PhD research fellowship in Arctic Terrestrial Biology

Deadline: 07.02.2022


UNIS is the world's northernmost educational institution, located in Longyearbyen. UNIS has technical and scientific equipment, laboratories and infrastructure for teaching and research in Arctic natural science and technology for sea, land and atmosphere.

The disciplines include Arctic Biology, - Geophysics, - Geology and - Technology. All teaching is in English, and about half of the staff and students is from abroad. UNIS is a state-owned corporation. The administrative language is Norwegian.

Longyearbyen is located in Svalbard, in the midst of a varied and beautiful Arctic nature with good opportunities for outdoor activities. Longyearbyen is a modern town with approx. 2400 inhabitants and has a good service offering, swimming / sports hall and a varied association, sports and cultural life.

About the department

The department of Arctic Biology at UNIS is seeking candidates for a full-time, 3-year position as a PhD fellow in Arctic Terrestrial Biology. Currently the department constitutes 4 professors, 4 associate professors, 7 PhD students, 2 postdocs/researchers, 9 Adjunct Professors and 3 technical/administrative staff.

The department conducts research and education in Arctic terrestrial and marine biology, and currently provides 22 courses on bachelor, master and PhD level. The department focuses on an integrated approach to High Arctic biology, within the research topics Climate change biology, Seasonal ecology and Spatio-temporal dynamics of species and systems. Additional information about the department can be found at www.unis.no

Description of the vacant position

The advertised PhD position is in the field of terrestrial biology, focussing on the effects of a changing arctic on belowground fungal communities, and their repercussions on ecosystem functioning. The candidate will be part of TERRA, an interdisciplinary project financed by the Norwegian Research Council. Terra aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of the interactive effect of climate change during the cold season and increased goose herbivory pressure on permafrost thaw and cascading effects on microbial carbon and nitrogen cycling in the High Arctic.

The candidate will help establish and make use of an experiment manipulating climate and mimicking increased goose pressure.

The candidate is expected to take part in extensive field and lab periods, which require endurance and the ability to work systematically. A detailed project description will be made by the successful PhD candidate together with the advisors upon employment. Short research visits with national or international collaborators will be possible.

The PhD will be based at the Department of Arctic Biology at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), and the candidate will be admitted to a PhD program at the University in Bergen (UiB). Assoc. prof. Simone Lang (UNIS) will be the main supervisor with Prof. Lise Øvreås (UiO) acting as co-supervisor. The candidate will work closely with a PostDoc in TERRA, based at UiB. The candidate will further work with team members from other Norwegian and international institutions.

Qualifications and personal qualities

  • Applicants must hold a master's degree or the equivalent in a relevant topic, such as terrestrial ecology or similar, and must have submitted his/her master's thesis for assessment prior to the application deadline. It is a condition of employment that the master's degree has been awarded.
  • Applicants must have experience from terrestrial field work and be capable of conducting long field campaigns. Experience with field work in polar (alpine) regions is advantageous.
  • Applicants must have experience in either plant-mycorrhizal associations or plant identification.
  • Experience with 15N studies, plant-herbivore-soil interactions or terrestrial C and N cycling (i.e. decomposition studies) is an advantage.
  • Good floristic knowledge is an advantage.
  • Applicants must have experience and skills in basic lab, analytical and statistical methods. Knowledge of R is beneficial.
  • Technical skills are advantageous.
  • Authorship or co-authorship of scientific publications is an advantage.
  • Applicants must be able to work independently and in a structured manner and demonstrate good collaborative skills.
  • Applicants must be proficient in both written and oral English.

Strong motivation and personal suitability will be emphasized. To allow assessment of this, a statement of personal and scientific interest in taking a PhD degree, and a separate outline of a relevant PhD project idea (max 2 pages) must be included in the application.

Employment conditions

The total duration of the PhD position is 3 years. The candidate is expected to start in spring 2022.

All salaries are set in accordance with the Norwegian government's University salary scale. PhD fellow research fellows start at a gross salary of NOK 490 800 annually. As a Svalbard resident an annual allowance of NOK 36 720 (Svalbardtillegg) will be added to the salary. A Social Security contribution of 2 per cent, to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, will be deducted from the salary. Income tax on Svalbard is 8%, plus 8,2% toward National Insurance coverage. UNIS offers a membership in the Norwegian Public Pension Fund.

About the research training

The candidate must satisfy the enrolment requirements for the doctoral degree program at the University in Bergen (UiB). A plan for the implementation of the research training must be approved by the faculty. The candidate is expected to complete a coursework component of 30 ECTs as part of the formal PhD training.


Inquiries about this position may be directed to:

  • Supervisor Assoc. Professor Simone Lang (UNIS), phone: +47 77057501, email: [email protected],
  • Prof. Lise Øvreås (UiB, UNIS), phone: +47 55582675, email: [email protected], or to the
  • Head of Department Prof. Steve Coulson (UNIS), phone: +47 77057503, email: [email protected]

The application, submitted electronically in www.jobbnorge.no, must include:

  • Letter of motivation
  • Outline of possible PhD project (max 2 pages)
  • CV (including a complete overview of education, professional training and professional work)
  • Name and contact information for three referees
  • Transcripts and diplomas showing completion of the bachelor's and master's degrees, or official confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted
  • Relevant certificates/references
  • A list of any works of a scientific nature (publication list)
  • Any peer review publications you are an author or co-author on
  • A copy of the master thesis

The application and appendices with certified translations into English or a Scandinavian language must be uploaded in Jobbnorge.

You can request to have your application kept from public access cf. the open files act § 25. The request must be explained. UNIS will determine if the application will be kept from public access or not, based on the explanation and the regulations from the open files act. If the application will not be accepted, the candidate will be contacted.

Selection and appointment

A committee appointed by the Managing director of UNIS will evaluate the qualifications of the applicants, and invite the highest ranked person(s) for an interview. The appointment will be made by the Director of UNIS based on the recommendation from the committee.

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