The Danish Center for HADAL Research of Nordcee/Department of Biology at University of Southern Denmark seeks applicants for a three-year PhD position. The aim is to investigate the dynamics of microbial processes, with a focus on mineralization of organic matter in the sediments of the hadal zone – the deepest oceanic realm (6000 – 11,000 m of depth). This project is inspired by the recent discovery of hadal sediments as hotspots of microbial diversity and activity despite exposure to extreme hydrostatic pressure. The findings indicate a high potential for nitrogen-, sulphur-, and iron-related metabolisms involved in the mineralization of organic matter that, to date, are largely unexplored at hadal depths.

This PhD will focus on open questions related to the recent discoveries, e.g. 1) What are the pathways and rates of aerobic and anaerobic respiration in hadal sediments? 2) To what extent do these processes vary within and across different hadal trenches? 3) Which roles does high hydrostatic pressure play in regulating (e.g. inhibiting or stimulating) different types of microbial respiration? The questions will be addressed in synergy with another incoming PhD student studying enzymes involved in organic matter degradation in the deep sea.

The PhD student will explore these open questions experimentally using a combination of lab and field work, including oceanic research cruises. The student will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for microbiological, biogeochemical, molecular, and high-pressure work. This includes quantification of microbial respiration using novel sensor technologies and stable and radio isotope tracer incubations both in in the laboratory and directly at great depth, microscopy, flow cytometry, high pressure vessels and samplers, and bioinformatics with amplicon and/or meta-omics data.

Experience with any of these technologies is preferred but not necessarily required. The ideal candidate has strong analytical skills, an aptitude for work at sea onboard research vessels, and the ability to work independently in coordination with an open and dynamic team. A background in microbiology, biogeochemistry, marine science, environmental chemistry, or a related discipline is desired. Training on all required aspects will be provided at the centre.

The PhD student will join a vibrant, diverse, and international group of scientists in the HADAL Center, experience substantial independence in the development and execution of the project and has the opportunity to collaborate with a strong network of scientists both within and outside of Denmark. The HADAL Center is embedded within the Nordcee division of the Department of Biology, which collectively employs approx. 50 researchers, administrative staff, and graduate students. The Department of Biology at the University of Southern Denmark values diverse perspectives and identities, prioritizes the professional and personal growth and well-being of students and staff members, and strives to sustainably carry out scientific research with close societal involvement. 

The deadline to apply is 15 November 2021, with a flexible start date in early 2022. For questions or other inquiries, please contact Professor Ronnie Glud at

Application, salary etc.
Appointment as a PhD Research Fellow is for three years. Employment stops automatically at the end of the period. The holder of the scholarship is not allowed to have other paid employment during the three-year period.

The successful applicant will be employed in accordance with the agreement on salaried PhD scholars between the Ministry of Finance and AC (the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations). Please check links for more information on salary and taxation.

The successful candidate will be enrolled at this university in accordance with faculty regulations and the Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities (PhD order).

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Application must be made in the form of a Declaration of Interest including the following:
• A research proposal/description of your approach to the above project (max one page excluding references)
• A letter stating your specific interest, motivation and qualifications for the project in question (max. two pages) (please attach this under box “Application form”)
• Detailed CV, including personal contact information
• Copies of diplomas, Bachelor as well as Master’s degree, including transcript of notes/grades
• At least two signed reference letters. Should your referees wish to send their letters directly to us, please have them use e-mail: mentioning your name and the title of the position in the subject line. And please note that these also need to reach us before deadline.

Shortlisting may be used in the assessment process.

Further information about the PhD-study can be found at the homepage of the University.

Applications must be submitted electronically using the link “Apply online”. Attached files must be in Adobe PDF or Word format. Each box can only contain a single file of max. 10 Mb. We strongly recommend that you read How to apply before you apply.

Incomplete applications and applications received after the deadline will neither be considered nor evaluated. This also applies to reference letters.

Further information for international applicants about entering and working in Denmark.

Send application
Deadline 2021-Nov-15

You can apply for the job at Faculty of Science by completing the application form


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