PhD in Biology Microplastics in Soils at Lund University

Lund University, Sweden has an opening PhD position in environmental sciences. This position is available for four years. Applications are invited up to November 30, 2018.

The Faculty of Science conducts research and education within Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Geosciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Environmental Sciences. The Faculty is organized into nine departments, gathered in the northern campus area. The Faculty has approximately 1500 students, 330 PhD students and 700 employees.

Contamination of aquatic environments by plastics has been recognized as a very urgent problem for many years, but much less focus has been placed on the impact of plastic contamination on the terrestrial ecosystems. Initial monitoring efforts have led to the prediction that terrestrial ecosystems receive even more plastic contaminations than limnic or marine systems, however, so far very little is known about which effects plastics have on soil ecosystems.

In this project, the candidate will investigate the effects, and the mechanisms behind, of different types of plastic particles on soil microbiota's behavior and survival, their community composition and their ecosystem services. For this, we will use a tool recently developed in the lab, a soilchip based on microfluidic techniques, which allows us to imitate soil microstructures as part of our experimental designs, and to perform direct microscopic analysis of organisms and processes. The candidate will measure the influence of different types of microplastics on the abundance of different microbial groups, their behavior, dispersal and certain ecosystem functions, under different environmental conditions. We will use quantitative fluorescence microscopy techniques on both lab culture and field sample analyses. The implications of potential effects of microplastics on soil ecosystems for future monitoring soil quality and environmental risk assessment will be elucidated.

The project is clearly interdisciplinary and we thus search for a dedicated, creative person open for working with cross-disciplinary new ideas and strategies who enjoys communication with society and stakeholders.

The PhD student will be accepted to the PhD program in Environmental Sciences but will be employed and perform her/his work at the Department of Biology.

The PhD student will investigate the effects, and the mechanisms behind, of different types of microplastic particles on soil microbiota's behavior and survival, their community composition and their ecosystem services. This includes design and fabrication of soil chips, conduction of experiments, microscopy, image- and data analysis, data interpretation and visualization, putting the results to a wider context such as environmental risk analysis, writing of scientific articles and publication in international journals. Communication with societal interest agencies and stake holders about the project and results should also be part of duties.

The applicant should hold a master's degree in biology/chemistry/environmental science or equivalent relevant topic, alternatively in engineering sciences with specialization in microfluidics or other relevant subtopic; a specialization in soil/ environmental microbiology or other relevant subtopic meriting. Interest and curiosity in the other discipline and willingness to learn it is a must, experience is a merit. Experience of interactions with societal interest agencies or stakeholders is a merit.

The candidate must be capable of independent planning, execution and evaluation of experiments, and be must be able to function well in the lab group. The candidate needs to enjoy lab work, microscopy, problem solving and data analysis, and needs to be flexible with working hours during occasional workload peaks.

Experience in at least two of the following qualifications is a requirement, all are merits.

- Knowledge in chemistry/ecotoxicity

- Knowledge in environmental risk assessment

- Experience in sterile lab work and handling of bacterial and/or fungal cultures

- Experience in field work

- Experience in designing in AutoCAD

- Experience in production of microfludic masters and chips in PDMS

- Experience in automated microscopy imaging

- Experience in fluorescence microscopy

- Experience in scientific image analysis

- Experience with the softwares NIS package, ImageJ, or equivalent

- Experience with the softwares Adobe Illustration.


Students with basic eligibility for third-cycle studies are those who- have completed a second-cycle degree- have completed courses of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are from second-cycle courses, or- have acquired largely equivalent knowledge in some other way, in Sweden or abroad.

The employment of doctoral students is regulated in the Swedish Code of Statues 1998: 80. Only those who are or have been admitted to PhD-studies may be appointed to doctoral studentships. When an appointment to a doctoral studentship is made, the ability of the student to benefit from PhD-studies shall primarily be taken into account. In addition to devoting themselves to their studies, those appointed to doctoral studentships may be required to work with educational tasks, research and administration, in accordance with specific regulations in the ordinance.

Type of employment

Limit of tenure, four years according to HF 5 kap 7.


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