PhD in Roots of plant species mixtures to mitigate compaction in a changing climate: Applicants are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Technical Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Agroecology programme. The position is available from 1 September 2023 or later. Title: PhD in Roots of plant species mixtures to mitigate compaction in a changing climate

Research area and project description:
Soil degradation due to subsoil compaction is a major challenge in agriculture as natural recovery is very slow. Thus, targeted strategies are needed to promote and speed up the recovery of compacted subsoils. Previous studies have shown recovery effects of deep-rooted plant species such as chicory, lucerne and lupin grown in monoculture.

We anticipate that growing plant mixtures with different root growth patterns and varying symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi can increase the extent and rate of subsoil recovery after compaction. Yet, there is a lack of knowledge of the potential of such plant species mixtures to aid the recovery of compacted subsoils.

The project will explore interactions between soil and roots as well as the impact of the root growth patterns on soil functioning using state-of- the-art methods. The PhD position includes research stays at University College Dublin, Ireland and at the seed company, DLF, offering the successful candidate to establish a strong research profile and network.

We are looking for an open-minded, curious person with a keen interest in soil-plant interactions and soil functioning in a changing climate perspective.

As PhD. Student at Department of Agroecology you will meet a workplace characterized by professionalism and equality. You will be offered competent supervision, well-developed research infrastructure and modern laboratories. Our research climate encourages lively, open and critical discussion within and across different fields of research.

The Project: “ROOTED”
A deeper understanding of the interactions between soils and plants, especially at the root zone, where they take up water and nutrients may support sustainable intensification of agricultural production. Research is indicating that a greater understanding of roots and soil functions may lead to increases in crop yields, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from soils, enhanced productivity in grasslands and reductions in fertilizer requirements to land.

However, data gaps remain in our understanding of how plant roots interact with their environment from a physiological and phenotypic perspective. The challenge of ensuring food security provides the impetus for ROOTED (Root Phenotyping Integrated Educational Doctoral Network).

ROOTED will apply deep learning and artificial intelligence to speed up data generation in root phenotyping. ROOTED will consolidate the complimentary expertise of an international, interdisciplinary, multisectoral team to train a new generation of creative, resilient, adaptive multi-skilled scientists capable of innovating the fields of plant and soil sciences to actively contribute to the goal of doubling food production in a sustainable manner by 2050. Soil health and food is one of the 5 mission areas for Horizon Europe and the findings from ROOTED would be directly applicable to the EU’s Green deal and a Soil Deal for Europe.

ROOTED graduates will have a level of scientific, communication and digital skills mastery that enables them to move straight into employment in agri-food businesses, seed and breeding companies, advisory and scientific roles. 

Salary, holiday payment, pension contributions and the like include all employer and employee’s taxes and contributions. Thus, figures are before taxes are paid, and taxes may differ depending on individual circumstances.

Salary and terms of employment are in accordance with applicable collective agreement, and salary is depending on seniority. Salary includes a non-pensionable PhD supplement. The allowances mentioned in the EU work programme (living allowance, mobility allowance and, if applicable, family allowance) will be part of the salary.

Allowance rates can be found in the relevant EU Work Programme (under MSCA doctoral network – Applicable unit contributions), and country correction coefficient can be found in the same document.” Project description: For technical reasons, you must upload a project description. Please simply copy the project description above, and upload it as a PDF in the application.

Qualifications and specific competences:
The applicants must have a M.Sc. degree (120 ECTS) in Soil Science, Crop Science, Agronomy or closely related fields. Demonstrated oral and written communication skills in English as well as basic knowledge of soil structure and soil-plant interactions is required. The applicant must be able to present results at international conferences and publish in international peer-reviewed journals.

The applicant should be enthusiastic about working in an international and interdisciplinary academic environment. Applications from women and people from underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged.

Place of employment and place of work:
The place of employment is Aarhus University, and the place of work is Faculty of Technical Sciences, Department of Agroecology, Blichers Alle 20, DK 8830 Tjele, Denmark.

EU eligibility requirements in Marie Curie Doctoral Networks

  • Supported researchers must be doctoral candidates, i.e. not already in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of the recruitment. Researchers who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will not be considered eligible.
  • Researchers must be enrolled in a doctoral programme leading to the award of a doctoral degree in at least one EU Member State or Horizon Europe Associated Country, and for Joint Doctorates in at least two.
  • Recruited researchers can be of any nationality and must comply with the following mobility rule: they must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date.
  • Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays and time spent by the researcher as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention75 are not taken into account.
  • Secondments are eligible for up to one third of the actual months spent implementing the research training activities under the action.
  • In case of industrial doctorates, doctoral candidates must spend at least 50% of their fellowship duration in the non-academic sector.

In addition to the standard documents, please complete the ROOTED eligibility form available here, convert it into a PDF file, and upload in under ‘Other information to consider’ when applying for the position.

Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact:
– Professor Lars J. Munkholm,
– Associate Professor Sabine Ravnskov,

How to apply:
Please follow this link to submit your application. Application deadline is 30 April 2023 23:59 CEST. Preferred starting date is 1 September 2023.

Please note:

  • The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.
  • Shortlisting will be used, which means that the evaluation committee only will evaluate the most relevant applications.

Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants. All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background. Salary and terms of employment are in accordance with applicable collective agreement.  

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