PhD on Soil Microbial Communities: Estonia

PhD position to investigate the soil microbial communities, with emphasis on carbon and nitrogen cycles, in global peatlands is available in the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia. The PhD student will be supervised by Dr. Mikk Espenberg and Prof. Ülo Mander.

Project description

Peatlands account for ca 3% of the terrestrial surface of the global land surface but they store one-third of the world’s soil carbon and one-tenth of the world’s soil nitrogen. Quantity and distribution of carbon and nitrogen in soils are controlled through biogeochemical processes; however, the lack of knowledge regarding microbial processes governing greenhouse gas emissions hinders climate-change impact estimations of the world’s peatlands. Deciphering the biogeography of peatland soil microbial communities as a whole would help to put microbes from small to broad scales. This project aims to use a unique metagenomic dataset of peatland soils worldwide to connect microbial carbon- and nitrogen-cycling processes to physicochemical parameters and greenhouse gas fluxes at ecosystem levels.

Key responsibilities

  • Perform laboratory analysis of soil samples using molecular biology and microbiology approaches
  • Perform bioinformatic and statistical analysis of microbiome data
  • Publish in scientific journals
  • Present at conferences and meetings
  • Write a thesis

Qualification requirements

  • M.Sc. degree in Bioinformatics, Microbiology, Environmental Sciences, Ecology, Molecular Biology or related fields
  • Strong interest in microbial ecology, soil microbiology and/or climate change
  • Willingness to learn programming with R and/or Python
  • Knowledge of statistical approaches used in microbial ecology
  • Fluency in English. Research community is fully international, working language is English.
  • Experience with molecular biology and microbiology laboratory techniques
  • Experience with bioinformatics, biostatistics or field work is an advantage

What we offer

  • Full-time PhD students receive a doctoral allowance of 660 euros per month plus an additional performance stipend of 400 euros per month, regardless of their citizenship. Both are tax-free payments and there is no separate application for receiving them, it is taken care of automatically. Note that cost of living in Estonia is lower compared to Western Europe.
  • All PhD students who receive a doctoral allowance get Estonian national health insurance. Doctoral allowance can be paid as soon as the student has obtained temporary residence permit (non-EU students) or temporary right of residence (EU students). Health insurance coverage is available for the full standard period of PhD studies (four years).
  • Flexible working hours
  • Support of career development and mentoring

Appointment and application

The position starts summer-fall 2021. To apply for the position, following documents are needed: motivation letter (1-2 page), master thesis and detailed CV including education, previous employments, list of publications and contact details. These documents must be sent to Dr. Mikk Espenberg, . The deadline for application is March 22, 2021. Informal inquiries are welcome.

About the University of Tartu

The University of Tartu is known for its high reputation of the quality of studies and research. Students choose our university, because they can count on the excellent reputation of the diploma they receive upon graduation. The University of Tartu belongs to the top 1.2% of world’s best universities (THE World University Rankings 2020, QS World University Rankings 2020) and is the fourth university in the Eastern region (QS EECA 2020). It is the highest ranked university in the Baltics. More information about University of Tartu is available here.

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