PhD research fellowship in Arctic Marine Biology

Deadline: 01.12.2020


UNIS is a state-owned limited company with five of Norway’s universities represented on the board. UNIS is located in a modern working environment in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, and is well equipped with both technical and scientific equipment and laboratories. The institution has an infrastructure for both marine and terrestrial field research in Svalbard.

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. 2200 inhabitants and has a good service offering including kindergartens, swimming / sports hall and a varied association, sports and cultural life.

The department of Arctic Biology at UNIS is seeking candidates for a full-time, 4-year position as a PhD fellow in Arctic Marine Biology. Currently the department constitutes 3 professors, 3 associate professors, 4 PhD students, 3 postdocs/researchers, 8 Adjunct Professors and 2 technical/administrative staff. The department conducts research and education in Arctic marine and terrestrial 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 marine biology, specifically in marine ecology and biodiversity in shallow coastal waters and fjord regions in Svalbard. The hired applicant is expected to develop a PhD project on biodiversity and resource mapping, e.g. fish, plankton, macroalgae, mainly in Isfjorden close to Longyearbyen. The work includes use of unmanned surface vehicle (USV), biosonar and other assessment methods in Arctic fjords and littoral zones. Seagoing field work under harsh conditions may be part of the research as well as short research visits with national and international collaborators.

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 one of the Norwegian mainland universities. The candidate will work with team members from UNIS and other Norwegian and international institutions. The PhD will be linked to the EU project FACE-IT, “The future of Arctic coastal ecosystems – Identifying transitions in fjord systems and adjacent coastal areas” starting in Nov. 2020. The EU project aims to identify and quantify the key drivers and cascading effects on biodiversity caused by climate changes.

Qualifications and personal qualities

  • Applicants must hold a master’s degree or the equivalent in a relevant field, such as Marine Biology, or 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 be capable of carrying out field work, including participation on research cruises. Experience in marine polar field sampling is advantageous.
  • Technical skills and interests are advantageous.
  • Experience and skills in the use of resource mapping with multi-beam biosonar, and analyses of stock assessment data are strongly desirable.
  • Applicants with experience and skills in programming, including analytical and statistical methods are desirable.
  • Authorship or co-authorship of scientific publications is an advantage.
  • Prior work experience in an interdisciplinary research team setting is beneficial, as is teaching experience.
  • Applicants must be able to work independently and in a structured manner, yet function well within a team.
  • 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 4 years, of which 25% comprises duty work at UNIS. The employment potentially includes some supervision duties of master students.

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 479 200 annually. As a Svalbard resident an annual allowance of NOK 34 560 (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 a Norwegian university. A plan for the implementation of the research training must be approved by the faculty. The candidate is expected to complete relevant courses (30 ECTs) as part of the formal PhD training.

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.


Inquiries about this position may be directed to:

  • Supervisor Professor Børge Damsgård (UNIS), phone: +47 93003314, email: [email protected],
  • Ass. Prof. Janne Søreide (UNIS), phone: +47 79023355, email: [email protected], or to the
  • Head of Department Ass. Prof. Anna Vader (UNIS), phone: +47 79023359, 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.

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