The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at University of Copenhagen invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in accessing root exudation and its relationship with rhizosphere processes. The Start date is expected to be 1 February 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project: The rhizosphere, the soil volume in close vicinity of living roots, is the critical plant-soil interface that governs plant productivity and consequently food and fibre production. Plant roots have the ability to alter the physico-chemical environment of the rhizosphere; for example, root release of protons and exudates can change pH and/or chelate metals and enhance the release of sparingly available phosphorus. However, these processes remain poorly understood, in part because measuring them poses substantial challenges.

The overall project aim is to quantify root exudation and establish relationships with localized changes in the rhizosphere and their contribution to plant nutrition. The project will take its starting point in quantifying root exudation and its interactions with soil pH and phosphorus mobilization; and aims to conduct research along laboratory, glasshouse, and field conditions along this interface. There will be room for project development incl. methods to achieve the project goals.

Who are we looking for? We are looking for candidates within the fields of agriculture, plant and soil science, soil chemistry, and/or (bio)geochemistry. Applicants should be familiar with basic plant-soil interactions and belowground processes. Experimental experience with plant growth, soil analyses, and bio-chemical imaging will be an advantage. The applicant should be interested in both field and laboratory work. Proficiency in spoken/written English, including skills in academic writing are essential.

Our group and research- and what do we offer?

The successful candidate will be anchored in the Belowground Crop Ecology group in the Crop Sciences section within the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. We are located at the KU Taastrup campus. Our research group focuses on interactions belowground between roots and the surrounding environment, contributing to the development of resilient cropping systems with efficient resource use. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment.

Our research facilities include modern laboratories, growth facilities (greenhouses, climate chambers), and specialized infrastructure to investigate plant roots and their interactions. Being part of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and faculty of Science, we also have access to state of the art instruments and a wealth of methods relevant to plant-soil interactions. The PhD student is anticipated to work together with a PostDoc in an affiliated upcoming project.

Principal supervisor is tenure-track assistant professor Frederik van der Bom, Department of Plant and Environmental Science, E-mail:, Direct Phone: +45 35 33 71 28. The co-supervisor is associate Professor Dorte Bodin Dresbøll.

The PhD programme

Qualifications needed for the programme
To be eligible for the PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. plant science, soil science, or environmental science. For information of eligibility of completed programmes,

Terms of employment in the regular programme
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The terms of employment and salary are in accordance to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks in the PhD programme

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

We are looking for the following qualifications:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other relevant professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in plant-soil interactions
  • Good language skills

Application and Assessment Procedure

 Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  2. A short reflection on your research interests, experience, and how the project aims can be approached (max. one page)
  3. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  4. Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  5. Publication list (if possible)
  6. Contact information for two referees (to contact upon request)

Application deadline:

The deadline for applications is 14 November 2022, 23:59 GMT +1.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment.

Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in week 50+51 December 2022.

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 


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