Saturday, September 18, 2021

PhD on Evaluating the role of seaweeds in transformative trajectories of Danish food production systems towards sustainability


Applications are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Technical Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Environmental Science programme. The position is available from 1 January 2022 or later.

Re-advertisment: Evaluating the role of seaweeds in transformative trajectories of Danish food production systems towards sustainability

Research area and project description:
The last century has witnessed significant intensifications of natural resource abstraction by agri-food systems and various industrial activities based on linear resource management and accompanied by insufficient pollution control. The economic development has come at a severe cost of ecosystem health and integrity, which contributes to environmental impacts such as global warming, eutrophication, water scarcity, and biodiversity loss and consequently leads to reduced or even diminished natural ecosystem services that humans depend on. Meanwhile, the global societal challenge of food safety and security remains unsolved. As such, eco-innovations are necessary to optimize the environmental performance of the agri-food system while sustaining its provisioning service of food and nutrition to meet human demands.

In Denmark, agricultural trade represents a significant component of Danish economy, and 62% of  the arable land is used for intensive agriculture. By 2030, EU requirements  demand that the Danish non-quota sectors including agriculture to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 39% compared to 2005 levels. By 2050, major agricultural organizations in Denmark attempt to achieve a common goal of becoming carbon neutral.

In such transformative trajectories of Danish food production systems towards sustainability, seaweeds may play significant roles. The past decade has seen a growing interest in the exploitation of local seaweed bio-resources in Denmark due to their commercial potentials and more importantly nature of being environmentally sustainable. Seaweeds do not require no freshwater, arable land, and fertilizer during biomass growth.

Seaweeds can be integrated into agri-food systems via different pathways. Some species can be used for direct food and feed consumption, and some are rich in protein and are suitable for protein extraction. Such integrations into existing food systems contribute to the substitution of commercial food products with heavy environmental footprints. Furthermore, bioactive molecules of seaweeds may help reduce methane emissions from dairy cattle due to the inhibitory effects on ruminant enteric fermentation.

This PhD project is part of two research and innovation projects, Climate Feed  and SeaSus-protein, that are investigating the above-mentioned utilization potentials and emission-reducing effects. The PhD project is expected to contribute to creating climate-resilient Danish food systems by providing science-based decision support for relevant stakeholders on system optimization, business strategic planning, and policy making to. The expected research work includes:

  • Evaluation of the environmental performance of seaweed-based food products
  • Quantifying the cumulative carbon footprints of value chains utilizing different seaweeds and valorisation pathways
  • Assessing the ecosystem services of seaweed biomass production via harvesting algal blooms, aquaculture, and wild harvest

Qualifications and specific competences:
You have a  have a relevant Master’s degree in Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, or equivalent program with excellent academic results and preferably

  • have prior experience performing material flow analysis (MFA) and life cycle assessment (LCA); prior experience in life cycle costing or cost-benefit analysis is an advantage.
  • have good collaboration skills and can work independently
  • be fluent in English (oral and scientific writing)

Place of employment and place of work:
The place of employment is Aarhus University, and the place of work is Department of Environmental Science, Frederiksborgvej 399, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark. 

Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact:
Professor Marianne Thomsen,

How to apply:
Please follow this link to submit your application. Application deadline is 1 November 2021 at 23:59 CET. Preferred starting date is 1 January 2022.

For information about application requirements and mandatory attachments, please see our application guide.

Shortlisting will be used, which means that the evaluation committee only will evaluate the most relevant applications.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background. Salary and terms of employment are in accordance with applicable collective agreement.

Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants.

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