The Biocomplexity Group at the Niels Bohr Institute invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in Physics as part of a Data Science Initiative funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation with starting date 1 December 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Our group and research- and what do we offer?
In the Biocomplexity Group, we conduct research on a broad range of aspects within the science of complex phenomena in physics. In particular, we focus on phenomena on the boundaries between physics, biology and medicine. We study topics ranging from pattern formation, morphogenesis, bacterial infections, networks, virus-host interactions, development, stem cells, cellular behavior, active matter, genetic regulation, and protein aggregation.

We offer a highly creative and exciting research atmosphere at the vibrant border between physics, biology and medicine. The PhD fellowship is given in accordance with Danish legislation and will run for 3 years. The salary is set according to Danish Union Contracts which are quite competitive on an international scale.

The group is a part of the Niels Bohr Institute, Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. We are located at Østerbro in Copenhagen.

The project
This project aims to investigate the use of differentiable programming techniques to combine physical models and techniques from machine learning for applications in biophysical systems. The nature of the project is quite open, but could revolve around optimality and robustness in nature, in particular in relation to shape: How can embryos, organs or organoids robustly obtain their (functional) shape in noisy environments? How do leaves obtain their shape and venial system? How can the biological algorithms of morphogenesis have evolved continuously?

The precise area of application is not fixed but should fall within the general research areas of the group, including morphogenesis, computer vision, network optimization, disease diagnosis, expert knowledge in neural networks, probabilistic modeling, large-scale model fitting. In general, the student is encouraged to formulate new avenues of research within the activities of the bio-complexity group.

Experience with biophysical systems and machine learning is a plus, interest in these fields is a must.

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for candidates within the fields of physics, mathematics or computer science, preferably (but not required) with a background in biology or machine learning.

Principal supervisor is Julius Bier Kirkegaard, Niels Bohr Institute,

The PhD programme
three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), requiring you to already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree.

Qualifications needed for the regular programme
To be eligible for the regular 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. physics, applied mathematics, computer science, computational biology, machine learning, etc. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

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.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks in the PhD programmes

  • 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, preferably abroad
  • 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 research or work experience
  • Other relevant professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with an interest in biology
  • 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. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. 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.
  4. Publication list (if available)
  5. Reference letters (1 – 3, if available)
  6. Master thesis (optional)
  7. Example of code written by you that you are proud of (optional)

Application deadline:
The deadline for applications is 14 August 2022, 23:59 GMT +2.

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. You can read about the recruitment process at

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

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:

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


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 14-08-2022

Employment start: 01-12-2022

Working hours: Full time

Department/Location: Niels Bohr Institutet

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