Doctoral student in Biology includes many of these specialisations, from molecular biology to applied ecology, from viruses and cells

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has around 44 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

Subject description

Biology is the broad subject about all living things. It encompasses everything from processes at the molecular and cellular level to global processes at ecosystem level. The subject is divided into a range of sub-disciplines and specialisations. The PhD programme at the Department of Biology includes many of these specialisations, from molecular biology to applied ecology, from viruses and individual cells to evolutionary biology and global biodiversity. Taking on research studies at the Department of Biology generally means focusing on a delimited part of the research area of biology and may include field studies, experiments, theoretical studies, or a combination of these.

Work duties

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties can also include teaching and other departmental duties, up to 20%.

The PhD candidate will be part of an interdisciplinary team at Lund University (7 PIs and 4 new PhD students) who over the next 6 years will collaborate to investigate the sublethal effects of commonly used pesticides in different species of insects. The project is highly interdisciplinary, involving research in fields such as analytical chemistry, genetics, metabolomics, ecology, and physiology, including collaborative laboratory, field and semi-field studies. Chemical insecticides play an integral role in controlling agricultural pests, however, their sublethal consequences for non-target species are often overlooked. Most of these pesticides are neurotoxins, yet how they affect the brain and its function in diverse insect species is poorly understood.

The goal of this specific PhD project is to investigate how acute and chronic exposure to sublethal levels of pesticide (alone and in mixtures) commonly found in the environment affects the brain and functionality of insect species with diverse ecological functions.

The project will involve development of eco/toxicological assays to determine sensitivity of different insects to chronic and acute pesticide exposure, estimation of the effects of such exposure on flower and pollen selection, and determination of the sensory cues involved. Experiments will be run both in the lab, and in semi-field and field conditions comparing high and low pesticide exposure landscapes. The PhD candidate will work closely with other researchers in the project to apply tracking, deep learning and other image processing techniques to analyse flight trajectories of exposed and control insects, and their interaction with key plant species both in semi-field and lab-based testing arenas. 

The student will work in close collaboration with the other 3 PhD students and 7 PIs involved in the interdisciplinary project, whose overall outcome will allow the development of innovative protocols to more realistically evaluate risks of pesticide use.

Admission requirements 

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she by the time of appointment:

•     has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or

•     has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or

•     has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third cycle studies in Biology if he or she has passed an independent project (for example a degree project) of at least 30 credits in a relevant subject and have good oral and written proficiency in English.

Additional requirements

•     A MSC in a relevant topic, such as ecology, behavioural science, neuroscience

•     Very good oral and written proficiency in English.

•     A drivers licence

In addition to the mandatory requirements, documented experience in the following areas will be considered as strong merits:

•     Tracking animal behaviour in lab, semifield or field conditions; 

•     Data processing, statistical computing, and scripting in high level programming languages (e.g. R, Matlab, Python);

•     Ecotoxicology

Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following: 

  • Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study. 
  • An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, for example professional experience.

Consideration will also be given to collaborative and organizational skills, endurance and personal maturity, drive and independence , and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programe. 

Terms of employment

Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20% departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1–7 §§.

Instructions on how to apply

Applications shall be written in English and include a cover letter stating the reasons why you are interested in the postgraduate education programme and in what way this interdisciplinary research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, contact information for your references, letters of recommendation, etcetera). 

The Faculty of Science conducts research and education within Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Geosciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Environmental Science. The Faculty is organized into nine departments, gathered in the northern campus area. The Faculty has approximately 1500 students, 330 PhD students and 700 employees.

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Type of employmentTemporary position longer than 6 months
First day of employmentOctober 1st 2022 or according to agreement
SalaryMonthly salary
Number of positions1
Working hours100
CountySkåne län
Reference numberPA2022/2327
ContactDavid O’Carroll, Professor, +46462229577,
Union representativeOFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-2229362SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet, 046-2229364SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-2229366
Last application date01.Sep.2022 11:59 PM CEST
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