PhD Research Fellow in Ecology

Deadline: 15.03.2021

University of South-Eastern Norway

The University of South-Eastern Norway, USN, is one of Norway’s largest higher education institutions, with around 18,000 students and 1,900 employees across eight different campuses.

We offer studies, research and knowledge dissemination, all targeting various professions and working life and with a high level of quality internationally. Our goal as a University is to create value both for the individual student and for business and commerce, the public sector and society in general. We achieve this by utilising the best tools we have: education and research.

USN is a University with a strong social commitment where studies and working life are integrated. At USN, we focus on practice-relevant, profession-oriented and applied research and education.

The students shall benefit from innovative educational methods and challenging studies closely associated with society's requirements and needs. They will learn how to adapt to a society and working life that is constantly changing. The University shall meet major social challenges with knowledge and expertise, helping to promote practical solutions, structural changes and new ways of thinking. USN’s academic activities shall be embodied by a clear dedication to the UN’s sustainable development goals. The University aims to realise this main profile in close cooperation with society and working life.

For more information on USN, please go to www.usn.no

Faculty of Technology, Natural Sciences, and Maritime Sciences have a vacancy for a position as PhD Research Fellow in Ecology

About the position

The Faculty of Technology, Natural Sciences and Maritime Sciences has a vacancy for a 100% position as PhD Research Fellow in Ecology from 01.05.2021, or as soon as possible after this date.

The position is located at the Department of Natural Sciences and Environmental Health, and the immediate superior is the Head of the Department. The main work place is in Bø, in the Municipality of Midt-Telemark, Vestfold and Telemark County, Norway. The employmentperiod is 3 years without teaching oblications, or 4 years including 25% of teaching obligations. The period of employment is determined during the recruitment process. There is a premise for employment that the PhD Research Fellow is enrolled in USN’s PhD Programin Ecology within three months of accession in the position.

About the PhD-project

“Effects of climate and management on diet, stress and life history in brown bears”

The proposed PhD project is based on the long-term individual-based data set of the Scandinavian Brown Bear Project (SBBRP) as well as data sets created as part of two projects funded by the Norwegian Research Council and the European Comission, i.e.“BearConnect”(Functional connectivity and ecological sustainability of European ecological networks: a case study with the brown bear) and “GLOBE” (Global climate change and its impact on brown bear populations: Predicting trends and identifying management priorities).

The principal objective of the proposed project is to contribute towards a fundamental understanding of how the interactions between habitat, nutrition, fear and stress, hunting, and climatic change affect large mammal populations and their management. Research will be based on a long-term (1984-today) and individual-based (>800 individuals) data set of brown bears in Sweden. All physiological samples have already been collected, of which the majority already have been analyzed in the lab. No additional field work is needed, but it is recommended that the successful candidate spends a short period in the field to obtain a better understanding of the study area and system.

The following research questions are proposed:

  • Assessment of how the dietary compositionof bears, based on stable isotope analysis of hairs, changes in space and time in relation to climate and antropogenic effects.
  • Investigate the climate and human-induced factors affecting the spatio-temporal variation in patterns of long-term stress of individuals, measured as cortisol concentration in hairs.
  • Investigate if and how individual behavioral and physiological responses translate into spatio-temporal patterns of fitness and population dynamics.

Publication of research results in international peer-reviewed journals is expected.

The primary supervisor will be Prof. Andreas Zedrosser at USN, and the secondary supervisors will be Assoc. Prof. Øyvind Steifetten from USN, Assist. Prof. Agnieszka Sergiel from the Polish Academy of Sciences, and PhD Anne Hertel from Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Germany. Additional collaboration partners from the Polish Academy of Sciences or from within the frame work of the SBBRP will participate in the research activities. The applicant will be part of the research group Laboratory of Evolutionary and Behavioral Ecology at USN.


Applicants to the PhD position must have a Master’s degree (120 ECTS) or equivalent higher education qualifications in ecology or related areas. The degree must be accomplished before application deadline. It is a requirement that the successful candidate is granted admission to the USN’s PhD Program in Ecology within three months of accession in the position. For admission to the Program, the candidate must have a grade B (weighted average) or higher in his/her Master’s degree or equivalent higher education.

The successful candidate should have:

  • Qualifications in the field of ecology or other related areas, such as eco-physiology, behavioral ecology, landscape ecology, etc.
  • A very strong background in statistics, especially the ability to handle and analyze large spatio-temporal data, and the analysis of eco-physiological and/or stable isotope data. Use of the statistical platform R.
  • Good oral and written English skills.
  • The ability to work independently and at the same time have the motivation to share knowledge and take part in team work.
  • The willingness to cooperate with other PhD students, postdoctoral researcher and researchers in an international environment is essential. The candidate is expected to contribute to lab work, and should also be willing to spend a certain amount of the PhD period with collaboration partners abroad, for example at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Krakow, Poland, or the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, Germany.

An ideal candidate should be:

  • Creative
  • Analytical
  • Highly self-motivated
  • Possess good collaborative skills.

Demonstrable skills in the publications of scientific papers and experience in handling of biological samples and analysis of stable isotope and/or cortisol data is advantageous, but not required. The staff at the faculty work within subject teams to a large extent, and the candidate must be motivated to share his or her knowledge and cooperate.

Personal suitability for the position will be emphasized.

We offer

  • A stimulating and growing research environment, with good opportunities to develop your career and your academic skills
  • A good social environment
  • Attractive welfare benefits in the State Pension Plan
  • Opportunity for physical activities within working hours


PhD Research Fellow (code 1017): NOK 482 200 a year. Further promotion will be based on time served in the position.

A statutory contribution to the state pension plan will be deducted from the employee’s salary.

Other information

The Academic Appointments Board for PhD Research Fellowships is responsible for the appointment. An expert assessment of applicants will be carried out. The candidates deemed best qualified will be invited to an interview.

The person appointed must comply with the laws, regulations and agreements that apply at any given time to the post. Please note that approved work permit is a prerequisite for the employment.

According to its human resources policy, the University of South-Eastern Norway targets a balanced gender composition and aims to recruit persons with immigration background.

The University contributes to the Inkluderingsdugnaden (a voluntary scheme to promote inclusion), and it is our aim that our employees, to the fullest extent possible, shall reflect the diversity of the general population. We therefore encourage qualified applicants with disabilities to apply for the post. The University will facilitate the workplace for employees with disabilities.

Pursuant to section 25, 2nd paragraph of the Freedom of Information Act, information on the applicant may be disclosed even if the applicant has requested not be included on the list of applicants. Applicants will be notified if such requests are not allowed.

Contact information

For more information about the position, please contact:

For questions regarding the recruitment process, please contact: Head of Department Live Semb Vestgarden, [email protected] / +47-3595-2797

How to apply

The University of South-Eastern Norway makes use of online application management. Applicants to the post must register their application and CV with enclosures online via the Jobbnorge recruitment portal by clicking on the link on the right-hand side – “Søk stillingen” (Apply for the post).

The following documents shall be attached to the online application:

  • Transcripts and diplomas of Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (120 ECTS)
  • A letter of motivation
  • Any scientific publications and a list of these
  • •Three references (contact information)

Please note that all documents must be in a Scandinavian language or in English. Any translations must be certified.

The application will be assessed on the basis of the attached documentation as requested above. Each applicant is responsible for ensuring that the required documentation has been uploaded with the application deadline.

The University has been awarded a Charter & Code certificate by the European Commission, and is entitled to use the HR Excellence in Research (HRS4R) logo. The University is also a member of the EURAXESS network, which contributes to good working conditions for mobile researchers.

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