PhD Fellow in Arctic Microbial Ecology and Eco-physiology

Deadline: 20.06.2024

UiT The Arctic University of Norway

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is a multi-campus research university and the northernmost university of the world. Our central location in the High North, our broad and diverse research and study portfolio, and our interdisciplinary qualities make us uniquely suited to meet the challenges of the future. At UiT you can explore global issues from a close-up perspective.

Credibility, academic freedom, closeness, creativity and commitment shall be hallmarks of the relationship between our employees, between our employees and our students and between UiT and our partners. The Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics (BFE) consists of Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Norwegian College of Fishery Science (NFH) and School of Business and Economics.

The main task of BFE is to conduct teaching and research dissemination at a high national and international level within all relevant fields. Prioritized research areas are aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, climate, life in the arctic, marine bioprospecting, fish health, seafood products, business and macroeconomics, resources and environment, markets and management of marine resources. The interdisciplinary profile of the faculty provides good opportunity to develop research projects involving several research groups at the faculty according to its strategy.

Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics

The position

The Department of Arctic and Marine Biology (AMB), Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics (BFE) at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway seeks a highly motivated PhD fellow in Microbiology, specializing on Arctic microbial ecology and eco-physiology in the context of climate change.

The Department of Arctic and Marine Biology (AMB) includes 6 research groups. Research and teaching at AMB has a broad span, from molecular mechanisms at cellular/subcellular levels via studies of adaptations at the organismal level, to ecological interactions in aquatic and terrestrial environments, including socioecological systems and sustainability science. The department is an exciting and cutting-edge academic and research unit in biology that addresses challenges in basic research, industrial and administrative-oriented research with a strong focus on the North. The department has extensive national and international research collaboration including regional institutions like Framsenteret, IMR and NIBIO.

The position is affiliated with the Cells in the Cold Laboratory (CECO), which is part of the AMB research group Microorganisms and Plants (MP). The position will be associated with the research project “SHRINK – Is Global Warming Shrinking Soil Microorganisms?” (subtitle: “Causes and Consequences of Microbial Physiological Adjustments to Changing Temperatures”), funded by the Research Council of Norway for 2024 – 2028.

SHRINK is a collaborative project, led by UiT, between UiT, the University of Vienna, Austria, the University of Greifswald, Germany, and the Agricultural University of Iceland, Iceland. The prospective candidate will work with researchers from this international project group and from CECO to improve our understanding of how warming effects microbial physiologies and how physiological warming responses modulate greenhouse gas emissions from soils, to contribute to the knowledge needed to better understand, predict, and manage soil-climate feedbacks in a warmer future – our future. Supervision will be offered from UiT, with co-supervision by researchers from the University of Vienna.

The position is for a period of four years. The nominal length of the PhD program is three years. The fourth year is distributed as 25 % each year and will consist of teaching and other duties. The objective of the position is to complete research training to the level of a doctoral degree. Admission to a PhD program is a prerequisite for employment, and the program period starts on commencement of the position. The PhD candidate shall participate in the faculty’s organized research training, and the PhD project shall be completed during the period of employment.

The workplace is at UiT in Tromsø. You must be able to start in the position within a reasonable time and no later than November 1st, 2024 (minor deviations may be negotiable).

The project

Terrestrial ecosystems have a carbon efflux of ~120 Gt C per year, of which ~50 % is attributed to soil microbial respiration (i.e., microbial-derived CO2 emissions from soil). More than a decade ago, it was proposed that projections of soil-CO2-climate feedbacks, as included in Earth system models, would be considerably improved by integrating microbial processes and underlying microbial physiologies. However, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report Climate Change and Land (2019) has since emphasised that “soil microbial processes influencing nutrient and carbon dynamics represent a large source of uncertainty in projecting land–climate interactions” and, particularly, “large uncertainty remains for thermal responses of bacteria and other soil organisms”.

SHRINK is based on our recent discovery that soil microorganisms exposed to warming reduce their cellular numbers of ribosomes (Söllinger et al. 2022), their “protein production factories”. This implies extensive cellular resource re-allocations which could lead to large changes and increases in greenhouse gas emissions from soils (including CO2, methane (CH4), and other greenhouse gases), which is a major concern, especially in the Arctic where large amounts of carbon are stored in soils.

Major aims of SHRINK are therefore:

(i) to reveal the molecular basis of ribosome reduction,(ii) to uncover the effects of this key physiological mechanism on microbial cells, and(iii) to assess implications for soil ecosystems and microbial-derived greenhouse emissions.

The candidate will employ a combination of sequencing-based methods and next-generation physiology approaches and will perform field work and laboratory experiments to test the effects of temperature change on microbial cells and complex microbial communities using microcosms and bioreactor-based temperature incubation time series of arctic and sub-arctic soils/microorganisms. The project is an opportunity for a strong candidate to contribute to the development of quantitative approaches that lead to an improved understanding of how microbial physiologies influence, modulate, and control ecosystem-climate feedbacks in a changing world. The candidate will acquire state-of-the art competence in microbial ecology, eco-physiology, and climate change microbiology, and will thereby become eminently equipped for a carrier in research and/or management in these disciplines. The research plan for the PhD will be shaped as a collaborative effort between the candidate and the supervisors at UiT.


For further information about the position, please contact:


Required qualifications: 

  • A master’s degree or equivalent in one of the following disciplines: Microbiology, Microbial Ecology, Environmental Microbiology, Molecular Biology, and/or a relevant branch of biological/environmental sciences. Qualification with a master’s degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your master’s degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis and a statement from your supervisor or institution indicating when the degree will be obtained. You must still submit your transcript of grades for the master’s degree with your application.
  • The position will be part of an international project where the working language is English. Applicants must document fluency of in English. Nordic applicants can document their English capabilities by attaching their high school diploma.

Desired qualifications:

  • Arctic microbiology and/or soil (microbial) ecology
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from soils, microbial communities, and/or microbial cultures and their measurement
  • (Arctic) field work/soil sampling and/or laboratory experiments using microcosm and/or bioreactor systems
  • General lab work and molecular methods, including but not limited to: Nucleic acid extractions, RNA- and DNA-sequencing (amplicon sequencing, metagenomics, and metatranscriptomics; including library preparation), fluorescence in situ hybridisation and other labelling techniques targeting specific cellular complexes
  • Subjects within microbiology/microbial ecology/environmental sciences relevant for the project

In the assessment, the emphasis is on the applicant's potential to complete a research education based on the master's thesis or equivalent, and any other scientific work. In addition, other experience of significance for the completion of the doctoral programme may be given consideration.

We will also emphasize motivation and personal suitability for the position. 

We are looking for candidates who:

  • Have good collaboration and communication skills and are eager to work in an international project team
  • Want to contribute to a good working environment and scientific advancement
  • Show a strong motivation to work and live in Tromsø, at the gate to the Arctic, exposed to long, dark winters and short but bright summers

As many people as possible should have the opportunity to undertake organized research training. If you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, we will not appoint you to this position.

Admission to the PhD programme 

For employment in the PhD position, you must be qualified for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics and participate in organized doctoral studies within the employment period.

Admission normally requires:

  • A bachelor's degree of 180 ECTS and a master's degree of 120 ECTS, or an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS. 
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 30 ECTS for a master's degree of 120 ECTS. 
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 20 ECTS for an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS. 

UiT normally accepts higher education from countries that are part of the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

Grade requirements applies both to the master thesis as well as courses part of the master’s degree. The minimum requirements are grade C or better on the master’s degree, and grade C or better on courses that are part of the master’s degree. A grade lower than C in one course may be compensated by a higher grade than C in another course. If the applicant has two subjects with the grade D or lower, the applicant is not qualified for admission. A more detailed description of admission requirements can be found here.

Applicants with a foreign education will be subjected to an evaluation of whether the educational background is equal to Norwegian higher education, following national guidelines from NOKUT. Depending on which country the education is from, one or two additional years of university education may be required to fulfil admission requirements, e.g. a 4-year bachelor's degree and a 2-year master's degree. 

If you are employed in the position, you will be provisionally admitted to the PhD programme. Application for final admission must be submitted no later than six weeks after taking up the position. 

Inclusion and diversity

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is working actively to promote equality, gender balance and diversity among employees and students, and to create an inclusive and safe working environment. We believe that inclusion and diversity are a strength, and we want employees with different competencies, professional experience, life experience and perspectives.

If you have a disability, a gap in your CV or immigrant background, we encourage you to tick the box for this in your application. If there are qualified applicants, we invite at least one in each group for an interview. If you get the job, we will adapt the working conditions if you need it. Apart from selecting the right candidates, we will only use the information for anonymous statistics.

We offer

  • Involvement in an interesting research project 
  • Good career opportunities 
  • A good academic environment with dedicated colleagues
  • Flexible working hours and a state collective pay agreement
  • Pension scheme through the state pension fund 
  • PhD Fellows are normally given a salary of 532 200 NOK/year with a 3% yearly increase

Norwegian health policy aims to ensure that everyone, irrespective of their personal finances and where they live, has access to good health and care services of equal standard. As an employee you will become member of the National Insurance Scheme which also include health care services.

More practical information about working and living in Norway can be found here.


Your application must include: 

  • Cover letter explaining your motivation and research interests relevant for the position (max. 2 pages; the cover letter needs to be in English)
  • CV
  • Diploma for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Transcript of grades/academic record for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Explanation of the grading system for foreign education (Diploma Supplement if available)
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • 2-3 references with contact information
  • Master’s thesis
  • Other academic work (published or unpublished) to be considered (including papers, conference abstracts, and such; if included, a short statement about the personal contribution should be included)

Qualification with a master’s degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your master’s degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis and a statement from your supervisor or institution indicating when the degree will be obtained. You must still submit your transcript of grades for the master’s degree with your application.

All documentation to be considered must be in a Scandinavian language or English. Diplomas and transcripts must also be submitted in the original language, if not in English or Scandinavian. If English proficiency is not documented in the application, it must be documented before starting in the position. We only accept applications and documentation sent via Jobbnorge within the application deadline. 

General information 

The appointment is made in accordance with State regulations and guidelines at UiT. At our website, you will find more information for applicants

Remuneration for the position of PhD Fellow is in accordance with the State salary scale code 1017. A compulsory contribution of 2 % to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund will be deducted. You will become a member of the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, which gives you many benefits in addition to a lifelong pension: You may be entitled to financial support if you become ill or disabled, your family may be entitled to financial support when you die, you become insured against occupational injury or occupational disease, and you can get good terms on a mortgage. Read more about your employee benefits at: spk.no.

A shorter period of appointment may be decided when the PhD Fellow has already completed parts of their research training programme or when the appointment is based on a previous qualifying position PhD Fellow, research assistant, or the like in such a way that the total time used for research training amounts to three years. 

In Finnmark County there is an arrangement which allows you to have parts of your loan at the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund remitted. 

We process personal data given in an application or CV in accordance with the Personal Data Act (Offentleglova). According to the Personal Data Act information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure. You will receive advance notification in the event of such publication, if you have requested non-disclosure. 

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