PhD MSCA-ITN Bio-inspired and Bionic Materials for Enhanced Photosynthesis (BEEP)

Updated: 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 14 Jun 2020

Department of Biology, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering a PhD scholarship in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network on “Bio-inspired and Bionic Materials for Enhanced Photosynthesis” (BEEP).The PhD scholar ship shall investigate the role of fluorescent host pigments for photosynthesis and optics in corals.


The complete application must be sent by email directly to i) Prof. Michael Kühl ( ) and ii) the BEEP network coordinator Dr. Silvia Vignolini ( by 14th June 2020.

Please include:

  • Cover Letter, detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project (max. 2 pages)
  • CV (max. 2 pages) including a list of publications (if any)
  • Summary of last degree thesis (1 page)
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • Two references and full contact details (name, address, telephone & email) of professional referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation

Scientific environment

The BEEP training network is financed by the European Commission Horizon 2020. It unites 9 beneficiaries and 8 partner organisations from both the academic and industrial sectors from 6 countries (United Kingdom, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark, USA). More information about the network can be found at .

The BEEP network provides research and training opportunities for early-stage researchers in the field of bio-mimetic approaches for light management. Scientifically, BEEP aims to i) unravel the fundamental strategies of light management in macroalgae, corals with symbiotic microalgae and bacteria, as well as sea-slugs with sequestered chloroplasts, and ii) to apply such knowledge for creating novel artificial and bionic photosynthetic systems.

Research within the network encompasses a number of disciplines ranging from organic, inorganic, physical chemistry to the material and biological sciences. In addition, inter-sectorial collaboration is promoted through short- and long-term secondments between academic and non-academic participants. The aim of the research programme is to provide its PhD candidates with the practical skills and knowledge so that they can perform top-level research, both in the academic and non-academic sectors. The network-wide training programme consists of workshops and schools. It has been specifically designed to equip the researchers with a balance of research-related and transferable skills, which will enhance their career perspectives.

The specific PhD project will be within Prof Kühl’s group, which is based at the Marine Biological Section labs in Helsingør (approximate 45 train ride north of Copenhagen; see. ). The group is recognized worldwide for its pioneering work on microenvironmental analyses of aquatic symbioses (corals, foraminifera and ascidians) with special emphasis on understanding their bio-optical properties and photobiology (for more information see: ).

Project topic: The role of fluorescent host pigments for photosynthesis and optics in corals

Many corals synthesize conspicuous fluorescent pigments in their tissues, which are organized either above or in between their microalgal symbionts. The role(s) of such fluorescent host pigments for coral optics and photosynthesis remain underexplored, albeit recent work indicates that light propagation the thermal microenvironment of corals can be strongly influenced by fluorescent host pigments. In the PhD project, the optical properties of fluorescent host pigments will be studied with microsensors, bioimaging (optical coherence tomography, hyperspectral imaging, chemical imaging, light-sheet microscopy) and fast spectroscopy techniques (in collaboration with BEEP project partners). Besides optical characterization and modeling of the coral light field, experimental work will involve measurements of photosynthesis and behavior in intact corals. The goal is to unravel fundamental mechanism, whereby fluorescent host pigments affect photosynthetic efficiency in corals.

Principal supervisor is Prof. Michael Kühl, Marine Biological Section, Department of Biology ( , Phone: +45 4047 6304)..

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for highly motivated researchers with an excellent academic background in Biology, Chemistry, Material Science, or Physics (or related disciplines including engineering)

Marie Curie Training Networks offer a unique opportunity to get cutting-edge training in a multidisciplinary environment with a focus on academic and personal development of the PhD fellows. The supervisors in the BEEP network each provide specific competences and as part of the network you develop your skills and carry out research both independently and as part of a network of 9 PhD fellows. The consortium ensures exchange of ideas through network-wide training events, summer schools and intersectoral secondments. As a PhD fellow in the BEEP network, you need to have good social skills, be innovative and goal-oriented and be willing to conduct the planned secondments.

Formal requirements

Applicants should hold or be close to completing a MSc or MEng in Biology, Chemistry, Material Science, or Physics (or related disciplines). Knowledge of photophysiology, photosynthesis, (bio)physics, (bio)optics, or numerical modelling of light propagation, or materials characterization are considered advantageous. Excellent command of spoken and written English is required. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be laid on previous publications (if any) and relevant work experience.

Job conditions

Deadline for applications is June 14, 2020 .

The PhD student will be appointed under a 3-year employment contract with a competitive salary and mobility allowance at the host institution. The fellowship can start on September 1, 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD student will be enrolled in the PhD program of the Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, with the specific intent that it results in a PhD degree and scientific publications.

Job description

The position is available for a 3-year period. Your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE and the BEEP network are.

  • To manage and carry through your research project
  • Attend PhD courses both within and outside the BEEP network
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • Participate in international congresses and BEEP network meetings
  • Stay at research institutions abroad for secondments
  • Disseminate your research

EU eligibility criteria for candidates

The applicant may be of any nationality but in order to be eligible for the positions the following criteria applies to all applicants: Applicants must at the time of recruitment:

  • Have a BSc and a MSc or equivalent in Biology, Chemistry, Physics or a related discipline
  • Be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers
  • Have not been awarded a doctoral degree
  • Have not resided in the country of the host beneficiary (Denmark) for more than 12 months in the last 3 years

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