PhD scholarship in Environmental Microbiology

Updated: about 2 months ago

A new PhD scholarship is available that will study the environmental dimension of antimicrobial resistance. Specifically, the goal will be to assess how low concentration biocides affect the transmission of AMR genes.  This PhD is integrated in an EU-wide research consortium with additional links to China through the DTU-SDC collaboration.

Effects of biocides on horizontal gene transfer
The Water Technology and Process Section at DTU Environment offers a Ph.D. position with a focus on environmental microbiology in the context of the antimicrobial crisis. The position is opened to be filled as soon as possible.

The Water Technology and Process Section uses multidisciplinary approaches to provide the Science that enables the safe and sustainable treatment, distribution, use, reuse and protection of water resources. The section offers an excellent research environment with international staff, postdocs, and PhD students.

This position is housed in DTU Environment and funded by the international research project Biocide (funded by the EU Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI) on Antimicrobials, JPI-AMR, JPI-OCEANS, and JPI-WATER). Additional funding derives from SDC, the University Partnership Denmark-China.

The overall aim of BIOCIDE is to determine how antibacterial biocides contribute to the development and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria in different aquatic/marine ecosystems, and to inform and enable measures that ultimately protects human health and safe water resources for both humans and wildlife.

Responsibilities and qualifications
The aim of the thesis is to quantify the potency of selected biocides at low concentration to induce horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes via conjugation and transformation and to relate transfer to cellular responses induced by biocide exposure.

The research will leverage fluorescence bioreporters, flow cytometry, and (meta)transcriptomics.

The candidate is expected to spend substantial amount of time (up to 9 months) in a SDC collaborating lab in China and support teaching activities under the SDC Water Environment theme.

In detail, the PhD project focuses on the following research topics:

  • Identification/improvement of experimental platform to quantify horizontal gene transfer via conjugation and transformation.
  • Screening of biocides at low concentrations for stimulation/reduction of transfer for both model organisms and environmental communities
  • Examination of cellular processes that mediate the stimulation/reduction of transfer (for example via response to oxidative stress)

We are seeking candidates with Master’s degree (min. 120 ECTS points) in Environmental Microbiology, Environmental Engineering, Biotechnology, or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree, with experience within the field of gene mobility in microbial systems.  

In addition to the above, the following further qualifications will be considered in the assessment:

  • Strong background and interest in at least some of the following areas: bioreporters, horizontal gene transfer and plasmid biology, microbial ecology.
  • Skills/knowledge within advanced fluorescence microscopy, molecular methods applied to environmental microbial communities, water engineering
  • Excellent communication skills, both in writing and oral presentation
  • Open-minded team player, able to work in multidisciplinary and multinational teams
  • Experience with scientific writing is an advantage

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here .

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Barth F Smets, and Senior Researcher Arnaud Dechesne.

Information about DTU Environment is available at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark

Application procedure
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than
10 September 2021 (Danish time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here )

You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,900 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.

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