation experiments with enriched isotope tracers, determine mercury and methylmercury concentrations, assess the chemical speciation of mercury and characterize organic matter composition. Other members of the project team will join the cruises and collect parallel samples for metagenomics and metatranscriptomics analyses. You will in collaboration with the team be responsible for writing scientific publications and presentations of results at seminars / conferences. 

The postdoctoral project is funded by grants from the Swedish research council Formas ( ). The project will be led by Prof. Erik Björn ( ) and carried out by an international team of researchers in biogeochemistry and environmental microbiology. 

Required qualifications:
To qualify for this postdoctoral position candidates should have a doctorate degree, or a foreign qualification deemed to be the equivalent of a doctorate degree, in biogeochemistry, analytical chemistry, environmental microbiology, oceanography, environmental sciences or an equivalent subject area. Your doctorate degree should preferably have a focus on mercury biogeochemistry. Priority should be given to candidates who have completed their doctoral degree no more than three years before the closing date of the application. A candidate who has completed their degree prior to this may be considered if special circumstances exist. Special circumstances include absence due to illness, parental leave or clinical practice, appointments of trust in trade unions or similar circumstances. 

You have experience of and an interest in experimental research. You should have a good ability to take initiative and collaborate and be flexible to changes within the project. In your work, you should have a focus on high quality and a good ability to solve problems analytically. A very good knowledge in written and spoken English is required. Experience of field sampling, work with natural water samples, experiments with enriched isotope tracers, environmental analyses with MS techniques and GC-ICPMS techniques are meritorious. 

A complete application must contain
-         Personal letter of a maximum of two A4 pages describing your qualifications, research interests, why you are applying for the position and how your research experiences fit with the announced position,
-         CV and list of publications,
-         Certified copy of doctoral certificate,
-         Certified copies of other relevant diplomas, academic course certificates and / or grades,
-         If possible, electronic links to doctoral thesis and a maximum of 5 relevant publications (please do not attach pdf-files of theses or publications),
-         Contact details for two reference persons,
-         Other documents that you want to invoke.

The application must be written in English or Swedish. The application is submitted through our electronic recruitment system. Documents sent electronically must be in Word or PDF format. Last day to apply is 8th of June 2023.

Further information is provided by Prof. Erik Björn, .

Department of Chemistry
The Department of Chemistry is the largest department within the Faculty of Science and Technology and has about 200 employees, of which about 40 are postdocs, and with a strong and expanding research. Three major research areas, Biological Chemistry, Environmental and Biogeochemistry and Technical Chemistry bring together the department's research and education in chemistry. We are also a strong partner within the KBC, Chemical-Biological Centre, at Umeå University. You will work in a research environment that offers a strong focus and depth in biogeochemistry and microbiology, but also a wide range of expertise and research infrastructure within the KBC environment. Furthermore, the postdoc communities both at Umeå University ( ) and internationally within mercury research ( are highly active and contribute to a vibrant research environment and network.

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