PhD scholarship in Marine Larval Hatchery Technology: Microbial Management and Immune System Ontogeny in European Eel

Updated: 8 months ago
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

A PhD Scholarship in marine larval culture technology is available at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua) with starting date 1st December 2019. Focus is on the role of microbial management and immune system ontogeny in European eel larval culture as an example of marine larval hatchery development for recirculating aquaculture systems.

The scholarship is part of a newly established “Joint PhD degree” between the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The PhD will be affiliated to the Fish Biology Research Group at DTU and the Department of Biotechnology and Food Science at NTNU. The project will be carried out at DTU (two years) and NTNU (one year) as a collaborative, integrated research initiative. The PhD degree will be fully joint degrees from both universities.

DTU is an internationally leading technical university in the areas of technical and natural sciences. DTU Aqua conducts research, educates, provides advice, and contributes to innovation in sustainable exploitation and management of aquatic resources. The institute is characterised by international research staff, comprising approx. 120 academic employees, organised in fourteen research areas. Key research areas include biology and population ecology of aquatic organisms, ecosystem structure and dynamics, aquatic physics and chemical processes, and fisheries and aquaculture technology development. The fish biology research area focuses on generating new knowledge on developmental characteristics and physiological requirements of fish throughout their life history, thereby providing insights into population dynamics and ecosystem functioning as well as assisting conservation biology and aquaculture innovation.

NTNU is the largest university in Norway and the main university of education within the technology domain. It has Oceans and Biotechnology as two of its six strategic research areas. The Department of Biotechnology and Food Science has about 90 employees, teaches at all levels and is organised in four research groups. The “Analysis and Control of Microbial Systems” group focuses on providing services from microbial communities in a variety of systems, including wastewater, biogas and aquaculture systems. The group has been a pioneer in research related to microbe-fish interactions and microbial management in rearing of marine fish larvae.

The research of the PhD relates to the multidisciplinary research project: Improve technology and scale-up production of offspring for European eel aquaculture (ITS-EEL). Here, the main goal is to breed eels, develop larval culture technology and establish a captive production of glass eels for a closed cycle production of this species. The project is performed in collaboration with industry and international scientific collaborators.

Responsibilities and tasks 

The project work is multidisciplinary and experimental, where practical tasks are performed as teamwork in collaboration with partners. The specific objective of the PhD project is to substantiate our knowledge about the impact of host-microbe and microbe-microbe interaction on offspring ontogeny, immunology and survivorship in culture of marine larval fish. Applying European eel as a model, it utilises the complementing expertise of the two research groups to optimise the research project. The PhD study that includes experimental research and laboratory analyses is tentatively organised into four tasks. 1) Microbial water quality and offspring stocking density affect microbiome composition and larval health, 2) Larval microbiome shift and immune system ontogeny and functionality in relation to bacterial infection, 3) Gut-priming and immuno-stimulation drive microbiome composition, immune system development and feeding success, 4) Community assembly and succession of the microbiome in eel larvae.

Experience within one or more of the following areas is required:

  • Fish biology, physiology and morphology
  • Fish early life history, immunology and physiology
  • Microbial ecology
  • Molecular biology


Candidates should have:

  • A master's degree in biology, aquatic science and technology or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in biology
  • Skills in experimental/analytical biology
  • Proficiency in verbal and written English
  • Experience with scientific authorship
  • Ability to work problem oriented
  • Joy in both independent work and interdisciplinary research in groups

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 .


Senior Research Scientist Jonna Tomkiewicz, DTU Aqua, and Professor Olav Vadstein, NTNU, will perform the assessment of the applicants together with relevant project partners/participants.

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.

The successful candidate will be situated at DTU Aqua, Hirtshals (experimental work) with periodic stays at DTU Aqua in Lyngby and at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway (laboratory and data analyses).

The position is to be filled by 1 December 2019.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here .

Further information

For further information about the project, please contact Senior Scientist Jonna Tomkiewicz, , +45 3588 3408 or Professor Olav Vadstein, , +47 9189 7034.

General information may be obtained from Laura Mundus Nielsen,

You can read more about DTU Aqua at and about NTNU at .


Please submit your online application no later than 10 October 2019.

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)
  • 1-2 page scientific overview framing the research outlined in tasks and responsibilities above
  • 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 )

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are

encouraged to apply.

DTU Aqua has 330 employees, of whom app. one third are scientific staff. The other employees are assistant biologists, laboratory technicians, administrative staff, ship’s crew, student assistants etc. The institute is organised into eight scientific sections, which carry out the research, educational and advisory activities. In addition, the institute has a number of scientific and administrative support functions, including the research vessels DANA and HAVFISKEN. DTU Aqua has employees in Lyngby, Hirtshals, Nykøbing Mors and Silkeborg.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.

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