PhD Research Fellow in climate change and plant-insect interactions on dwarf shrubs

Deadline: 02.10.2023

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

With about 17,500 students, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences is one of the largest higher education institutions in Norway. A broad range of academic programmes are offered at Bachelor, Master and PhD levels, spread out on five campuses Førde, Sogndal, Bergen, Stord og Haugesund.

Our ambition is to build stronger and more solid academic and research environments that will interact nationally and internationally. The aim is to become a recognized actor on the international higher education arena. Increased international cooperation and engagement in externally funded projects will work towards this goal.

The Faculty of Engineering and Science has approximately 370 employees and approximately 3,260 students. The faculty has a broad educational offer at both bachelor's and master's level in engineering and science, as well as PhD education in computer technology. The Mohns Center for Innovation and Regional Development researches innovation and offers master's education in innovation and entrepreneurship. The diving education offers a one-year vocational school education.

The main part of the faculty's activities are in Haugesund, Bergen, Sogndal and Førde, but we also offer decentralized education in Stord.

The faculty's activities are internationally based and take place in close collaboration with regional companies, clusters, health trusts and the public sector, including other institutions in the university and college sector. This applies to research, development, innovation and not least education with student projects at all levels.

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Engineering and Sciences has a vacancy for a PhD position in dwarf shrub ecology at campus Sogndal

This project aims to address gaps in understanding about how multiple climatic factors affect dwarf shrubs and their associated insects in differing ecosystem types. In particular, the research will combine experimental techniques to test the impact of drought and warming on plants and their insect herbivores and pollinators, with long-term data analysis and simulation modelling. The successful candidate will supplement data from two long-running field experiments in boreal and alpine forest clearings in Kaupanger, and coastal heathlands in Lygra, and develop their own methods in understanding the importance of plant-insect interactions in these systems.

A full project description will be detailed at the start of the PhD period, in close collaboration between the candidate and the supervisors.

Workplace is campus Sogndal.

Research environment:

The PhD research candidate will be part of the research group “Landscape, ecology and climate” at the Department of Environmental Sciences, HVL. The PhD is a 100 % temporary, three-year position, but may be extended to four years with an additional year of teaching duties at the department, depending on the qualifications, language skills, and interests of the applicant. The candidate is expected to apply for admission to the PhD-programme in biology at the University of Bergen where one of the co-supervisors are positioned.

We offer a stimulating, interdisciplinary academic environment, and a team of supervisors located both in Sogndal and Bergen. The position is located at HVL campus Sogndal, Norway, and physical presence of the successful candidate in Sogndal during the employment period is expected.

PhD research fellows receive an annual work expense funding which can be used for conference participation, research visits and equipment.


Applicants must have completed a master's degree (120 ECTS) in plant and/or insect ecology or similar fields.

The final grade of the master's thesis must be C or above. Candidates from other natural and environmental sciences holding a master's degree with a strong emphasis on ecology may also qualify. Applicants with an education from outside of Norway must include a certified translation in English (or a Scandinavian language) of their diploma(s) and transcript(s) of grades. Furthermore, applicants with an education from outside of Norway must include an assessment of their education from NOKUT, confirming that the applicant’s education corresponds in scope and level to a Norwegian master’s degree.

Applicants should also be able to document experience and training in ecological field work (preferably in boreal, alpine and/or coastal ecosystems), and have some experience of studying insects in the field or laboratory. Applicants must hold a full, clean driving lisence, and the ability to move and work independently in alpine terrain will be considered an advantage when candidates are ranked.

The candidate must also have knowledge of statistical analysis (preferably using R), and good communication skills in English, both written and oral, is mandatory. The candidate must be able to work independently, be flexible and self-motivated, and demonstrate good collaborative abilities.

The PhD candidate will be assigned two academic supervisors at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and the University of Bergen. An application for enrolment should first be submitted after an appointment is made and the supervisor(s) will help with this procedure. Normally, the final plan for admission to the PhD programme must be approved and signed no later than three months after appointment to the position.

Application procedure:

Applications will be evaluated by an expert panel of three members.

Applicants are asked to submit their application and CV online. Please use the link “Apply for this job” (“Søk stillingen”).

The following documentation should be uploaded as an attachment to the online application:

  • Master Thesis
  • a CV with a list of relevant courses, field experience and any academic publications
  • BSc and MSc transcripts with English translation (if degree not a Scandinavian laguage)
  • A one-page note (max 6000 characters) outlining the your research interests and how this position will help you in your academic career

The following qualities will be emphasized in applicant evaluated:

  • Quality and relevance of master's thesis and field experience
  • Competence in plant and/or insect ecology of alpine/boreal/coastal heathland ecosystems
  • Demonstrated ability to produce scientific reports, papers and conference contributions
  • Written and oral communication and presentation skills
  • Analytical skills, including statistical modelling and use of software

If the documents submitted are not in a Scandinavian language or in English, the applicants must submit certified translations of these. The transcripts must specify the topics, the course works, and the grades at the bachelor`s and master`s degree levels.

Applicants should note that the evaluation will be based on the documentation submitted electronically via Jobbnorge within the submission deadline. The applicants are responsible for ensuring that all the documentation is submitted before the closing date. It is of utmost importance that all documentation to be considered in the evaluation is uploaded as an attachment with the application, since these are sent electronically to the expert panel. Applications cannot be sent by e-mail or to individuals at HVL

Applicant whose education is from another country than Norway, need to also attach a certified translation of the diploma and transcript of grades to English or a Scandinavian language, if the original is not in any of these languages. It is required that the applicant enclose a review from NOKUT whether the education (bachelor and master’s degree) is of a scope and level that corresponds to the level of a Norwegian master’s degree. Please see www.nokut.no/en for more information about NOKUT’s general recognition. This may take some time and we recommend you to apply as soon as you know you will apply for this position. If no answer within the application deadline, please enclose documentation from NOKUT that they have received your application.


  • Good occupational pension, insurance and loan schemes from The Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • Exciting academic environment with the possibility of competence enhancement and development
  • Opportunities for training within the working hours 

Initial salaries will be offered at grade 54 (code 1017) in the Civil Service pay grade table scale.

There is a compulsory 2 % deduction to the pension fund (see  here for more information). The successful applicant must comply with the guidelines that apply to the position at any time.

General information:

The appointment will be made in accordance with the regulations for State employees Law in Norway ("Lov om statens ansatte)". Organizational changes and changes in the duties and responsibilities associated with the position must be expected.

State employment shall reflect the multiplicity of the population at large to the highest possible degree. Western Norway University of Applied Sciences has therefore adopted a personnel policy objective to ensure that we achieve a balanced age and gender composition and the recruitment of persons of various ethnic backgrounds.

Information about the applicant may be made public even though the applicant has requested not to be named in the list of applicants. The applicant will be notified if his/her request is not respected.

Short-listed applicants will be called in for an interview.

Employed on condition that you are granted a work and residence permit (must be considered individually).

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences is subjected to the regulation for export control system. The regulation might be applied in the processing of the applications.


1) Associate Professor Mark Gillespie email: markg@hvl.no

2) Professor Stein Joar Hegland email: steinjoh@hvl.no

3) Head of Department Tarald Seldal email: tarald.seldal@hvl.no

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