Two PhD fellowships in forest development in post agricultural soils

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 11 Mar 2021

Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering two PhD fellowships within the Silva Nova project commencing 1 June 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Description of the scientific environment
The 3-years PhD scholarships are part of the project “Silva Nova” headed by IGN in collaboration with partners in Estonia and the Netherlands.

Silva Nova is a new 6-years project on ecosystem- and landscape-scale afforestation granted by the NOVO Foundation. The aim of the project is to provide basic understanding of ecosystem succession on former agricultural soil and to develop  soil restoration strategies that support forest productivity and resilience, improve forest-related species diversity and increase benefits from ecosystem services (clean water, C-sequestration, GHG emission reduction, forest associated plant and soil biota communities) after afforestation of former agricultural soil. We offer a lively and world-class international research environment at IGN and within the project. The research team comprises 6-8 senior scientists, 5 post docs and 5 PhD’s and a number of MSc- and BSc-students.

The candidates will be affiliated to Dept. of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN) and more specifically the Section for Forest, Nature and Biomass. IGN has a basis in natural science with 20 research groups covering a broad range of topics within geography, geology, landscape architecture and forest and nature to provide knowledge and education to help solve the big societal challenges, such as climate change and increased pressure on natural resources.

The PhD fellows will be associated to the research groups 1) Biogeochemistry and 2) Ecology and Nature Management, which have a strong research focus on forest and nature management, biogeochemistry and biodiversity, land-use change, climate and environment. We work with basic as well as applied research, teaching and supervision.

Project description within the Silva Nova project, we seek highly motivated applicants for two PhD fellowships:

1) Development in C and N cycling and GHG emissions in new forests on former agricultural land – links to soil biota.
The PhD project focuses on C and N cycling in new forests on agricultural soil whether planted or established by natural colonization. Fluxes of C, N and GHG will be measured in the context of tree species, soil fauna, soil microbiome (functional genes) and their interactions in chronosequences of afforested stands and in soil restauration experiments. There will be a considerable amount of field work in close collaboration with other PhDs, post docs and seniors. The PhD student will be responsible for obtaining biogeochemistry data (C, N, GHG), statistical analysis and dissemination of results scientifically as well as to stakeholders.

Principal supervisor Professor Per Gundersen, Phone: +45 35 33 16 78. Co-supervisor Professor Lars Vesterdal

2) Development of biodiversity in new forests – plant perspective
The PhD project focuses on development of biodiversity in new forests on agricultural soil whether planted or established by natural colonization. Focus will be on tree species, tree microbiome (eDNA) and understory vegetation and their interactions in chronosequences of afforested stands. There will be a considerable amount of field work in close collaboration with other PhDs, post docs and seniors. The PhD student will be responsible for field surveys of vegetation and associated sampling and processing of environmental data, statistical analysis and disseminate results scientifically as well as to stakeholders.

Principal supervisor Professor Inger Kappel Schmidt, Phone: +45 35 33 16 68. Co-supervisor Assistant professor Sebastian Kepfer Rojas

Job description
The position is available for a 3-year period and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are:

  • To manage and carry through your research project
  • 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

The PhD fellowships offered here will have main employment at IGN and be embedded in the Section of Forest, Nature and Biomass, but some time may also be spent at our collaborators ecosystem research in Estonia or the Netherlands. IGN and SNB offer a world-class international research environment in ecosystem science, with English as official working language in addition to Danish.

Key criteria for the assessment of candidates:

  • A master’s degree in biology, forestry or similar
  • Experience with above- and belowground processes is an advantage.
  • Knowledge on soil chemistry and processes, gas flux measurements (PhD 1) or basic taxonomic skills in botany, seed dispersal and environmental filters (PhD 2) or eDNA.
  • Experience with conducting field work, experimental design and statistics is an advantage
  • Good language and cooperation skills plus networking capacity and a driver license.

Formal requirements
Applicants should hold a MSc degree in Biological sciences or other relevant area. The successful applicant is expected to have obtained outstanding grades during the MSc studies, and to be proficient in spoken and written English. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications emphasis will also be put on previous publications (if any) and relevant work experience.

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 330,817 (approx. €44,108) including annual supplement (+ pension at a minimum DKK 53,761). 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, detailing your motivation and background for applying for this PhD project.
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any)
  • 1-3 reference letters (if any)

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

The deadline for applications is 11 March 2021, 23:59 GMT +1.

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  

For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor listed above or Head of Section Vivian Kvist Johannsen,, Direct Phone +45 3533 1699.

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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