A PhD fellowship in Mobility and Stability of Nanomaterials in Soils

Environmental ScienceEnvironmental StudiesGeochemistry
Sep 03, 2023 21:59:00 GMT+00:00
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The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN), University of Copenhagen (UCPH) invites applications for a PhD fellowship in studies on the mobility and stability of nanomaterials in soils with start 1st Nov. 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. The position is in the Environmental Chemistry group in the Section of Environmental Chemistry and Physics (ECP).

The project

The spread of nanomaterials (NMs) in soil environments is a huge concern today. Whether manmade, intentionally and unintentionally, or natural, most NMs constitute an environmental risk due to their high surface reactivity. Being able to predict the mobility and stability of NMs in soils is essential for risk assessment and mitigation of accidentally released NMs.

The aim of this PhD project is to asssess the mobility and stability of nanomaterials (NMs) when they enter the soil. This will include batch and column experimental studies with model and natural soils, under varied environmental and climate stresses (e.g., contaminated soils, dought vs. flooded conditions, extreme temperature fluctuations), to evaluate NM mobility, dissolution and transformation behaviour, as well as their impact on pollutant and nutrient leaching. With this knowledge, we can then start to draw conceptual models of any potential risks to surrounding aqueous environments. State of the art characterisation tools such as X-ray micro-CT, fluorescence and electron microscopy will be critical to monitor the fate of NMs in the soils, while common analytical tools will be used to monitor changes in soil fluid chemistry and soil mineralogy. The specific nanomaterials to be examined in this PhD include a variety of nanosized fertilisers.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for a highly dedicated and enthusiastic candidate with interest in soil geochemistry and nanomaterials and background in environmental sciences, soil sciences, geochemistry or a related field. The project involves extensive laboratory work and characterisation of soil solids and solutions using various common but also high-end characterisation tools, so a keen interest for learning and applying state of the art equipment and developing robust laboratory workflow procedures is a must. This project is part of a larger research project aimed at developing nanosized fertilisers for foliar application, thus the candidate is expected to interact and communicate regularly with other PhDs, postdocs and senior scientitists in the project, to report on new results and participate in project discussions.

Our group and research – and what do we offer?

Research in the Environmental Chemistry group is rooted in soil and water (bio-)geochemical chemistry with focus on understanding and quantifying pollutant fate processes at the molecular level. This insight feeds into research and innovation on sustainable pollutant remediation technologies, resource recycling, risk assessment, soil and water regulation, and mechanistic modelling. We have access to advanced infrastructure and equipment required for such studies. There are 4 seniour researchers and around 10 PhD and 1-2 guest students/researchers in the group. We share strong synergies with the research groups in Soil Fertility, Environmental Microbiology, and Plant Nutrition at PLEN, and also extensively collaborate with other universities, industries and regulatory offices in Denmark as well as internationally. Thus, we offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and international research environment.

The following links give further information on the research group and section (https://plen.ku.dk/english/research/env_chem_phys) and the department (https://www.science.ku.dk/english/about-the-faculty/organisation/).

Principal supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Dominique J. Tobler, Section of Environmental Chemistry and Physics, PLEN, KU, dominique.tobler@plen.ku.dk, phone+4535325369. 

The PhD programme

Formal qualifications needed for the PhD programme

To be eligible for the 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 projects. 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 programme

  • Carry out 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

  • MSc degree in environmental sciences, geochemistry, soil sciences or related field
  • Professional qualifications and activities relevant to the PhD project
  • Hands-on training in solid and solution phase analyses
  • Curious and creative mind-set with a strong interest in soil geochemistry and nanomaterials
  • Relevant publications
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English

Application and Assessment Procedure

Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  • Your motivation for applying for this PhD project (max. 2 page)
  • Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  • 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.
  • Publication list (if possible)
  • Contact information for three reference persons

Application deadline

The deadline for applications is 3 September 2023, 23:59 GMT +2.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not fulfill 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, and the assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified. Next, the assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at https://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/.

Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in week 38 and 39.


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: https://www.science.ku.dk/phd/.