PhD in Geomicrobiology, the biogeochemical fate of marine plastic

Updated: 23 days ago
Deadline: 12 Nov 2020

Applications are welcome for a three-year PhD position at the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN) at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH). The position is funded by a VILLUM Foundation Young Investigator Programme Grant to Assist. Prof. Nicole Posth on the topic of biogeochemical cycling associated with marine (micro)plastic debris, as well as a collaborative grant on the topic of plastic transport pathways and fate in coastal waters (“TRACE”) funded by Geocenter Danmark (PI: Mikkel Fruergaard, Co-PIs in IGN including N Posth and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS).

The PhD research will be primarily carried out in the Geomicrobiology lab established within the Sedimentary Systems Group (SedSys) in the section of Geology.  The lab collaborates closely with research groups in the section of Geography, Marine Biology at UCPH, as well as the University of Southern Denmark, the Natural History Museum of Denmark, the Geological Survey of Denmark & Greenland, the Vietnamese Institute of Oceanography, and Stockholm University (Sweden), among others.  For more information, please refer to:

Our aim in this project is to define how microbial and mineralogical processes impact the environmental fate of (micro)plastics. This includes how microbes may actively or passively impact plastic transport, preservation or degradation in water and sediment, but does not exclude the consideration of abiotic processes. To reach this goal, we study microbe-plastic interactions in the laboratory, with in situ experiments, and in field samples. The study areas in this project include: the Danish coast, as well as field sites in Vietnam and Myanmar.

The selected candidate will be able to show a strong affinity for and experience in aqueous biogeochemistry, marine microbiology, or geomicrobiology, as well as in element cycling and transport associated with plastic debris in the marine environment. As part of their work, the candidate will 1) apply molecular community analysis to characterize the microbial communities associated with plastic debris in laboratory and targeted field samples and 2) develop and use bio-imaging and biogeochemical protocols to link microbial community associations to element cycling at and near the plastic-microbe interface. The selected candidate will be integrated into a team working on various aspects of microbe-plastic interactions and will work closely with both lab members and collaborators. 

Qualifications and job requirements: 
The candidate must have completed her/his MSc in a relevant discipline; i.e., biogeochemistry, geomicrobiology, molecular biology. The candidate should have some background in microbial culturing, field sampling, and/or standard and cutting-edge geomicrobiological techniques. An aptitude for laboratory and fieldwork are required. Creativity, curiosity, independent thinking, good communication skills in English, and the ability to work in a team are all important qualities.

The successful candidate will be responsible for the daily management of his/her research project in coordination with the supervisor and other members of the group. S/he may be involved in the training and co-supervision of staff members/students and the position may include performance of additional duties such as teaching and outreach. 

All PhD candidates are enrolled at the PhD School at the Faculty of Science: .

For further information please contact Nicole Posth, email:, tel: +45 3533 4277 or view:

Terms of employment 

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.
Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.
The starting salary is currently at a minimum DKK 331,125 (approx. €43,750) including annual supplement (+ pension at a minimum DKK 53,811). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.

The position is open from 1 February 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.  

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.  

The application package should include:   

  • A letter of motivation  
  • Complete curriculum vita,
  • Documentation of diplomas (Master degree or equivalent)   
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any)
  • 1-3 reference letters (if any)

Application Procedure
The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee.

The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science. You can read more about the recruitment process at .

The deadline for applications is 12 November 2020, 23:59 GMT +1.   

The application must be submitted electronically in English via:

General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at .

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.

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