PhD student in geohydrology / environmental chemistry / biogeochemistry

Updated: 1 day ago
Deadline: 15 Aug 2022

Published: 2022-06-22

Uppsala University is a comprehensive research-intensive university with a strong international standing. Our ultimate goal is to conduct education and research of the highest quality and relevance to make a long-term difference in society. Our most important assets are all the individuals whose curiosity and dedication make Uppsala University one of Sweden’s most exciting workplaces. Uppsala University has over 54,000 students, more than 7,500 employees and a turnover of around SEK 8 billion.

The Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University is Sweden’s largest and most versatile department of its kind with approximately 250 employees. Our activities are interdisciplinary and combine natural science and technology with social science. We have research programs in air, water and landscape science (LUVAL); geophysics; natural resources and sustainable development; (NRHU); petrology, mineralogy and tectonics (MPT); paleobiology, and wind energy. By investigating the history of Earth, we understand how our planet has developed over time and how sustainable development benefits from this knowledge. More information is available at earth sciences . This project also involves close collaboration with the Swedish university of agricultural sciences (SLU).

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PhD-student in Geohydrology at the Department of Earth Sciences, programme for air- water and landscape science. Starting date September 15th, 2022 or as agreed upon.

Within the project PFAS-active bacteria and microbial communities / consortia from Swedish contaminated sites will be identified and further characterized by e.g. sequencing and analyses of genomes, genetic expressions and metabolites in careful laboratory experiments. We will also investigate how different environmental parameters influence the degradation and the degradation products that are formed will be studied using advanced analytical methods such as high-resolution mass spectrometry. Towards the end of the project the findings from the laboratory studies will be applied in a well-controlled demonstration experiment at a PFAS contaminated site where we stimulate microbial PFAS degradation and investigate how this works in practise. The benefit of the project can in the long run be very large if we manage to develop methods to establish and stimulate microbial communities that degrade PFAS in-situ in soil and groundwater.

The PhD student will work with microbial degradation of PFAS for remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater within the research project bioPFAS. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are extremely difficult to degrade at the same time as many of these substances are both harmful to human health and mobile in the environment. PFAS are or have been used in numerous products and constitute a growing environmental problem. In 2021, more than half of Sweden’s municipalities reported that they have PFAS in the raw water for drinking water production. At the same time PFAS continues to leak out into the environment from contaminated sites such as fire-fighting training areas and landfills. Natural degradation is an important process for the removal of many organic contaminant from the environment. So far, however, the natural degradation of PFAS all the way to non-toxic (completely de-fluorinated) end products has been deemed very slow or maybe not even possible, but on the other hand there is a lack of knowledge about the degradation processes and the organisms involved.

Within this research project we aim to increase the knowledge about microbial degradation of PFAS and in particular answer (among other) the following questions:

  • To what extent can PFAS be microbially degraded in soil and groundwater, which substances are degraded and is the degradation complete or incomplete?
  • Which factors control microbial degradation of PFAS and can good conditions for microbial degradation be achieved or stimulated within contaminated sites in Sweden?

The project is a collaboration between Uppsala university (UU), the Swedish university of agricultural sciences (SLU) and other partners, including companies working with remediation of contaminated sites. The PhD-student will be employed at UU but will also collaborate and work closely with the Department of aquatic sciences and assessment and the Department of soil and environment at SLU including laboratory work at SLU (Uppsala).

We seek a candidate with strong background in environmental or bio- engineering, geohydrology, environmental chemistry, microbiology soil science or similar fields. Proficiency in English (both spoken and written) is required. For employment, (at the starting date) the candidate should hold an MSc degree or equivalent in a field relevant for the topic of the PhD position. The applicant must be eligible for PhD studies. Priority is given to those who are deemed to show the greatest aptitude for a successful completion of graduate studies.

Additional qualifications
The following are considered advantageous: Experience of laboratory work and capability to perform careful laboratory experiments, experience of research on environmental contaminants and their degradation, ability for interdisciplinary work and willingness to learn new things, knowledge about microbiology and/or environmental chemistry.

Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines .

About the employment
The employment is a temporary position according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7. Scope of employment 100 %. Starting date September 15, 2022 or as agreed. Placement: Uppsala. The PhD-student shall primarily devote her/his time to own research studies. The graduate program covers four years of full-time study. The position can be combined with teaching or other duties at the department (maximum 20%), which prolongs the employment with the corresponding time. 

ApplicationThe application should include: a motivation letter describing yourself, your research interests, why you want to do a PhD and why you are suitable for the current position, CV, documentation of your education and course grades, the names and email addresses of reference persons (preferably at least 2), relevant publications including Master’s thesis. 

For further information about the position, please contact: Prof. Fritjof Fagerlund +46-18-4717166,

Please submit your application by 15 of August 2022, UFV-PA 2022/2504.

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Placement: Department of Earth Sciences

Type of employment: Full time , Temporary position longer than 6 months

Pay: Fixed salary

Number of positions: 1

Working hours: 100 %

Town: Uppsala

County: Uppsala län

Country: Sweden

Union representative: ST/TCO
Seko Universitetsklubben

Number of reference: UFV-PA 2022/2504

Last application date: 2022-08-15

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