Doctoral student to investigate Benthic iron cycling in fjord environments (4 years, f/m/x)

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 30 Jun 2022

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences is a world-class research institute with more than 250 scientists and scientific collaborators covering a wide range of disciplines from biology to geology, oceanography to taxonomy, and palaeontology to ecology. Research at RBINS is used to support national and international decision-makers, which enables our researchers to have a direct impact on society. The Ecosystems data processing and modelling unit (ECOMOD) within the Operational Directorate Natural Environment (OD Nature) ( ) is specialized in hydrodynamic and biogeochemical modeling, with a strong focus on coastal environments.

Ghent University is one of the most important educational and research institutions in the Low Countries. More than 9000 employees and 41000 students live up to the motto “Dare to Think” every day. Ghent University's mission statement is characterised by qualitative education, internationally renowned research, and a pluralistic social responsibility. The Marine Biology Research group ( ) as part of the Biology Department and Faculty of Sciences, has a long tradition in marine research with a focus on benthic ecosystems. Both aspects of biodiversity and the link to ecosystem functions and services, as well as the sustainable management of marine ecosystems and their biological resources, are key research areas.

The Ecosystems data processing and modelling unit at RBINS and the Marine Biology Research group at UGENT are looking for a full-time (100%)

Doctoral student to investigate Benthic iron cycling in fjord environments (4 years, f/m/x)

Iron availability limits marine productivity and controls the intensity of the biological carbon pump and oceanic CO2 uptake. Dissolved iron (dFe) is only present in trace concentrations in seawater because it is very insoluble in oxygenated seawater. The sources of dFe to the ocean thus regulate its availability for primary productivity. Glacial meltwaters represent an important source of iron to the ocean. A large fraction of glacial meltwaters transit through fjords before reaching the open ocean. Because of its low solubility, iron recycling from fjord sediments, and in particular the activity of the benthic communities, plays a critical role in modulating ice-to-ocean iron fluxes. However, the impact of benthic fauna on fjord iron cycling and ice-to-ocean fluxes remains largely unquantified.

Job description

This PhD project will target benthic iron cycling in fjord sediments, with particular attention to the role of benthic macrofauna communities. The successful candidate will participate in research cruises to Iceland and Greenland, collect and process sediment samples, and identify benthic communities. Iron minerals will be characterised through a series of laboratory extractions. The PhD student will be engaged in the interdisciplinary research project CANOE (‘Climate chANge impacts on carbon cycling and fOod wEbs in Arctic fjords’). This project aims to investigate the influence of glacial melt on biogeochemistry and food web structure and stability in Greenlandic fjords.

We seek a candidate with a background in marine science, biogeochemistry, biology, or related fields.

The selected candidate will be jointly supervised by Dr. Ulrike Braeckman (UGent) and Dr. Sebastiaan van de Velde (RBINS), will be affiliated with both RBINS and UGent and is expected to closely interact with all involved institutes.

Want to apply?

  • Applications should be sent by email to (subject: candidature CANOE-PhD) and should include a cover letter specifying the motivation to apply for the position (max. 2 pages), a short CV, including an abstract of the master thesis, a copy of the highest degree obtained and contact details of 2 references.
  • The deadline for the application is 30th June 2022 (by midnight CET).
  • We will perform a pre-selection and invite selected candidates for an interview. The selection committee will review the applications immediately after the application deadline. These interviews will take place by mid-July 2022 by videoconference. The planned start date is 1 September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.
  • For informal inquiries, please contact Dr. Sebastiaan van de Velde ( ) or Dr. Ulrike Braeckman ( ).

We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.

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