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OPEN POSITIONS PhD position in Analytical Chemistry / Molecular Biology / Microbiology

Subject area

Microbiology / Molecular Biology / Analytical Chemistry

Keywords: biofloc, biofilm, probiotics, exopolymer, bioreactors, recirculating aquaculture systems, aquaponics, microalgae, microbial relationships, bacteria

One of the greatest current challenges in aquaculture is the ability to develop new and novel feed sources that are better able to utilize available nutrient and energy inputs. Aquaculture is growing rapidly, but its key inputs, including fishmeal from wild-caught lower trophic-level fish present a number of challenges for industry sustainability. Phytoplankton, bacteria and cyanobacteria have all been used as probiotic supplements in feed, but only more recently as a substitute for protein in feeds. Yet wild fish thrive while ingesting naturally occurring microbial communities (biofilm/periphyton, biofloc) and the use of microorganisms to boost aquaculture performance is not a new practice given that bacteria and yeasts are frequently used in commercial production as pre- and probiotic supplements and immunostimulants. However, only relatively recently have commercial operations demonstrated the utility of microbes as a direct nutrient source for a variety of farmed organisms.

Microorganisms are novel feed sources in aquaculture not only because they can be relatively inexpensive to produce, but because they also have the potential to influence one of the most basic concepts in nutrition: gut health. Probiotic research in humans has demonstrated the importance of microbial diversity in the gut, and the same applies in fish, where the immune system acquires its resilience from microbial exposure. Digestion and hence nutrition depends largely on microbial composition of the gut. Considerable research has demonstrated the utility of biofloc, an assemblage of bacteria, fungi, phytoplankton and zooplankton within an exopolymeric matrix that is part of natural fish diets because of its ubiquitous presence in the water column in dissolved, colloidal, and/or aggregate forms. It contains essential fatty acids, as well as protein and a range of other growth-promoting factors that can be beneficial for the health and nutrition of aquatic organisms. In this project, we take a novel approach to the use of microorganisms for enrichment of feed, including manipulation of microbial species and culture conditions to maximize the nutritional content of microalgal biomass for shellfish, and biofloc for fish and shrimp in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).

Job description: The candidate will be responsible for cultivation in bioreactor systems of specific microbial assemblages that contribute to enhanced growth and well-being of live fishfeed (rotifers, brine shrimp) widely used in aquaculture. They will also work on microalgal production for shellfish, and biofloc systems for fish and shrimp.  Objectives for achieving project goals include: i) increased production of energy storage and other growth-enhancing compounds in biofloc  iv) heterotrophic and autotrophic microalgal enhancement of live feeds  ii) characterization of nutrients, including vitamins such as B12, amino acids such taurine, and their bioavailability in algal and biofloc biomass iii) physiological effects of enhanced feeds on gut health.

The candidate will be responsible for running applied experiments in several different labs (Europe, Australia, Asia) thus requiring flexibility for extended stays in various locations as well as international travel to participate in meetings, working groups, conferences and visits with industry partners.

Key qualifications:  We are seeking a candidate who is independent and self-motivated; details of the project can be adjusted based on the candidate’s skills and interests. The candidate will be expected to take leadership within the project as they will be required to drive and conclude their work independently, to take initiative and discuss/develop their own ideas including writing well-formulated reports and journal articles. The candidate will be working in a multidisciplinary team of engineers, pathologists, food scientists and modellers involving several research groups internationally, thus good team skills, communication and the ability to travel are required.

At minimum, the candidate must possess a masters’ degree with experience in molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, bioengineering, biotechnology, veterinary sciences, bioinformatics, cell biology or related discipline. Demonstrated experience with various analytical biochemical techniques (e.g. ICPMS, spectroscopy, mass spec) and microscopy (e.g. epifluorescence, holographic digital, CLSM) are very desirable and/or knowledge of cell cultures, cell signalling, and/or polymeric chemistry is advantageous. Please clearly indicate on your application any specific experience with molecular techniques, including genomics, microbiology; chromatography (HPLC / GC), fluorescent tags/probes, UV spectroscopy. It is not a requirement that the candidate has prior experience in aquaculture, but it would be useful to have skills such as technical operation of multiphase bioreactors and/or aquarium systems.  Experience of microbiology, molecular biology, bioanalytical assays and working with other microorganisms (e.g. fungi, cyanobacteria, viruses) are considered merits. If the following items are not evident on the CV, please state clearly in the cover letter how you meet the following requirements:

  • Proof of research and scientific writing skills with at least 1 published peer-reviewed article as first author (please also highlight any technical reports written). Full-text of the article and your masters’ thesis must be provided with the application.
  • Demonstrated statistical skills, including work with R or other relevant software
  • Excellent teamwork

A start date is required prior to May 15, 2019, but the exact start date for this position is negotiable depending on the availability of a suitable candidate.

Personal qualifications

The position is based at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Good communication skills in English (written and spoken) are necessary. International applicants will be eligible for Swedish residency permits if hired. The position involves frequent international travel as the work is being conducted with partners in four different international laboratories. The candidate must therefore demonstrate a willingness and ability to work for extended periods in different countries as the project will require longer collaborative periods in partner labs. The candidate will also help host visiting researchers from these foreign labs in Sweden. Candidates without any prior international work/study experience will not be considered.

Application procedure

The application must include:

  • A CV and cover letter that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
  • Full-text of a peer-reviewed article published in an academic journal, and a copy of your masters’ thesis must be provided with the application;
  • Name and contact details of three referees attached in a file entitled References your name.pdf

If the following items are not evident on the CV, please state clearly in the cover letter how you meet the following requirements:

  • Proof of research and scientific writing skills with at least 1 published article as first author in a peer-reviewed journal (please also highlight any technical reports written).
  • Willingness to travel internationally for research, conferences and other project meetings;
  • Any prior scholarships or awards received;
  • Relevant scientific experience as specified and demonstrated statistical skills, including software such as R.

Regulations for the evaluation of qualifications for academic positions are given in Chapter 4, Section 3 - 4 of the Higher Education Ordinance.

Employment terms

Applications by February 1, 2019 for an approximate start date of May 15th, 2019

The duration of this paid position is 4 years. As an employee of the university you will receive a salary commensurate with successful progression within the PhD program, you will also have a full spectrum of vacation and leave benefits, as well as national health insurance.

Contact information

For further information about the position, please contact Alyssa Joyce: alyssa.joyce@gu.se

How to apply

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 37 000 students and 6 000 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract scientists and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.The University of Gothenburg promotes equal opportunities, equality and diversity.

In connection to this recruitment, we have already decided which recruitment channels we should use. We therefore decline further contact with vendors, recruitment and staffing companies.

Page Manager: rekrytering@gu.se|Last update: 2/23/2017
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