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The Department of Plant Sciences (IPV), Faculty for Biosciences at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant 3 year PhD–position in Plant Sciences within Urban Agriculture.

The position is associated with the Horizon 2020 EU-China research project SiEUGreen (“Sino-European innovative green and smart cities”), coordinated by NMBU in close collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy (NIBIO). The main idea of this project is to introduce circular economy and circulation of wastes/urban agriculture in urban areas and small communities.

The PhD position is a collaboration between the groups Food Crops & Plant Protection and Plant Biology & Biotechnology at IPV. The PhD student will use food crops as model plants. There will be close connections with other groups at NMBU and NIBIO who specialise in recycling of human and household waste and characterisation of microorganisms and denitrifying organisms in soil.

Research project

SiEUGreen aspires to enhance the EU-China cooperation in promoting urban agriculture for food security, resource efficiency and smart, resilient cities. Building on the model of zero-waste and circular economy, it will demonstrate how technological and societal innovation in urban agriculture can have a positive impact on society and economy, by applying novel resource-efficient agricultural techniques in urban and peri-urban areas, developing innovative approaches for social engagement and empowerment and investigating the economic, environmental and social benefits of urban agriculture. In order to achieve its objectives, SiEuGreen brings together a multi-disciplinary Consortium of European and Chinese researchers, technology providers, SMEs, financiers, local and regional authorities and citizen communities.

 The project consists in the preparation, deployment and evaluation of showcases in 5 selected European and Chinese urban and periurban areas: a previous hospital site in Fredrikstad, Norway, community gardens in Denmark, previously unused municipal areas with dense refugee population in Turkey, big urban community farms in Beijing and Central China. Throughout SiEUGreen’s implementation, EU and China will share technologies and experiences, thus contributing to the future developments of urban agriculture and urban resilience in both continents. The impact measurement during and especially beyond the project period is a key component in the project’s design. Information and results obtained from the project will be disseminated through diverse communication and dissemination tools including, social media, an innovative app enhancing urban codesign, stakeholder conferences, hand-on training workshops, showcase demonstration forums, municipality events. A sustainable business model allowing SiEUGreen to live beyond the project period is planned by joining forces of private investors, governmental policy makers, communities of citizens, academia and technology providers.

The plan for the IPV part of SiEUGreen is to use Centre for Climate Regulated Plant Growth (SKP) at NMBU for controlled experiments and the case study site in the previous hospital in Fredrikstad, Norway to demonstrate plants growing in alternative growth media (available commercially and produced in the project) on the balconies, roof top and in the community gardens on the ground. We will use food plants (vegetables, fruits and berries) to validate the quality of the growth media. The PhD candidate will use various molecular techniques, nutritional analysis of the products and methods to evaluate the growth media’s physical properties.

Main tasks

Aims of the PhD project:

The main objective of this PhD project is to gain new knowledge on sustainable and circular urban farming systems in collaboration with the scientists producing compost and fertilizers.


  • To understand and test physical and microbial properties of growth media
  • Study nutrient content and -availability in growth media and the need for fertilization for optimal plant growth (together with post doc in the project)
  • Examine the impact of microorganisms on nutrient availability of plant nutrients in growth media
  • Test plant growth in the various growth media in urban growing systems (e.g. vertical/roof top gardening), together with master students.
  • Analyse nutritional changes in products grown in growth media tested

The successful candidate is expected to submit a plan for the progress of the work towards a PhD degree during the first months of appointment, and to complete a PhD within the project period (end of 2021).

Academic qualifications

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master’s degree level. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies, and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description.

The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject.

Required academic qualifications

  • MSc degree within plant/horticulture/soil sciences
  • Plant physiology/plant development
  • Knowledge of general molecular techniques

Desired academic qualifications

  • Knowledge of nutritional analysis in plants/soil
  • Experience with growing plants
  • Some knowledge in bioinformatics and its software tools
  • Some knowledge of –omics technologies

Required personal skills

  • Ability for independent work displaying initiative and careful creative thought
  • Analytical academic approach to research questions
  • Hard-working, ambitious and accurate
  • Good communication skills
  • Socially adaptable
  • Goal oriented
  • Applicants must be proficient in English, both written and spoken
  • Applicants must master one of the Scandinavian languages, to be able to communicate with inhabitants of the case study in Norway and for teaching of under-graduates


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the ‘Apply for this job’ button above. This will route you to the University’s Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline: 1st December 2018


Applications should include (electronically) a letter of intent, curriculum vitae, full publication list, copies of degree certificates and transcripts of academic records (all certified), and a list of two persons who may act as references (with phone numbers and e-mail addresses). Publications should be included electronically within the application deadline. The relevant NMBU Department may require further documentation, e.g. proof of English proficiency.

If it is difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution for publications with multiple authors, a short description of the applicant’s contribution must be included.




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