PhD Position in Biotechnology

Updated: 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 19 Sep 2021

About the positions

Two 3-year PhD fellowships are available at the Department of Biotechnology and Food Science, NTNU (Trondheim, Norway), with an expected start January 1st 2022. The fellowships are funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 956481.

You will report to Professor Ingrid Bakke.


The RASOPTA consortium consists of enthusiastic academic researchers and innovative non-academic partners, which together will train a new generation of scientists with expertise in sustainable and healthy fish production with minimum water consumption. Production of fish in recirculated aquaculture systems (RAS) requires experiences from several scientific disciplines, but there is need to bridge existing knowledge gaps between these disciplines to ensure a high water quality, healthy and non-stressed fish, and a supreme consumer quality of the fish. Therefore, in RASOPTA state-of-the-art training in important disciplines within RAS technology will be provided by 10 universities and research institutes and 8 non-academic partners in 8 countries. Primary goals of the training are to improve microbial processes to maintain a good water quality, to identify flavor compounds that may affect consumer preference for fish from RAS, and to ensure an optimum health and welfare of the fish. The research also aims at developing a DNA-based chip for early warning of quality and health of the fish. To reach the interdisciplinary goals in RASOPTA, the consortium will train 12 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in disciplines ranging from chemistry, microbiology and molecular biology, to physiology and pathology of fish.

About the NTNU ESR projects

The two PhD positions announced here, corresponding to ESR1 and ESR3, will be involved in Work package 1 of the RASOPTA project, which focuses on water quality in RAS. This WP will particularly investigate aspects regarding microbes and particles in RAS and includes a third ESR (ESR2) recruited by the Agricultural Centre for cattle production, grassland management, dairy food, wildlife and fisheries Baden-Württemberg (LAZBW).

Duties of the positions

ESR1: In RAS, biofilters for microbial conversion of toxic ammonia to nitrate are mandatory. In addition to the chemical water quality, the biofilter may also affect the microbial water quality; either positively, through consumption of substrates and nutrients, and thereby reducing the growth of suspended microbes, or negatively, as a potential reservoir for detrimental bacteria. The influence of RAS biofilters on the microbial water quality is poorly understood and will be a major topic for ESR1.

ESR3: The microbes suspended in the RAS water are those potentially interacting with the fish in the rearing tanks, and thus may affect both the composition of the fish microbiomes and the fish health and welfare. There are indications that a major part of bacteria suspended in RAS are associated with particles, but little is known about their potential interactions with the fish and the fish microbiomes. ESR3 will focus on the interactions between the microbiomes suspended in the water and those associated with the fish.

Mobility within the RASOPTA training network will be highly prioritized. For ESR1, secondments are planned at the University of Copenhagen and at a large Norwegian commercial RAS facility for production Atlantic salmon smolt. For ESR3, expected secondments are at LAZBW in Baden-Württemberg in Germany, and at LetSea, a Norwegian center for large-scale aquaculture experiments and research. 

The candidates will be enrolled in the PhD program in Biotechnology ( ) at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, NTNU. The graduate program requires the student to obtain 30 ECTS points during the three-year period in order to graduate. Of these, mandatory training activities in RASOPTA will contribute with 12 ECTS points.

Required selection criteria

Eligibility criteria

The researcher must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Norway for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment at NTNU - unless as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention.

The researcher must be Early Stage Researcher (ESR): at time of recruitment he/she must be in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent research experience)  of his/her research careers and must not have been awarded a doctoral degree.

Other requirements

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in biotechnology, microbiology or a closely related field
  • Hands-on experience with molecular biological techniques is a prerequisite
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level 
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education. 
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program ( 
  • Good written and oral English language skills

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants  and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

  • The ideal candidates will have strong knowledge within microbial biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, and/or microbial ecology 
  • Experience with aquaculture systems, in particular with RAS, will be valuable

Personal characteristics

The successful candidates are flexible and co-operative, enjoy working in teams and have good communication skills. The ability to work independently and to organize and prioritize own work within the project timetable is essential. Other important qualifications are good practical and analytical skills, a critical approach to the research work, and the ability to keep accurate and up to date records. He/she should enjoy interdisciplinary research and learning new skills.

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200,-  per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Biotechnology ( within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include : 

  • An up to one page personal motivation letter
  • CV, certificates and diplomas 
  • transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted. 
  •  If you recently have submitted your master's thesis,  a documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Name and address of three referees 

It must be stated which position you are applying for (ESR1 or ESR3), or if you are applying for both positions you must state which one is of highest interest.

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here . If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Professor Ingrid Bakke, email: . 

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI) .

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters.

Please refer to the application number NV-68/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 19.09.2021

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Biotechnology and Food Science

Our activities contribute to increased exploitation of existing and new ingredients for sustainable food production as well as next-generation energy solutions and medical technology. We educate graduates for a wide range of careers in industry, public administration and academia. The Department of Biotechnology and Food Science  is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences .

Deadline 19th September 2021
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime (2 jobs)
Duration Temporary
Place of service Gløshaugen

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