Doctoral Student In Biology With Focus On Plant Ecophysiology

Göteborg University
February 25, 2024
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
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The University of Gothenburg tackles society's challenges with diverse knowledge. 56 000 students and 6 600 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract researchers and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.

Doctoral position in biology with focus on plant ecophysiology

At the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (BioEnv) we have teaching and research activities that stretch from the alpine ecosystem, through forests, cultivated land and streams, all the way into the marine environment. In these environments we study different levels of biological organisation from genes, individuals, and populations, to communities and ecosystems. We work within ecology, evolution, physiology, systematics, and combinations of these fields to understand the impact of natural and anthropogenic changes of the environment.

The department is placed at two different localities: in Natrium at Medicinaregatan 7B in Gothenburg and at the Kristineberg marine research station operated by the Marine Infrastructure at the University of Gothenburg. The current employment is based at Natrium.

General information about being a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg can be found on the university's doctoral student pages. https: //

We offer

The University of Gothenburg is a state authority, which means special benefits, more holidays and a great pension. You can read more about our employment benefits here.

Project description

This PhD project is within the research field of plant ecophysiology. Its overall aim is to explore how climate and climate change affects and shapes tropical montane forests. The project explores how changes in cloud immersion, temperature and water availability affect the functioning, competitiveness and survival of different tropical montane tree species. The main focus is on plant traits and processes regulating tree water economy and energy balance. Key questions addressed by the project are: (i) How do warming, cloud reduction and drought affect the water economy and thermoregulation of tropical montane trees? (ii) What are the key plant traits controlling heat- and drought-induced stress and mortality? (iii) What is (are) the most important physiological consequence(s) of reductions in cloud immersion – water deficiency, altered leaf thermoregulation, and/or changes in radiation absorption? The more specific questions and focus of the research will be developed by the PhD student together with the supervisors. The project is primarily based on research at field sites in tropical montane forests in Peru and Rwanda. Sites differ in climate and include experimental plots with manipulation of cloud immersion (cloud reduction ‘curtain') and water supply (irrigation and/or rainfall exclusion). Field measurements will primarily focus on traits governing tree water economy and heat stress, for example leaf morphology, gas exchange, photosynthetic heat tolerance, and hydraulic traits controlling tree water economy (uptake, transport, storage, loss). Most data will be collected directly in the field but samples will also be brought to the lab for subsequent analyses. Collected data will be analyzed using appropriate quantitative and statistical methods.

The student will be hosted at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences under the main supervision of Prof Johan Uddling. Prof. Daniel Metcalfe at Umeå University will be co-supervisor. The project includes collaboration with scientists, PhD students and field staff working at the field stations in Peru and Rwanda, including research team members employed at the University of Rwanda. It also includes contacts and possible collaboration with other international researchers that share an interest in understanding and predicting how tropical trees and forests respond to climate change. In a couple of projects, the research group has ongoing collaborations with leading vegetation and ecosystem modellers through which the larger- and longer-scale implications of key findings can be explored. Finally, development research and capacity building are important components of the research collaboration with the University of Rwanda and institutions in Peru.

The project is linked to the strategic research area BECC (Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate), which also hosts a research school that will be open for the recruited PhD student: ClimBEco.


The main task is to conduct the PhD thesis work under supervision, which includes development of the PhD student's methodological experience, analytical skills, as well as theoretical depth and breadth. Techniques used within the project may include leaf gas exchange, chlorophyl fluorescence, and tree hydraulic methods. The studies will be conducted mostly as field studies. Some periods will be spent on field work at research stations in Peru and Rwanda. Specific research topics associated with the research project include ecophysiological regulation of water economy and energy balance at leaf, tree and canopy levels.

Education at third-cycle level comprises four years of full-time study, and leads to a doctoral degree. As part of your employment as a doctoral student, you may have departmental duties corresponding to up to 20 % of full-time employment, distributed throughout your study period. Departmental duties usually consist of teaching at first- and second-cycle levels, but may also include research and administration.


Education at third-cycle level requires general eligibility and, where appropriate, specific eligibility as set out in the general syllabus for the subject.

The general eligibility requirements for education at third-cycle level are:

  • having completed a degree at second-cycle level, or 2. the fulfilment of course requirements totalling at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits must be at second-cycle level, or

  • the acquisition of equivalent knowledge in some other way, either in Sweden or abroad.

  • To meet the specific entry requirements for third-cycle studies, applicants must:

  • have a second-cycle (advanced-level) degree in a relevant subject area in the natural sciences, or
  • have completed studies for at least 60 higher education credits at a second-cycle level in relevant subject areas in the natural sciences, or
  • have completed a corresponding programme of relevance to the planned third-cycle programme, in Sweden or in another country, or have equivalent qualifications.
  • Relevant subject for the planned third-cycle education is biology, including courses in plant biology (physiology/ecology/ecophysiology).

    Assessment criteria

    The selection of applicants who meet the basic and specific eligibility requirements will be based on the ability to assimilate the education at third-cycle level.

    It is a requirement that the applicants have:

  • Knowledge in plant biology, including ecophysiology, ecology, physiology, or equivalent
  • Analytical skills
  • Creative thinking
  • Ability to work well alone as well as collaborating as part of a group
  • Willingness to conduct field work in Peru and Rwanda
  • Excellent communication skills in English, both written and spoken, since we work in an international environment
  • Other desirable (but not necessary) qualifications are:

  • Knowledge in plant ecophysiology (= physiological ecology or functional ecology)
  • Experience using ecophysiological methods
  • Experience conducting field work under remote/challenging conditions
  • Experience with quantitative data analysis and/or programming, e.g. in R
  • Experience working in a team
  • Experience with scientific publication
  • Spanish language skills
  • Willingness to teach undergraduate students at the host department
  • The application should preferably be written in English and must include:

  • A short cover letter with the applicant's justification for the application, i.e., that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria (no more than one page)
  • An attested list of qualifications (CV)
  • Examination certificates and a transcript of courses with grades
  • A copy of the Master thesis (or equivalent)
  • Employments certificates and other documents deemed important by the applicant
  • The top ranked candidates will be selected for an interview, which might be held in English and could also be performed digitally.


    Once you have been admitted for education at third-cycle level, you will be employed as a doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg.

    The provisions for employment as a doctoral student can be found in ordinance SFS 1993:100.

    Initial employment as a doctoral student may apply for a maximum of one year, and may be renewed by a maximum of two years at a time.

    A doctoral student may be employed as a doctoral student for a maximum of eight years, but the total period of employment may not be longer than the equivalent of full-time education at third-cycle level for four years.

    Placed at the department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Extent: 100%. First day of employment: May 1st 2024 or upon agreement.

    The University applies a local agreement on salaries for doctoral students.

    Contact information

    For further information please contact:

    Johan Uddling, Professor Phone: +46 (0)70-388 1357 Email: [email protected] Webpage: https: // www.

    Åsa Arrhenius, Head of Department tel. +46 31 786 26 25 Email: [email protected]


    Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg can be found here: https: // www.


    You can apply to be admitted for education at third-cycle level via the University of Gothenburg's recruitment portal.

    It is your responsibility to ensure that the application is complete as per the vacancy notice, and that the University receives it by the final application deadline.

    Applications must be received by: 22th of Februari 2024

    Information for International Applicants

    Choosing a career in a foreign country is a big step. Thus, to give you a general idea of what we and Gothenburg have to offer in terms of benefits and life in general for you and your family/spouse/partner please visit:

    https: // www. https: // www.

    The University works actively to achieve a working environment with equal conditions, and values the qualities that diversity brings to its operations.

    Salaries are set individually at the University.

    In accordance with the National Archives of Sweden's regulations, the University must archive application documents for two years after the appointment is filled. If you request that your documents are returned, they will be returned to you once the two years have passed. Otherwise, they will be destroyed.

    In connection to this recruitment, we have already decided which recruitment channels we should use. We therefore decline further contact with vendors, recruitment and staffing companies.

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