Doctoral student in Biology


Lund University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top universities. The University has around 45 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

Work duties

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties can also include teaching and other departmental duties, up to 20%.

The aim of this PhD project is to investigate the potential that agricultural practices have to increase deep (30-100cm) soil carbon (C) stocks, while also improving mechanistic understanding of the soil microbial processes that determine soil organic matter (SOM) persistence. Specifically, we will determine how agricultural paradigms with perennial crops, supporting deep rhizospheres, can provide a means to both store C and maintain soil fertility. We will test fundamental soil science theory, and attempt to optimize the contradictive ecosystem services of mitigating climate change by storing C while provisioning plant nutrients. We hypothesize that (1) conversion to PC systems with deep rhizospheres will increase SOM contents (via the microbial carbon pump), extend SOM retention time (increasing persistence), and reduce the nutrient content (N and P) locked in SOM, and (2) belowground root input in PC systems will trigger a rhizosphere priming effect, resulting in recovery of nutrients from SOM throughout the profile (<1m). These anticipated effects will make agricultural soils (1) mitigate climate warming by storing C, (2) be more resilient to indirect effects of warming (drought), and (3) maintain a nutrient supply conducive for a sustainable agricultural productivity.

While set within the context of applied environmental science, the project is curiosity-driven, with a basic science foundation, and open to freely develop based on the interests of the PhD student and supervisor team.

The project will involve state-of-art tracking radio- and stable isotopic tracing methods to estimate carbon and nutrient fluxes in soil, and methods to resolve the growth rates of soil microbes at high temporal resolution. There will also be opportunities to characterize fractions of microbial biomass, necromass, and soil organic matter, with the ambition to track isotopic signals into them. In addition, various methods will be employed to characterize soil, including aggregate water stability, and fractionation methods. These mixed approaches will include the use of a wide array of analytical methods, including GCs, HPLCs, Liquid scintillators, Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry, etc.

The project will include field components, but will be laboratory intensive. The PhD student will be active within the MBLU-environment at LU (, and will be supervised by Johannes Rousk, Lettice Hicks and Albert Brangarí.

Admission requirements

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:

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

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third cycle studies in Biology if he or she has passed an independent project (for example a degree project) of at least 30 credits in a relevant subject and have good oral and written proficiency in English.

Additional requirements

Candidates should have an advanced university degree (M.Sc. or equivalent experience / competence) in biology, biogeochemistry, environmental science, or equivalent fields, preferably with a focus on microbial ecology. Proficiency in English is a requirement. Documented experience with research (e.g. master thesis or equivalent), and with laboratory methods relevant to the project are important merits.

In addition to the mandatory requirements, documented experience in the following areas will be
considered as strong merits:

  • Documented experience with analytical methods to resolve microbial communities, including the
    use of biomarkers, amplicon sequencing, or similar
  • Documented experience with the use of radiotracers or stable isotope tracers
  • Documented experience with the use of methods to charactise physical, chemical or biological components of soil or environmental samples.

Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following:

  • Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study.
  • An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, for example professional experience.

Consideration will also be given to strong collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programe.

Terms of employment

Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20% departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1–7 §§.

Instructions on how to apply

The application should include a letter that includes the motivation for PhD studies, and a description of previous education and research interests (max 2 pages). It should further include a curriculum vitae (CV), copies of degrees and transcripts of academic records, and contact information (phone, email) for at least two personal references. Relevant publications can also be enclosed, including accepted academic papers and research theses (e.g. master thesis).

Type of employmentTemporary position
First day of employment2023-09-01 or according to agreement
SalaryMonthly salary
Number of positions1
Full-time equivalent100
CountySkåne län
Reference numberPA2023/763
  • Johannes Rousk, professor, 046-2223745
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-2229362
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet,
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-2229366
Last application date02.Jun.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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