PhD Scholarship in Experimental Marine Ecology

DTU Aqua
torsdag 28 mar 19

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Frist 1. maj 2019
Du kan søge om jobbet ved DTU Aqua ved at udfylde den efterfølgende ansøgningsformular.

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Centre for Ocean Life ( offers a 3-year PhD fellowships in Experimental marine ecology with focus on suspension feeding. The fellow will be part of a collaborative project between DTU AquaDTU Physics, and Technion in Israel. The fellow will be employed at DTU Aqua (The National Institute for Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark).


We expect a PhD candidate with experience or strong interest in experimental work, and with an interest in collaboration between ecologists, physicists and engineers. Marine suspension feeders vary in size, from micron-sized unicellular plankton (flagellates and ciliates) to centimeter-sized gelatinous organisms (tunicates). They often have similar feeding structures to intercept microscopic prey, but the feeding mechanisms remain elusive for many important forms. The collaborative project has the following three components:

  1. Most suspension feeders produce feeding currents to facilitate prey encounter. In the open ocean, many microscopic suspension feeders are attached to marine snow aggregates, process large volumes of water and play a major role due to their high abundance. We are interested in exploring how the attached suspension feeders affect the marine snow aggregates, and, in turn, how the attachment to a sinking aggregate affects the suspension feeder. The process may have major implications to carbon sequestration in the ocean.
  2. Many unicellular ciliates have open filters made of bundles of cilia, and the filter is undulating while water is flowing through. It is unclear how the organism can build sufficient pressure drop across the filter to drive the flow. The magnitude and direction of the flow and the resulting pressure field are also unclear. We will explore these flow features through high-speed video observations, flow visualization, and theoretical modelling. 
  3. Tunicates build a prey-straining mucus filter that appears as a ‘mesh’ in electron-microscopy images. Capture efficiency depends not only on the size of the prey, but also on its surface properties. By comparing species from the Mediterranean and Danish waters, we will examine how filter structure and function vary between species adapted to different temperatures and prey concentrations.

The PhD student can be involved in one or all of these aspects of the project, however, a considerable freedom is granted to formulate the PhD project within this general theme of suspension feeding. The student is expected to spend time in Israel, either at the Technion or at the Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat at the Red Sea (


The application should contain a motivation letter and may include an outline of the applicant’s own project ideas. The final project details will be developed together with the supervisors, Professor Thomas Kiørboe (DTU Aqua), Associate Professor Anders Andersen (DTU Physics), and Professor Uri Shavit (Technion, Israel).

Responsibilities and tasks

The PhD candidate will become part of a vibrant, cross-disciplinary, and international research environment at the Centre for Ocean Life that is a Villum Kann Rasmussen Centre of Excellence. We currently have a group of about 20 young scientists associated with the Centre (PhD and postdocs). They are working on various aspects of marine life using diverse approaches (observational, experimental, and theoretical) while collaborating through weekly scientific meetings, annual science retreats, numerous working groups, and collaborative projects. Their professional background is as diverse as the background of the PIs, from physics and mathematics to biology and chemistry.

We spend considerable effort developing cross-disciplinary communication and interdisciplinary projects since we believe that the potential for discovery and progress is achieved by confronting the different disciplines.


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


We are looking for a biologist, physicist, engineer, or similar with a keen interest in marine ecology.


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.

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.

The successful candidate is expected to start in 2019. Candidates should complete their MSc before they can apply.

Further information

For further information about the scholarship, please contact Professor Thomas Kiørboe ( or Associate Professor Anders Andersen (


You can read more about the Centre for Ocean Life at: Centre for Ocean Life, the associated project “mechanistic approach to plankton ecology”, the National Institute of Aquatic Resources at: DTU Aqua, and the group at DTU Physics at: Complex Motion in Fluids.

Application procedure
Please submit your online application no later than 1 May 2019.

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

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae and publication list
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Possible outline of project ideas, and other material that you would like to be included in the evaluation.
  • 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.

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.