Doctoral student in Biology (PA2021/432)

Updated: 29 days ago
Deadline: 08 Apr 2021

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has 40 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

The Faculty of Science conducts research and education within Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Geosciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Environmental Sciences. The Faculty is organized into nine departments, gathered in the northern campus area. The Faculty has approximately 1500 students, 330 PhD students and 700 employees.


Doctoral student in Microbial Evolution

Subject description 

Every ecosystem on our planet is composed of a complex community of organisms. The function of these ecosystems is often dependent on interactions – or symbioses – between community members. In the microbial world, symbiotic interactions based on syntrophy (i.e., a type of mutualistic symbiosis where nutrients are exchanged between organisms to allow for metabolic division of labour) are common, especially between prokaryotic organisms in anoxic environments. Such interactions are essential drivers of biogeochemical processes like global carbon, nitrogen and sulphur cycling.  Whether similar roles can be attributed to single-cell eukaryotes (protists) occupying low-oxygen environments remains unclear owing in large part to our limited understanding of the biology, syntrophic potential, and metabolism of anaerobic eukaryotes.

Work duties

The candidate will lead a project aimed at exploring the metabolic and syntrophic potential of eukaryotic life in low-oxygen environments using bioinformatic and experimental methods. The candidate will use analytical and genomic techniques to investigate the nature, stability and versatility of protist:prokaryote interactions in vitro. We will also use cultivation-independent single-cell methods to isolate individual protist cells and their associated microbial consortia from local freshwater environments. Symbiotic potential of the protists and their resident microbiome will be predicted using state-of-the-art single-cell genomic and transcriptomic methods.

The prospective doctoral candidate will join the Molecular Cell Biology Unit in the Biology Department at Lund University under the supervision of Dr. Courtney Stairs who has a background in eukaryotic microbiology and Prof. Karin Rengefors a leading researcher in aquatic ecology. The project will develop both ‘wet’ and ‘dry’-experimental competencies of the candidate in single-cell isolation, differential proteomics, genomics, and phylogenetics. 

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties can also involve teaching and other departmental duties (no more than 20%).

Admission requirements

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:

  • has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or;
  • has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or;
  • has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third cycle studies in Biology if he or she has:

  • passed an independent project (e.g., degree project) of at least 30 credits in a relevant subject and have good oral and written proficiency in English.
  • Equivalent knowledge acquired through corresponding programs will be assessed individually.
  • To enable interdisciplinary initiatives and important specializations in certain areas, students with qualifications in subjects other than Biology may be considered for admission.

Additional requirements:

  • The applicant must hold MSc or equivalent in a biological discipline including evolutionary biology, molecular biology, ecology, genetics or bioinformatics. Alternatively, the applicant could hold a bioinformatics degree with documented courses in relevant biological disciplines including evolutionary biology or microbial evolution.
  • Candidates should have a documented background in bioinformatics, molecular biology or microbiology.
  • Candidates must have very good oral and written proficiency in English.

Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following:

1. Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study.
2. An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
3. Written and oral communication skills
4. Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, e.g. professional experience.

Other assessment criteria and merits:

Candidates called to an interview will also be assessed based upon an appointed task. Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programme.

Terms of employment

Limit of tenure, four years according to HF 5 kap 7§. Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20% departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1-7 §§.

Instructions on how to apply

Applications should be written in English and be compiled into a PDF-file containing:

1. Cover Letter (2-page maximum) - The cover letter should include the candidate’s scientific interests and career goals and examples of leadership and independence. 

2. CV (3-page maximum) – including a list of publications
3. Contact information for at least three references (email, phone number, nature of the professional relationship)
4. If relevant, PDFs of your publications
5. Certificate of Bachelors and Master’s degrees
6. Transcripts of Bachelors and Master’s degrees


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