PhD Scholarship in Arctic Community Ecology at University of Helsinki

A PhD scholarship in ecology is available at University of Helsinki. The initial contract for this position is four years. The deadline to apply is July 03, 2019.

The University of Helsinki has an international academic community of 40,000 students and staff members, and it offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities, and opportunities for professional development. The International Staff Services office ( assists employees from abroad with their transition to work and life in Finland.

The Department of Agricultural Sciences invites applications for a

in arctic community ecology for a fixed term of four years.

The position is part of Project VEGA: Vegetation dynamics of the Arctic, and the Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group ( The successful applicant will be part of the Research Centre for Ecological Change…) at the University of Helsinki.

The project, to be initiated in September 2019, aims to apply recent conceptual frameworks in community ecology to Arctic vegetation dynamics. By partitioning impacts on community structure into the four basic processes of selection, drift, speciation and dispersal, the doctoral student is expected to contribute to a novel synthesis of Arctic community dynamics. The project combines laboratory and field experiments with recent molecular techniques, and draws on joint species distribution modelling for uniting patterns and processes.

The PhD project will be broadly set, combining elements of phylogeographic reconstruction, comparisons of trans-arctic dispersal routes for plants and their associated taxa (see e.g. Tiusanen et al. 2019. Molecular Ecology, experimental assessments of dispersal through time (via the seedbank), and experiments aimed at quantifying competition or facilitation. We provide extant links to arctic field sites (through the INTERACT network,, data from pilot sampling, and access to all relevant facilities.

To these aims, we are looking for a highly motivated candidate with a strong interest in community ecology, and who is actively pursuing an academic career in ecology. As no applicant can be expected to master all elements from before, we put prime emphasis on documented enthusiasm towards scientific research, good numerical, writing and presentation skills, and an eagerness to learn. Meriting, but not required, are skills in empirical ecology, as is experience with data generated by DNA barcoding and with statistical analysis. (Whether this past experience relates to plants, animals or microbes does not matter.)

The candidate is expected to be capable and willing to take initiative and work independently as well as in a team. Extensive and sometimes demanding field periods away from home are to be expected, as are repetitive experiments under both laboratory and field conditions. Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English, and the ability to think independently and creatively are required.

As a team, we collaborate extensively with research groups at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University (Denmark), and University of Montana (USA), among others, and with research stations across the Arctic. The Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group itself is composed of twin teams in Helsinki, Finland, and Uppsala, Sweden. Altogether, the group consists of a dozen fellow researches and has a decade-long experience on working with Arctic ecosystems, as well as the necessary personnel and contacts to help with the practical, statistical and molecular aspect of the work. The group sustains several activities stimulating interchange of ideas, efficient supervision and peer support, and is used to both the vagaries of the Arctic climate and to applying DNA-based methods to ecological questions. Thus, the group offers a strong platform for the thesis in terms of logistics, experience and supervision.

During the thesis work the candidate will belong to one of the doctoral programmes (e.g. Doctoral Programme in Wildlife Biology Research; Finnish acronym LUOVA,…) of the Doctoral School in Environmental, Food and Biological Sciences (Finnish acronym YEB,…). The doctoral school and the doctoral programmes will provide support through the doctoral studies (40 ETCs) and offer useful courses in e.g. statistics, science communication, leadership and project management.

The starting date is flexible, with the optimal date being September 1, 2019.

The salary for the doctoral candidate position is based on levels 2-4 of the job requirement scheme for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee shall be paid a salary component based on personal work performance. Depending on the appointee's qualifications and experience, the salary is ca EUR 2200-3050 per month (starting salary EUR 2200-2400). The appointment starts with a probationary period of six months.

Please submit your application using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the Apply link. Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application via the SAP HR portal.

Please attach the following documents as a single pdf file: your CV with publications included and a letter (max 2 pages) with a description of your research interests and career plans and, in particular, why you would be a suitable candidate for the project. The application letter should also contain possible starting dates and contact information of two persons who can provide a reference letter based on request.

The deadline for submitting the application is July 3, 2018.

For more information, please contact Prof Tomas Roslin by email: tomas.roslin(at)

In case you need support with the recruitment system, please contact recruitment(at)


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