PhD Scholarship in Environmental Science Focusing on High Resolution Mass Spectrometry and Combustion Ion Chromatography

Applications are invited for a PhD position in environmental sciences to join Stockholm University, Sweden. The initial contract for this position is four years. Applications are welcome before February 15, 2019.

The department has about 220 employees of which about 60 are PhD students. Research study programs are offered in environmental science, analytical chemistry and environmental chemistry and courses are given in environmental science and analytical chemistry.

Project description

The position will be associated with the Swedish Research Council Formas-funded project The organohalogen compound iceberg. Chemicals found in sewage sludge are a mirror of chemical use in society. Up to 100 000 chemicals are on the market in Europe. One problematic group are the organohalogen compounds (OHCs) containing chlorine, bromine, fluorine or iodine. Some are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic and have been banned. However, multiple new OHCs have been introduced as replacements, faster than targeted analytical methods can be developed to analyze them. The concept of the OHC 'iceberg' is that we are only measuring a fraction of total OHCs in a sample. Without knowing the total size of the iceberg, it is impossible to know how much is missed by targeted analysis. The aim of this PhD project is to characterize the total and known extractable OHCs entering (influent), retained by (sludge) and passing through (effluent) a sewage treatment plant (STP) using a combination of combustion ion chromatography (CIC) and targeted analytical approaches (for total and known OHCs, respectively). This paired methodology enables determination of the fraction of extracted OHCs not accounted for by known substances (the unseen part of the iceberg). Non-target suspect screening will then be used to identify, and when possible, quantify OHCs that make up the missing fraction. Novel OHCs will be further investigated in recipient water and fish collected near the outfall, and at sites upstream of the STP to evaluate their bioaccumulation potential, and identify potential sources (e.g. landfills, hospitals, urban run-off, households). Important components of the project include the development of CIC methodology for several organohalogen compound groups, use of trace analytical chemistry techniques, including high resolution (Orbitrap) GC-MS and LC-MS to quantify organofluorine, -bromine, -chlorine and -iodine compounds in the samples, and data-mining of mass fragments to identify and quantify unknown compounds.

Qualification requirements

To meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 credits must be in the second cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere. In order to meet the specific entry requirements, for doctoral studies in Environmental Science, at least 45 of the credits at the second cycle must be in chemistry including a 30 hp/HEC thesis project. A university degree in analytical or environmental chemistry, or a related field is desirable. Experience in mass spectrometry-based trace analysis of organic molecules, including halogenated compounds, would be an asset. Prior experience with combustion ion chromatography would be useful but is not mandatory. The applicant should also have 30 hp/HEC in other natural science subjects different from the major. A very good command of oral and written English is required.

The qualification requirements must be met by the deadline for applications.


The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on their ability to successfully pursue the research education. Special emphasis is put on the applicant's knowledge and skills within the subject area, ability to express her/himself verbally and in writing, analytical aptitude, creativity, initiative and independence, and a capacity for working together with others. The evaluation will be made based on the relevance of past education and experience, grades from previous university courses (in particular at the advanced level), the quality and ambition of the independent project work, references, a cover letter motivating the candidate's interest, and interviews. Short-listed candidates may be asked to provide a short writing sample in English.

Admission Regulations for Doctoral Studies at Stockholm University are available at: and regulations.

Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. The term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may be extended for a maximum of two years at a time. However, the total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study.

Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, research, and administration corresponding to a maximum of 20 % of a full-time position.

Please note that admission decisions cannot be appealed.

Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all.


For more information, please contact Professor Cynthia de Wit, telephone: +46 8674 71 80, or Associate professor Jonathan Benskin, telephone +46 76426 54 90, Application

Apply for the PhD student position at Stockholm University’s recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. Please include the following information with your application

and, in addition, please include the following documents


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