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OPEN POSITIONS Two PhD Positions in Natural Science, specializing in Biology (Tundra Ecology)

At the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (BioEnv) we have teaching and research activities that stretch from the alpine ecosystem, through forests, cultivated land and streams, all the way into the marine environment. In these environments we study different levels of biological organisation from genes, individuals and populations, to communities and ecosystems. We work within ecology, evolution, physiology, systematics and combinations of these fields in order to understand the impact of natural and anthropogenic changes of the environment.

The department is placed at three different localities: in Gothenburg Botanical garden, at Medicinarberget in Gothenburg, and at the marine research station-Kristineberg. The current position is placed at the Gothenburg Botanical garden.

Project description
Climate warming is happening faster in Arctic and alpine regions than anywhere else on the planet, yet we are only beginning to understand the consequences of this rapid change for tundra ecosystems. The overall aim of this PhD project is to understand how environmental change, particularly climate warming, will impact tundra plant communities and the functioning of tundra ecosystems. The specific focus of the research will be developed together with the supervisor, but could include (1) understanding the relationship between temperature and plant traits (e.g. canopy height, leaf nutrient content, the timing of leaf green-up and flowering) across scales, from an individual plant to the entire tundra biome, (2) exploring the potential for phenological and functional traits to predict a species’ response to temperature change, (3) linking plant traits to ecosystem functions such as carbon and nutrient cycling, and/or (4) exploring the biotic and abiotic limits to species’ range shifts in the face of climate warming. The project will likely involve a combination of field work at one or more Arctic or alpine locations as well as data synthesis using the Tundra Trait Team ( and ITEX ( databases.

The student will be hosted in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Anne Bjorkman. There will be ample opportunity for collaboration with other scientists in the Biological and Environmental Sciences and Earth Sciences departments at the University of Gothenburg, as well as at the University of Edinburgh, Aarhus University, and the University of Colorado. The project is linked to the strategic research area BECC (Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate;, which also hosts a research school that will be open for the recruited PhD student: ClimBEco (

Job assignments
The main task is to conduct the PhD thesis work under supervision, which includes development of the PhD student’s methodology experience, analytical skills, and theoretical depth and breadth. Specific research topics, tools and techniques associated with the research project include:

• Plant community ecology, functional ecology, and/or evolutionary ecology in tundra ecosystems – understanding factors that influence the composition and diversity of plant communities across spatial and temporal scales.
• Global change ecology – attributing aspects of tundra vegetation change to specific drivers (e.g. climate change) using long-term monitoring and experimental methods, including new data collection at Arctic field sites.
• Ecosystem ecology – investigating the consequences of change in plant communities for tundra ecosystem functions such as carbon cycling.
• Quantitative ecology – using quantitative methods to appropriately handle large, hierarchical datasets (e.g. Bayesian hierarchical modeling) in R (preferred) or another programming language; version control and code-sharing using GitHub.

Training will be provided but the student should be keen to learn any new skills required. At least one summer (and likely more) will be spent doing field work at an Arctic or alpine location in northern Sweden, Greenland, Canada, or another country.

Third cycle education
Admission to third cycle education is aiming at a PhD in Natural Science, specializing in Biology. The education runs for four years of fulltime studies, containing three years of thesis work and one year of academic education (i.e. course work and literature studies). A selection of courses at the Department/Faculty is available, but national/international courses can also be selected.  Some teaching and/or course administration can be included which extends the contract to the same extent.

To be eligible for third-cycle studies, the applicant must meet both the general and specific entry requirements. A person meets the general entry requirements for third-cycle courses and study programs if he/she:

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

To meet the specific entry requirements for third-cycle studies, applicants must:

1. have a second-cycle (advanced-level) degree in a relevant* subject area in the natural sciences, or
2. have completed studies for at least 60 higher education credits at a second-cycle level in relevant subject areas in the natural sciences, or
3. have completed a corresponding programme of relevance to the planned third-cycle programme, in Sweden or in another country, or have equivalent qualifications.

*Relevant subject for the planned third-cycle education is biology, biogeochemistry, or physical geography.

Rules regarding education and employment on a doctoral level you will find in Högskoleförordningen (HF, SFS 1993:100). Only applicants who are admitted to the postgraduate level may be hired. Upon appointment the degree of ability to successfully complete the PhD program must firstly be evaluated.

We are seeking two motivated persons for PhD studies in biology with an emphasis on plant ecology.

Essential attributes
- Knowledge of basic ecology or related subject.
- Creative thinking.
-Excellent communication skills, written and spoken, in English are necessary since we work in an international environment.
- Works well alone and as part of a group. Cooperative.
- Willingness to conduct field work in potentially challenging conditions (cold, remote).

Desirable attributes
- Specialization in plant ecology.
- Experience using ecological methods.
- Experience conducting field work under remote/challenging conditions.
- Experience with quantitative data analysis and/or programming in R.
- Experience working in a team.
- Experience with scientific publication.
- Willingness to teach undergraduate students at the host department.

The application should be written in English and must include:

• A short cover letter with the applicant’s justification for the application, i.e., that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
• A list of qualifications (CV)
• Examination certificates and a transcript of courses with grades
• A copy of the Master thesis (or equivalent)
• Employments certificates and other documents deemed important by the applicant
• Contact information for at least two referees that are familiar with the applicant’s qualifications

The top ranked candidates will be selected for an interview, which will be held in English and could also be performed by phone/Skype.

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 selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application.

For further information please contact
Dr. Anne Bjorkman, Senior Lecturer
Phone: +46 76 618 25 47


Henrik Aronsson, Professor and Head of Department
Phone: +46 31 786 48 02

Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg:

The University of Gothenburg promotes equal opportunities, equality and diversity.

Applications will be destroyed or returned (upon request) two years after the decision of employment has become final. Applications from the employed and from those who appeal the decision will not be returned.

The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 47 500 students and 6 400 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.

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:|Last update: 2/23/2017

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