PhD scholarship in Impact of Microplastics on the Marine Food Web

DTU Aqua
tirsdag 20 nov 18

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Frist 20. december 2018
Du kan søge om jobbet ved DTU Aqua ved at udfylde den efterfølgende ansøgningsformular.

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A PhD Scholarship on the impact of microplastics on marine food webs is available at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua) in the Section for Oceans and Arctic with start early 2019.  The project will be carried out at DTU Aqua and Department of Environmental Engineering (DTU Environment), both located at the DTU Lyngby Campus. The project is an integrated part of ‘MarinePlastic – The Danish centre for research into marine plastic pollution’ supported by the Velux foundation.


MarinePlastic is an interdisciplinary centre for cutting-edge research into marine plastic pollution, uniting Danish researchers across institutions and disciplinary expertise. The centre will develop scientifically based understanding of the types, sources, occurrence, fate and environmental consequences of marine pollution caused by all sizes of plastic materials, ranging from macro- to nanoplastics, and bring this knowledge into use by proposing societal solutions and interacting with policymakers.


Responsibilities and tasks

The project will investigate the interactions between microplastics and key elements of marine plankton food webs. Tasks may include:

  • Establishing a mechanical understanding of the interaction between microplastics and key elements of the marine food web based on laboratory experiments
  • Identifying anatomical and physiological traits that determine the ingestion, rejection, translocation and depuration of microplastics by key marine species.
  • Evaluating the importance of size, colour and weathering state of microplastics, as well as the influence of biofouling, on their biological interactions.
  • Comparing the results of laboratory experiments with environmental occurrence and concentrations of microplastics as obtained in connection with cruises in Danish waters.
  • Optimization of protocols for sample digestion and microplastics analysis.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

We are looking for a candidate who has:
  • Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Aquatic or Environmental Sciences (or similar)
  • Experience with experimental design and experimental biology
  • Experience with statistical data treatment
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English
  • Desire and capability to work within a highly collaborative team
  • Strong interest in participating in a crossdisciplinary research environment
  • Willingness to contribute to a positive and inspirational work atmosphere
  • The candidate should have the interest in travelling  to conduct short research stays/joint experiments in outside Denmark
  • Experience with analytical chemistry will be considered an asset

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.


The assessment of the applicants will be made by Professor Torkel Gissel Nielsen and Researcher Rodrigo Almeda (DTU Aqua) and Senior Researcher Nanna B. Hartmann (DTU Environment)


We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.


Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.


You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information

Further information can be obtained from Professor Torkel Gissel Nielsen, +45 2558 0657 or


You can read more about DTU Aqua at


Please submit your online application no later than 20 December 2018.


Applications must contain all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.


Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.


The research spectrum of the Section for Oceans and Arctic covers oceanography, marine ecology, observation technology and the Arctic. The research into oceanography integrates biological, physical and chemical parameters’ interactions in the ocean, ranging from individual plankton to regional seas. We focus on understanding the key processes that govern the structure and function of pelagic food webs, as well as climate and ecosystem interactions. The research in marine ecology establishes how processes affecting individuals shape populations and ecosystems.


DTU Environment is one of the largest university departments specializing in environmental engineering in Europe. The department conducts research and development, and provides educational programs and service to society in the area of engineering of water in natural, urban and industrial contexts, processing and recovery of residual resources, environmental risk assessment and chemical risk reduction. The aim is to develop new environmentally friendly and sustainable technologies, and to disseminate this knowledge to society and a new generation of engineers. The department has approximately 185 staff from more than 30 countries.


DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.