Doctoral student in Natural Science, specializing in Environmental Science Ref PAR 2023/417: 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 scientists and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future. Doctoral position in Environmental Science with emphasis on System Ecology

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 three different localities: in Gothenburg Botanical garden, at Medicinareberget in Gothenburg and Kristineberg Marine Research Station. In August, the department moves to the new building, Natrium, located on Medicinareberget.

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

Project description

Climate change is expected to cause severe climate stress on tree vegetation in northern Europe, especially by heat waves, drought, and flooding. Increased climate stress may lead to reduced growth and increased mortality, which in turn risks the many ecosystem services delivered by trees. Hence, it is important to plant tree species in forests and cities that can survive and thrive in the challenging growing conditions of the future climate.

 The overall aim of this PhD-thesis project is to identify the long-term impacts of climatic stress (heat, drought, and flooding) on tree growth and vitality in forests and urban environments in SW-Sweden. To achieve this aim, the PhD-student will use a process-based ecosystem model and evaluate it against experimental data.

The PhD-position is part of two projects, one studying climate-trees feedbacks in urban habitats in Gothenburg city (Sustainable trees to promote sustainable cities in a changing climate) and the other in an experimental forest in SW-Sweden (Impacts of several years consecutive summer droughts on forest-climate feedbacks). 

The student will be hosted in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Annemieke Gärdenäs. There will be ample opportunity for collaboration with other researchers in the Biological & Environmental Sciences and Earth Sciences departments at the University of Gothenburg, as well as at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Lund University, and the Gothenburg Botanical Garden.

The project is linked to the strategic research areas MERGE (ModElling the Regional and Global Earth system) and BECC (Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate). BECC also hosts a research school that will be open for the recruited PhD student: ClimBEco. The position is funded by Formas, MERGE, and the department.


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 include process-based modelling and model development, measuring and monitoring local climate and tree growth,

 (statistical) analysis of experimental data and model predictions. The studies will be conducted mostly by ecosystem modelling evaluated on experimental data from field and greenhouse studies.

Field work will be carried out in Gothenburg city, in addition, plant ecophysiological measurements in a greenhouse and in the experimental forests may be included. Specific research topics associated with the research project include: Global Change Ecology, Climate Change and Vegetation Feedbacks, Sustainable Forestry and Urban Greenery, Ecosystems services by Urban greenery and Forestry, and Process-based ecosystem modelling.

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 MSc in Environmental Sciences, especially Environmental physics/ Environmental and Water Engineering/Soil Science/ or Forest Ecology/Horticulture/Biology.

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.   

Essential attributes:

  • Basic knowledge of Environmental Sciences, Environmental Physics, Biology, Soil Science, and Meteorology
  • Very good analytic ability.
  • Creative and critical thinking.
  • Works well alone and as part of a group. Cooperative.
  • Organizational skills.
  • Willingness to conduct field work in Gothenburg, eventually the county Halland, and assist with measurements in greenhouse experiment nearby Gothenburg.
  • Excellent communication skills in English, both written and spoken, are essential.

Desirable attributes:

  • Specialization in Environmental Physics and/or System Ecology.
  • Basic knowledge in one or more of following subjects: Global Change and Forest Ecology, Plant Ecophysiology, Biogeochemistry and Soil physics, is a merit.
  • Experience of modelling, especially usage of process-based models
  • Experience with quantitative data analysis and/or programming.
  • Experience working in a team.
  • Experience with scientific publication.
  • Willingness to mentor and/or teach undergraduate students.

If Swedish is not your mother tongue, willingness to learn to speak Swedish so that you can communicate with end-users that can be Swedish Forest Agency, Swedish Forest Research Institute (Skogforsk), Skogssällskapet, Swedish EPA, City of Gothenburg, Plant nursery industry.

    Driving License


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.  

Location: Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Extent: 100%. First day of employment: September 2023 or upon agreement. The University applies a local agreement on salaries for doctoral students.  

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
  • 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.

Contact information

For further information please contact:

Annemieke Gärdenäs, Associate professor in Biogeophysics and Senior lecturer in Environmental Sciences,

Phone: +46 722 146 546


Åsa Arrhenius, Head of Department

tel. +46 31 786 26 25



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.  

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

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.

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Applications must be received by: May 8th, 2023

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