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PhD fellowship in Environmental Toxicology

Københavns Universitet (KU)

PhD project in Modelling the sensitivity of aquatic plant and algae species to chemical pollutants.
Department of Environmental Science, Section of Environmental Chemistry and Physics, invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in Effect-directed modelling from primary production to ecosystem level: extrapolation between species of primary producers . The project is part of the Horizon Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action QTOX, harbouring a total of 10 PhD-positions and financed by the European Commision.

Call H2021-MSCA-DN-01 – Acronym: QTOX
Start date is 1 February 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project
It is impossible to assess the risk of all chemical pollutants to all species in the environment at all sorts of environmental conditons. Chemical risk assessments therefore depend on models which can predict the chemical fate and biological effect across species and endpoints. Several models exsist but few are fully evaluated for their ability to predict fate and effects under nature like conditions. The overall aim of QTOX is to address the robustness of models based on mechanistic knowledge of the underlying processes in the chain from exposure to effects, across all levels of biological organisation, with close connection to regulatory endpoints, and under environmentally realistic conditions, i.e., including the dynamics of chronic exposures to mixtures of chemicals. The robustness of all models will be evaluated on microcosm scenarios under two environmental regimes in Spain and Holland, respectively. Read more about the project on www.qtox.eu

The objective of the current PhD is to establish the relationships between different species of aquatic plants and algae in terms of vulnerability, time to effect and recovery times when exposed to chemicals specifically targeting primary producers (herbicides and metal complexes such as Cu-pyrithione and Zn-pyrithione).

We expect that the PhD will establish the significance of architecture (surface to volume ratio), surface properties (cuticula and cell wall composition) and methods of carbon acquisition (from air, sediment via lacuna tissue, or from the water as CO and/or HCO3) in determining species sensitivities of primary producers. The focus will be on determining the time to manifestation of effects on photosynthesis and growth parameters, and the time to recovery. The results will be used to parameterise TKTD models, and to explore which parameters have the largest effects on species differences, and to what extent the models developed for one species and one chemical mode of action can be extrapolated to other species and other chemicals. The results will provide an increased understanding of parameters driving species specific differences in chemical sensitivity of aquatic primary producers towards water soluble pollutants. Application of the developed model will establish the extent to which data derived from standard test species such as green algae and duckweed can be used to predict effects on more complex primary produces such as submerged and emergent macrophyte species under environmentally relevant exposure conditions.

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for candidates within the field(s) of biology or environmental toxicology, ideally with insights in plant physiology. Knowledge of statistical and mechanistic modelling is an advantage.

Our group and research- and what do we offer?
As a PhD you will be part of the research group of Environmental Toxicology (https://plen.ku.dk/english/research/env_chem_phys/et/) in the Section of Environmental Chemistry and Physics. We have a well equipped ecotox lab, and collaborate closely with analytical and environmental chemists on a wide range of pollution problems. Being part of the Department of Plant and Environmental Science, we also have access to state of the art plant growth facilities and a wealth of methods to assess parameters essential for plant growth and stress recovery. You will work close together with another PhD from the QTOX project, who will also be based in Copenhagen.

We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. The PhD includes three secondment periods: Two times app. 2 weeks internship at University of Valencia with As.. Prof. Andreu Rico to help with monitoring and measuring in the microcosm facility there and 1 month stay and Bayer, Mohnheim, within the effect-model group of Thomas Preuss with the aim of parameterizing, adjusting developing and implementing TKTD models for aquatic primary producers.

Principal supervisor is professor Nina Cedergreen, Department of Plant and Environmental Science, E-mail: [email protected], Direct Phone: +45 35 33 33 97, Mobile Phone: +45 29 61 17 43.
The position is a three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree.

Qualifications needed for the regular programme
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. biology, plant science or environmental science. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

Applicants can be of any nationality but must comply with the Horizon Europe MSCA eligibility criteria: HORIZON MSCA Mobility Rule: researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays and time spent by the researcher as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.

HORIZON MSCA eligibility criteria: supported researchers must be doctoral candidates, i.e. not already in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of the recruitment. Researchers who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will not be considered eligible.

Terms of employment in the regular programme
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

We are looking for the following qualifications:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other relevant professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in plant physiology and mechanistic modelling
  • Good language skills

Application and Assessment Procedure
Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include:

    • Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
    • Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
    • Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
    • Publication list (if possible)
    • Reference letters (if available)
    Application deadline:
    The deadline for applications is 16 December 2022. 23:59 GMT+1.
    We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

    The further process
    After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

    The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at https://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/.

    Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in week 3 and 4 in 2023.

    For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

    General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website: https://www.science.ku.dk/phd/.

    The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position.

    Københavns Universitet giver sine knap 10.000 medarbejdere muligheder for at udnytte deres talent fuldt ud i et ambitiøst, uformelt miljø. Vi sikrer traditionsrige og moderne rammer om uddannelser og fri forskning på højt internationalt niveau. Vi søger svar og løsninger på fælles problemer og gør ny viden tilgængelig og nyttig for andre.

    Nina Cedergreen
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Ansøgningsfrist: 16-12-2022

    Ansættelsesdato: 01-02-2023

    Arbejdstid: Fuldtid

    Afdeling/Sted: PLEN

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