PhD Scholarship in Multispecies Biofilms

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 26 May 2021

The Department of Biology, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering a PhD scholarship in Multispecies Biofilms commencing 1 September 2021.

This PhD scholarship is associated with the ERC Consolidator project “The biofilm matrix and its functional role in the ecology of bacterial communities – BioMatrix". The overall aim of the project is to examine the production and composition of matrix components in multispecies biofilms and their role in shaping community function, activity and protection. A four-species soil community interacting synergistically in biofilm formation will be used as model. Experimental designs will span various levels of community and environmental complexity to facilitate both a mechanistic and an integrative understanding of the impact of the biofilm matrix for community ecology.

The main aim of this PhD project is to examine functional role of the multispecies biofilm matrix. For this, in vitro models will be designed, optimized and applied. These models will contain components resembling those of a natural soil ecosystem, including artificial soil and 3D printed artificial, degradable leaves serving as surface and substrate for model soil biofilms, compatible with confocal laser scanning microscopy. Wild types and genetically engineered variants of the four bacterial stains will be introduced to the models, followed by structural and functional characterization of the community.

The Principal supervisor is Associate professor Mette Burmølle, PhD, Section of Microbiology, Department of Biology, e-mail: burmolle@bio.ku.dk .

Job description

The position is available for a 3-year period. The project will be carried out at Section of Microbiology, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen where you will engage in teamwork within the group and with national and international collaborators.

Your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are:

  • To manage and carry through your research project including:
    • Design, optimization and implementation of in vitro biofilm models
    • Visual analysis of spatial community structure using confocal microscopy
    • Structural and functional characterization of the biofilms using e.g. stains binding specific matrix components, biomass and viability assays etc.Matrix proteomics may be included
  • Attend PhD courses
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • Teach and disseminate your research
  • To stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad
  • Work for the department

Formal requirements                                                

We are looking for a highly motivated and ambitious researcher with strong experience in biofilm microbiology and bacterial interactions. Applicants should hold an MSc degree in Microbiology, Biology, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Molecular Biology or equivalent with good results and good English skills. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be placed on previous publications (if any) and relevant work experience. Furthermore, experience with the following is desirable:

  • Hands on and documented experience with cultivation and analysis of bacteria
  • Hands on and documented experience with use of in vitro biofilm models and/or confocal microscopy analysis of bacterial communities
  • Previous experience with bacterial interactions and/or soil microbiology/microcosms will be seen as an advantage.

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 333,464 (approx. €44,461) including annual supplement (+ pension at a minimum DKK 54,191). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.

Application procedure

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

Please include

  • Cover Letter
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any)
  • 1-2 reference letters (if any)

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

The deadline for the application is 26 May 2021, 23:59 GMT +2

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 https://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/ .

Contact and inquiries

Associate Professor Mette Burmølle, PhD: burmolle@bio.ku.dk

If you consider applying from abroad, you may find useful information on how it is to work in Denmark and at UCPH in this links: http://ism.ku.dk , https://www.nyidanmark.dk/en-us/frontpage.htm and https://www.workindenmark.dk/ .

General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at https://www.science.ku.dk/phd .


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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