PhD position within water treatment in recirculating aquaculture systems

Deadline: 29.02.2024

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

NMBU will contribute to securing the future of life through outstanding research, education, communication and innovation. We have the country's most satisfied university students, who receive research-based education in a unique student environment. Our graduates gain a high level of competence in interdisciplinary collaboration and are popular in the labor market. NMBU has internationally leading research environments in several subjects. Together with our partners in society and business, we contribute to solving some of the biggest societal challenges of our time.

We focus on innovation, communication and entrepreneurship because we believe these challenges are best solved with joint efforts. We believe that a good working environment is characterized by diversity.

If necessary, workplace adaptations will be made for persons with disabilities. More information about NMBU is available at www.nmbu.no/en

About The Faculty of Science and Technology

The Faculty of Science and Technology (REALTEK) develops research-based knowledge and educates civil engineers and lecturers needed to reach the UN's sustainability goals. We have approximately 150 employees, 70 PhD students and soon 1500 students. The education and research at REALTEK cover a broad spectrum of disciplines.

This includes data science, mechanics and process engineering, robotics, construction and architecture, industrial economics, environmental physics and renewable energy, geomatics, water and environmental engineering, applied mathematics as well as secondary school teacher education in natural sciences and use of natural resources such as in agriculture, forestry and aquaculture. The workplace is in Ås, 30 km from Oslo.

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About the position

A PhD position in water treatment in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) is available at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Technology Management at the Faculty of Science and Technology.

The PhD position is for a period of 3 years, or up to 4 years if teaching and other work duties are agreed.

RAS re-use water by having a sequence of water treatment units that clean the water. These systems play a key role in Atlantic salmon production in Norway but also worldwide, where currently most of the freshwater facilities use them to produce smolts. However, the robustness of smolts produced in these systems can often be suboptimal. Rearing water quality in RAS has been pointed out as a possible cause for it. It is thus urgent to improve water quality by optimizing existing water treatment units.

The goal of this PhD project is to identify and optimize a RAS water treatment unit by i) determine a water treatment technology with potential for development, ii) characterize the existing situation in the field, i.e., in commercial scale RAS, iii) design and conduct several laboratory experimental tests addressing multi-variables, and iv) test the modified water treatment technology unit in a large-scale RAS. This project is done in collaboration with Mowi, the world largest producer of Atlantic salmon.

Results from previous research projects and discussions with key industry stakeholders, have narrowed key areas of interest for improvement to:

  • Solids removal unit
  • Biological filtration unit
  • Disinfection technologies
  • Accumulation of substance in RAS

Depending on the successful candidate background, i.e., Aquaculture, Engineering, Biotechnology, (Bio)chemistry, the above areas of interest will be narrow down to one and it will further expand in a relevant and feasible research plan.

The person appointed will be affiliated with the University’s organized research training. The academic work is to result in a doctoral thesis that will be defended at the University with a view to obtaining the degree of PhD.

The successful candidate is expected to join the existing research milieu or network and contribute to its development. Read more about the doctoral degree.

Main tasks

Description of tasks or PhD project:

  • Conducting scientific research within water treatment in Atlantic salmon RAS at an internationally respected level.
  • Define the research problem, hypothesis, and experimental design.
  • Independently plan and conduct both field and laboratory experiments.
  • Collect and analyze samples, including a water quality.
  • Analyze, evaluate, and interpret data and results.
  • Prepare reports of the results as manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals
  • Presenting results at national and international conferences

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.


Required qualifications:

  • A Master's degree or equivalent in in the field of Aquaculture, Engineering, Biotechnology, (Bio)chemistry or related. Foreign degrees must correspond with the admission criteria for the PhD program. Candidates submitting MSs thesis within 31. Mai 2024 may be considered.
  • A valid driving license (passenger car - B) in Norway. Driving to commercial RAS sites for sample collection is expected.
  • Proficiency in both written and oral English in correspondence with the admission criteria for the PhD program.
  • Personal suitability and motivation for the position.

The following experiences and skills will be emphasized:

  • Good understanding on the field of research, i.e., water quality in Atlantic salmon RAS and its relationship with water treatment technologies. Selected candidates will be required to give a presentation on how to address a RAS related knowledge gap, as a part of the recruitment process.
  • Strong skills in water treatment technology
  • Knowledgeable on water quality analysis
  • Experience in data analysis and using statistical analysis tools

Personal qualities:

  • Good collaboration skills and an ability to join interdisciplinary academic communities
  • Good ability to work independently and conduct field work
  • Accurate and patient with laboratory experimental work
  • Strong communication skills, both written and oral English

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description.

Remuneration and further information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD. Fellow. PhD. Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 532200 NOK per annum) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations. For exceptionally well qualified candidates a higher salary may be considered.

Formal regulations

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) at the Norwegian University of Life Science (NMBU).

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NMBU.

Contact information:

  • Associate Professor Vasco C. Mota (main supervisor), Department of Mechanical Engineering and Technology Management, E-mail: vasco.mota@nmbu.no; phone +47 46954659 (do not use this e-mail for application, it is only for questions).
  • Associate Professor Odd-Ivar Lekang (co-supervisor), Department of Mechanical Engineering and Technology Management, E-mail: odd-ivar.lekang@nmbu.no; phone +47 95876609 (do not use this e-mail for application, it is only for questions).

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: 29.02.2024

Your CV must be entered in JobbNorge's CV form and not just included as an attachment. This is to be able to comply with the regulations of §15 of the Public Administration Act.

In the application, the candidate must confirm that information and documentation (in the form of attachments) submitted via the job application can also be used by NMBU in a possible admission process.

Applicants invited for an interview are expected to present original diplomas and certificates.

The following documents must be attached to the application:

  • Motivation letter (maximum 1 page)
  • Complete CV 
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and certificates. (i.e. Di-ploma, transcript. Diploma supplement for both bachelor and master). Diplomas, transcripts and diploma supplements that are not in Norwegian or English must be uploaded in the original language. An English translation of these documents must also be attached.
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement, or a similar document, which describes in detail the study program and grading system.
  • Documentation of proficiency in written and oral English in accordance with NMBU PhD regulation section 5-2 (3)
  • Names and contact details for two references
  • Additional relevant documentation of professional knowledge (for example, list of scientific works). 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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