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PhD position in ecology - Seasonality of arctic plant-soil-microbe interactions

Institutionen för ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap




  • Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
  • Extent 100%
  • Place Umeå

The Department of Ecology and Environmental Science (Umeå University, Sweden) invites applicants for a PhD position on seasonal dynamics of plant-soil-microbe interactions in Arctic ecosystems, based at the Climate Impacts Research Centre in Abisko, north Sweden. Start date will be according to agreement. Application deadline is September 16, 2019.

Project description
Arctic ecosystems store large amounts of organic carbon in plants and soil. Changes in their carbon uptake and release can therefore cause strong feedbacks to our climate. Uptake of carbon by arctic plants is strongly limited by their access to nutrients, especially nitrogen, due to competition by microbes. Climate change can alter the interactions between plants and microbes, and can therefore alter nitrogen and carbon cycles in arctic ecosystems. In the Arctic, climate change is especially pronounced during autumn, winter and spring, but their impacts on plant-soil-microbe interactions remain unclear. The aim of this PhD-position is to investigate the year-round seasonal dynamics of interactions for nitrogen between arctic plants and microbes, and how these change with altered winter, spring and autumn climate.

The project will focus on drivers of variation and therefore combine field measurements with more controlled common-garden mesocosm and laboratory experiments. We will use techniques from plant ecology, soil microbiology, and biogeochemistry, including isotope-based techniques. The experimental field- and lab-work will be performed in the subarctic/alpine tundra and at the research facilities of the Climate Impacts Research Centre in Abisko (north Sweden). The PhD-project is part of a larger project, and you will therefore collaborate with other researchers.

The position is financed by the Swedish Research Council (VR) and Umeå University. The main supervisor will be Dr. Ellen Dorrepaal.

Admission requirements
We are looking for a person with field experience and interest in plant-soil-microbe interactions in arctic terrestrial ecosystems. The candidate should have an academic background in Ecology or from similar fields.

The recruitment procedure for the position is in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance (Högskoleförordningen Chapter 5 and 7). Prerequisites include 240 ECTS credits (Swe. högskolepoäng) of higher education studies, of which 60 should be on an advanced level (Master level), or equivalent competence. Education should include 120 ECTS credits (2 years) subject relevant to ecology, at least one advanced course in a subject that is central to the doctoral student's planned specialization, and a 15 ECTS credits independent project in ecology or a similar relevant field. The requirements should be met at the time of acceptance to doctoral studies.

Additional requirements for this position are good knowledge of plant-soil interactions and demonstrated experience with ecological fieldwork. Strong merits are knowledge of arctic terrestrial ecosystems, experience in the use of stable isotopes and statistics, experience with outdoor activities under arctic winter conditions, and a driving license for cars.

The successful applicant should have good ability to write and speak in English, creativity, power of initiative, independence, interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate.

Evaluations will be based on the application, references and on interviews.

Terms of employment
The employment is expected to result in a doctoral degree and the main assignment for the doctoral student is thus to be part of the research education, which includes participation in the described research project but also to take relevant courses. Teaching and other departmental work (up to a maximum of 20%) can be included. The employment is limited to four years at full time or up to five years if teaching and other departmental work is performed. The salary is fixed according to the established salary level for doctoral students.

How to apply
You apply through our recruitment system on September 16, 2019 at the latest. The application, written in English or Swedish, should include:

1. A short (max 2 pages) description of why you are interested in and suitable for the position
2. CV
3. Copy of certificates from higher education
4. List of completed university courses and the grades
5. Copy of degree thesis and possibly other scientific publications
6. Names and contact information of three reference persons

The documents should be in MS Word or PDF-format.

If you have questions regarding the position, please contact Ellen Dorrepaal,

The Department of Ecology and Environmental Science ( carries out research and postgraduate education in ecology, environmental science and physical geography. The department has about 130 employees, about 30 of whom are PhD-students. The Climate Impacts Research Centre (CIRC) is part of the Department and undertakes research in how climate and environmental changes affect the ecosystems of the north. CIRC is stationed year-round in Abisko, Kiruna municipality. For further information, see


According to agreement


Ellen Dorrepaal

090-786 53 21

Registration number

AN 2.2.1-1126-19


Monthly salary




Umeå University wants to offer an equal environment where open dialogue between people with different backgrounds and perspectives lay the foundation for learning, creativity and development. We welcome people with different backgrounds and experiences to apply for the current employment.