PhD Student - Department of Biology

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 13 Nov 2021

Last application date Nov 13, 2021 11:30

Department WE11 - Department of Biology

Contract Limited duration

Degree Master’s degree in Sciences: Biology, Bioscience Engineering, or Bioinformatics

Occupancy rate 100%

Vacancy type Research staff

Job description

The Laboratory of Protistology and Aquatic Ecology within the Department of Biology of Ghent University (UGent, Belgium) is recruiting a new PhD student. The PhD student will be engaged in the recently started project HabitAnt: ‘Past and future habitability in Antarctic lakes: succession, colonization, extinction, and survival in glacial refugia’, funded by BelSPO BRAIN-BE.

Coupled climate and Earth-system models predict increased temperatures and altered precipitation patterns in vast regions of Maritime and coastal Continental Antarctica. These changes will likely result in more extensive glacial melt and the expansion of ice-free areas, increasing connectivity between regions, and changes in their hydrology. These projected environmental changes are expected to cause biotic homogenization between regions. Recent studies demonstrated that terrestrial and lacustrine biota in the Antarctic are more globally distinct and biogeographically structured than previously believed, due to the long-term survival and diversification of taxa in isolated glacial refugia. Hence, it is to be expected that biotic homogenisation will significantly increase the risk of extinction of endemic species and the spread of invasive species.
The PhD student will use fossil DNA in selected lake sediments and develop molecular phylogenies of diatom focal taxa to better understand the evolution of present-day diversity of micro-eukaryote communities and species in Antarctic lakes. The student will study the dynamics of colonization, diversification, biological succession and extinction in response to well-documented past climate and environmental changes.

The job duties include:

  • Extraction of fossil DNA and the development of DNA libraries for high-throughput sequencing.
  • Development of multi-gene molecular phylogenies of focal diatom taxa.
  • Bioinformatics and statistical analysis of amplicon and shotgun metagenomics datasets.
  • Writing of scientific publications and presenting the results at international conferences.
  • Using and supplementing public Antarctic databases.

Ghent University is among the top global universities according to several international rankings. Furthermore, Ghent is a charming medieval Flemish town, filled with canals, and full of energy, history, and culture. We offer:

  • A full-time 4-year position as a PhD-student at UGENT (start autumn 2021).
  • A dynamic, challenging, and stimulating research environment.
  • High-quality training to develop hard and soft skills.
  • Opportunities to participate in sampling campaigns to Antarctica and international scientific conferences.
  • A competitive salary including a bicycle commuting reimbursement.

Job profile
  • You hold a Master’s degree in Sciences: Biology, Bioscience Engineering, or Bioinformatics. Holders of a PhD degree cannot apply.
  • You obtained excellent grades in your BSc and MSc degree.
  • You have practical experience in the application of DNA markers in environmental samples and bioinformatic analysis of high-throughput sequencing datasets.
  • You are capable of developing, planning and organizing your own research work and meeting deadlines imposed by the project
  • You have programming skills in bash or another scripting language, and R.
  • You have good communication and writing skills and have an excellent knowledge of written and spoken English.
  • You are self-critical, you work with rigor and attention for detail, and you work accurately in the wet lab.
  • You combine being a team player with a strong sense of autonomy and responsibility.
  • You are willing to participate in sampling campaigns and apply for additional funding when eligible.
  • Experience with molecular phylogenetics/phylogenomics, handling cell cultures of microalgae, or taxonomic work on diatoms is a plus.

How to apply

All applications must be received no later than 13/11/2021 at 23:59 (CET) at  with the following documents attached as one PDF:

  • application letter
  • curriculum vitae
  • a transcript of the required degree
  • names and contact details of at least two reference persons

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.

More information: Prof. Elie Verleyen ( , +32 (0) 9 264 96 29).

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