PhD scholarships in Marine biodiversity and Climate Change

Tuesday 01 Dec 20

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Apply no later than 15 February 2021
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More than 2/3 of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans. Thousands of species inhabit this seemingly endless space, yet we know surprisingly little about its stunning diversity, how it is shaped, assembled and structured. But perhaps more importantly, we don´t know how it may respond to climate change and other human pressures, or how we may develop sustainable management actions to reduce impacts. Consequently, understanding these mechanisms and being able to predict the consequences of global change on marine biodiversity is a key objective in marine ecology and conservation. These questions have traditionally been approached with a species-centric focus. However, this taxonomic approach is inherently limited, as the mere number or identity of species reveals little to nothing about why the species are able to persist in a given environment and how they may respond to future changes. Instead, species can be characterized by their traits, describing key characteristics that determine the species’ response to environmental conditions, its interactions within food webs and ultimately its effect on ecosystem functioning. This trait-based approach has emerged as a promising field of research allowing for a more causal and mechanistic understanding of marine biodiversity and biogeography at large (e.g., Hillebrand and Matthiessen 2009).

Responsibilities and qualifications
To provide a better understanding and predictive capacity of future changes in marine biodiversity, particularly under climate change DTU Aqua seeks candidates for two 3-year PhD scholarships within the field of marine biodiversity and climate change. The overall objectives are to: (i) investigate the patterns, drivers and underlying processes of multiple aspects of taxonomic and functional diversity, including richness, evenness and differences in composition (i.e., beta-diversity); and (ii) forecast future changes in the diversity, composition and structure of marine biodiversity under climate change. The projects will focus on marine fish communities and make use of large-scale data on species abundances, composition and traits from bottom-trawl surveys (e.g., Beukhof et al., 2019). Furthermore, the projects will make use of a broad range of advanced statistical tools and approaches capable of investigating and forecasting future patterns and changes in marine biodiversity in response to global change (e.g., Ferrier et al., 2007; Ovaskainen et al., 2017). Both positions are linked to the recently started EU H2020 projects “MISSION ATLANTIC” and “ECOTIP”. The positions are available at the National Institute of Aquatic Resources (DTU Aqua) under the Centre for Ocean Life ( in Lyngby, Denmark. We expect the selected candidates to start during the period March to June 2021 with the earliest starting date on 15th March 2021.

Candidates for the PhD position 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 candidates who has:

  • A good background knowledge and experience in biodiversity and trait-based ecology with insight into the various ways in which to measure and characterize multiple metrics of taxonomic and functional biodiversity (including both alpha and beta diversity).
  • Ample experience and proficiency in handling and analysing large data sets using a range of statistical approaches, preferably in the statistical software R.
  • Flexibility concerning research stays abroad
  • Good communication skills in English, both written and orally
  • Ability to conduct research independently and problem solving skills
  • Strong interest in participating in an inter-disciplinary and international research environment
  • Willingness to contribute to a positive and inspirational work atmosphere

The applications should contain a motivation for why you want to undertake this research at DTU Aqua, your interest in this topic and a two-page description of your own project ideas fitting the overall research objectives described above.

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.

Assessment of applicants with the qualifications listed above will be made by Senior Researchers Dr. Martin Lindegren and Dr Patrizio Mariani and the head of the PhD school, Prof. Ken-Haste Andersen.

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 appointments 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 3years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Senior Researcher Martin Lindegren

For general information on the PhD application please contact Karin Stubgaard,, tel: +45 35 88 30 33

You can read more about the institute at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.

Please submit your online application no later than 15 February 2021 (Danish time).

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)
  • A description of proposed research fitting one or both of the overall objectives mentioned earlier (max. 2 pages)
  • 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)
  • Recommendation letters from senior professionals are welcomed

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.

Description of Oceans and Arctic at DTU Aqua, Technical University of Denmark
The PhD candidate(s) will become part of the vibrant, cross-disciplinary, and international research environment at the Centre for Ocean Life that is a Villum Kann Rasmussen Centre of Excellence. The centre is a collaborative effort to develop a fundamental understanding and predictive capability of marine ecosystems through the use of trait-based approaches. We currently have a group of about 20 young scientists associated the Centre (PhD and Postdocs). They are working on various aspects of marine life using diverse approaches (observational, experimental, theoretical) while collaborating through weekly science meetings, annual science retreats, numerous working groups, and collaborative projects. Their backgrounds are as diverse as are those of the PIs of the Centre, from physics and mathematics to biology and chemistry, and we spend considerable effort developing cross-disciplinary communication and projects since we believe that the potential for discovery and progress may be achieved by confronting the different disciplines

The purpose of DTU Aqua is to provide research, advice and education at the highest international level within the sustainable exploitation of living marine and freshwater resources, the biology of aquatic organisms and the dynamics of ecosystems as well as their integration in ecosystem-based management. DTU Aqua has ca. 260 employees, of whom a third are scientific staff. The other employees are assistant biologists, laboratory technicians, IT employees, administrative staff, ship’s crew, student assistants etc. The institute is organized into eight scientific sections that carry out the research, educational and advisory activities. In addition, the institute has a number of scientific and administrative support functions, including the research vessel DANA. DTU Aqua has employees in Kgs. Lyngby, Silkeborg, Nykøbing Mors and Hirtshals as well as on Dana.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 11,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.