PhD Scholarships in trait-based analysis of life in the ocean

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)

Ph.d. & forskning

Frist 15. april 2019

Centre for Ocean Life ( offers 2-3 x 3-year PhD fellowships in trait-based analysis of life in the ocean. The PhDs can have a focus either on developing trait-based models or on compiling and analysing observational data on marine traits and diversity. The fellows will be employed at DTU Aqua (The National Institute for Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark).

We expect PhD candidates in modellingto develop, implement and analyse trait-based models of marine ecosystems. The focal traits could be any behavioral or life-history traits; currently we are working with body size, defense and behavior, shell formation, habitat selection in the water column, jellyness, and diazotrophy. The models could describe any life-form in the ocean. Our current focus is on communities of unicellular plankton, copepods, and fish, all in a global context.

We expect PhD candidates in data analysisto investigate patterns, drivers and the underlying assembly processes shaping the distribution of community traits, as well as the taxonomic (species) and functional (trait) diversity of marine organisms. The candidates will make use of available large-scale data sets of species occurrences, abundances and traits sampled across marine ecosystems and organism groups (including plankton, fish and benthos) and based on statistical tools and modelling develop descriptions and a mechanistic understanding of trait-patterns as observed in nature.

Overall, there in considerable freedom to formulate projects within the general frameworks described above and applicants are encouraged to present their own ideas and/or to contact us to discuss specific project ideas.

The final PhD project will be developed in collaboration with the relevant principal investigator(s) in the Centre.

Responsibilities and tasks
The PhD candidate(s) will become part of the vibrant, cross-disciplinary, and international research environment at the Centre for Ocean Life that is a Villum Kann Rasmussen Centre of Excellence. The centre is a collaborative effort to develop a fundamental understanding and predictive capability of marine ecosystems through the use of trait-based approaches. We currently have a group of about 20 young scientists associated the Centre (PhD and Postdocs). They are working on various aspects of marine life using diverse approaches (observational, experimental, theoretical) while collaborating through weekly science meetings, annual science retreats, numerous working groups, and collaborative projects. Their backgrounds are as diverse as are those of the PIs of the Centre, from physics and mathematics to biology and chemistry, and we spend considerable effort developing cross-disciplinary communication and projects since we believe that the potential for discovery and progress may be achieved by confronting the different disciplines.

We are looking for physicists/mathematicians/engineers/statisticians with a keen interest in marine ecology, or ecologists with documented quantitative skills or experience in the handling and statistical analysis of large data sets.

Candidates should hold a MSc degree (or something equivalent) in physics, biology, mathematics, engineering, bioinformatics, or similar.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

The successful candidate is expected to start in 2019. Candidates that complete their MSc before then can apply.

Further information
For further information about the positions and the projects please contact Professor Ken H Andersen (, Professor Andy Visser (, or Senior Researcher Martin Lindegren (

You can read more about the Centre for Ocean Life at: Centre for Ocean Life, the associated project “mechanistic approach to plankton ecology”, and the National Institute of Aquatic Resources at: DTU Aqua.

Application procedure
Please submit your online application no later than 15 April 2019.

To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form. The following must be attached in English:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Possible outline of project ideas, and other material that you would like to be included in the evaluation

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their MSc degree, but they cannot begin their scholarship before having received their MSc degree.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.

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Ansøgningsfrist d. 15.04.2019

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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)
DTU er et teknisk eliteuniversitet med international rækkevidde og standard. Vores mission er at udvikle og nyttiggøre naturvidenskab og teknisk videnskab til gavn for samfundet. 11.200 studerende uddanner sig her til fremtiden, og 6.000 medarbejdere har hver dag fokus på uddannelse, forskning, myndighedsrådgivning og innovation, som bidrager til øget vækst og velfærd.

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