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PhD scholarship within Ecology / Radioecology: Chernobyl Arthropods

Deadline: 27.02.2020

Are you interested in studying the insects of Chernobyl?

About the position

Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA) at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant 3-year PhD–position in Radioecology.

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

NMBU has a special responsibility for research and education that ensures the basis of life for future generations.

Sustainability is rooted in everything we do and we provide knowledge for life.

NMBU has 1700 employees and 5200 students and is organized in seven faculties. NMBU has a campus in Ås and in Oslo. In the autumn of 2020 we are co-located on Ås. Further information on NMBU is available at www.nmbu.no.

About MINA

The Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA) works with nature and the environment, sustainable use of natural resources, biological and geological processes.

MINA’s employees undertake teaching, research and dissemination within the fields of geology, hydrology and limnology, soil science, environmental chemistry, forestry, ecology, natural resource management, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism.

Our vision is to be a key actor in knowledge production and dissemination, and our goal is to deliver research of high, international quality, and varied and excellent teaching. The faculty’s employees are significant participants within their respective fields of expertise, both nationally and internationally.
The faculty is dominated by a vital research culture and high levels of scientific production.

The faculty has about 200 employees, 90 PhD students and 650 students.

Read more about MINA here

The successful PhD candidate will join a team with over 30 years experience studying the environmental impacts of the Chernobyl accident and other sources of radioactivity. The PhD research will be part of a joint project between the Entomology group at MINA and the CERAD Centre of Excellence for Environmental Radioactivity. The position will involve fieldwork and collaboration with institutions in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, as well as other international experts. The overall objective of the project is to increase understanding of the role of insects and arthropods in the transfer of radionuclides, as well as to investigate the potential impacts of ionising radiation on arthropod communities. Despite their recognised importance in ecosystem functioning, studies of arthropods in Chernobyl are severely lacking.

The CERAD Centre of Excellence for Environmental Radioactivity Chemistry was established in 2013 at NMBU in collaboration with the

Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, the Meteorological Institute, the National Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Institute of Water Research, and is funded until 2022 by the Research Council of Norway.

CERAD has initiated long term basic research to improve the ability to accurately assess the radiological impact and risks from environmental Radioactivity.

Read more about CERAD here.

Main tasks

The project will build on previous work from MINA, documenting arthropod communities at Chernobyl. The group has a collection of insects and arthropods from the Chernobyl exclusion zone and other sites in Ukraine, and has analyzed radiocaesium in different functional groups (detrivores, herbivores, predators, etc).

The PhD student’s tasks will include:

  • Fieldwork studies to supplement previous campaigns, with a particular focus on the role of arthropods in deadwood decomposition
  • Carry out wood transplant experiments between different radiation zones in Chernobyl to test the effect of arthropod communities and radiation exposure on the decomposition process
  • Analysis of samples for radionuclide concentrations
  • Stable element and isotope analysis to establish tropic level (N, C isotopes).
  • Collaboration with radioecologists studying the transfer of radionuclides in aquatic and terrestrial food chains, to identify the role of insects in radionuclide transfer.

The successful candidate is expected to enter a plan for the progress of the work towards a PhD degree during the first months of the appointment, with a view to completing a doctorate within the PhD scholarship period.

Qualification requirements, desired experiences, knowledge and personal qualities:

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master's degree level. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description.

The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject.

Required Academic qualifications

  • A background in either ecology or radioecology
  • Ability to perform extensive lab- and field work and statistical analyses

Preferred qualifications

  • Basic knowledge in insect taxonomy and a background in insect or forest ecology
  • Experience within nutrient or element transfer in ecosystems.
  • Fieldwork experience, working with stable isotopes and laboratory skills
  • Experience of working with radionuclides
  • Expertise in R or other statistical tools

Personal qualifications:

  • Strong scientific capacity and analytical skills
  • Enthusiasm and creativity in research
  • Good social and collaboration skills and ability to work independently
  • Ability to work in a result-oriented environment
  • Flexibility with respect to work tasks
  • Good capabilities in English, both orally and in writing
  • Creativity and ability to find solutions to practical problems

A driving license would be an advantage. The candidate will be expected to complete courses given at MINA to provide the authorisation to work with ionising radiation within six months of accepting the position.

Remuneration and information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD Fellow. PhD Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 479.600,-) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For further information, please contact:

Information for PhD applicants and general information to applicants


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline: 27.02.2020

Applications should include (electronically) a letter of intent, curriculum vitae, full publication list, copies of degree certificates and transcripts of academic records (all certified), and a list of two persons who may act as references (with phone numbers and e-mail addresses).

Publications should be included electronically within the application deadline. The relevant NMBU Department may require further documentation, e.g. proof of English proficiency.

Printed material which cannot be sent electronically should be sent by surface mail to the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA), P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, within 27.02.2020.

Please quote reference number 19/05740

If it is difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution for publications with multiple authors, a short description of the applicant’s contribution must be included.

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