PhD Position in Natural Science

University of Gothenburg Department for Biological and Environmental Sciences

PhD Position in Natural Science, specializing in biology/aquaculture

Ref PAR 2021/305


The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 53 500 students and 6 500 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract scientists and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.

The new strategic initiative BLUE FOOD, center for future seafood, announces a doctoral position with placement at the Department for Biological and Environmental Sciences at University of Gothenburg.

Blue food  has brought together leading universities, institutes, innovation actors, regions, municipalities, organizations and more than forty companies from all over the country under the common vision to make Sweden a leading producer of attractive and sustainable seafood. As an important part of this transdisciplinary research we are now looking for a doctoral student in “Co-culturing of marine organisms in land based aquaculture systems”. The PhD student will be part of the young researcher program of the Blue food centre and have a super visor committee from several of the academic partners and one external partner.

At the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (BioEnv) we have teaching and research activities that stretch from the alpine ecosystem, through forests, cultivated land and streams, all the way into the marine environment. In these environments we study different levels of biological organisation from genes, individuals and populations, to communities and ecosystems. We work within ecology, evolution, physiology, systematics and combinations of these fields in order to understand the impact of natural and anthropogenic changes of the environment. The department is placed at three different localities: in Gothenburg Botanical garden, at Medicinaregatan 18A in Gothenburg and Kristineberg Marine Research Station. The current position is placed at Medicinaregatan 18A in Gothenburg.

The Department of Marine Sciences hosts the Marine Infrastructure at the University of Gothenburg, which is both a national and international resource for research, education and collaboration in the marine sciences. The infrastructure consists of three parts: the two marine research stations Kristineberg marine research station and Tjärnö marine laboratory, and the larger vessel R / V Skagerak.

SLU Aquaculture is a platform at Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences that gathers aquaculture researchers within at all four faculties at SLU. Our mission is to consolidate and develop aquaculture research and education at SLU.

IVL, the Swedish Environmental Institute, is an independent research institute in the field of environment and sustainability and works with applied research that contributes to meeting both the global sustainability goals and the Swedish environmental goals. Together with companies, organizations, municipalities and authorities, we develop solutions that contribute to sustainable operations and a sustainable society.

Project description

Co-culture in aquaculture - a winning concept for sustainable food production. The overall aim of the doctoral project is to create a scientific knowledge base for the development of a sustainable farming of seafood as a growing food sector for human consumption. Within the employment, you will conduct research, scientific collaboration and method development within aquaculture with a focus on circular systems and co-farming of aquaculture species from different trophic levels. Organisms within multi-species farming systems can be from different or the same trophic levels. They affect each other's growth rate and survival, not only through the exchange of nutrients, but also through chemical signaling between each other and with the microorganisms in the systems.

The aim of the project is to characterize, understand and develop co-farming of marine organisms with a main objective to optimize the health and welfare of the farmed organisms and thus also the productivity and harvest of several different valuable marine biomasses, from the same aquaculture system. The project will focus on land-based recirculating systems, RAS, and integrated multitrophic aquaculture, IMTA. You will study the health and well-being of fish, which is strongly linked to water quality as well as to other environmental factors, but also to productivity and product quality. Furthermore, you will study the equivalent for the low-trophic organisms included in the systems. The overall goal of the project is to design farming environments with optimal growth, health and welfare as well as product quality of the included species, in the system where water quality is a key factor.

The factors that affect water quality and thus the optimal farming conditions in circular RAS-IMTA systems are of extreme interest to several of the industrial partners in the BLUE FOOD center. The doctoral student will collaborate with and carry out practical work at the external partner Smögenlax AB as well as together with Swedish Algae Factory AB and Nordic Seafarm AB.

Job assignments

The main task is to conduct the PhD thesis work under supervision, which includes development of the PhD student’s methodological experience, analytical skills, as well as theoretical depth and breadth. The experimental focus of the PhD project will be on fish physiology and the understanding of environmental factors affecting the fish health, welfare and growth. You will work with whole animal studies as well as tissue physiology and immunology and molecular techniques. The focus is further to study and develop systems for optimal co-farming of organisms from different trophic levels. This includes the microbiological communities in the RAS biofilters and how the organisms affect each other and the water quality in the system.

The studies will be conducted in the form of laboratory, small-scale, experiments at the RAS laboratory and the physiological laboratories at Medicinaregatan 18A in Gothenburg and at Tjärnö Marine Biology Laboratory. Furthermore, experiments will be scaled up and tested in the research and development facility for RAS that is under construction at Smögenlax AB. As we have national and international partners, the project will possibly also include guest visits and studies elsewhere in Sweden or abroad.

Furthermore, the work will include statistical analyzes and compilation of results in scientific articles. You will also present the results at conferences, seminars and project meetings. As a doctoral student within the young researcher program of the Blue food centre, you are expected to communicate and collaborate actively with the other Blue food members.

Third cycle education

Admission to third cycle education is aiming at a PhD in Natural Science, specializing Biology. The education runs for four years of fulltime studies, containing three years of thesis work and one year of academic education (i.e. course work and literature studies). A selection of courses at the Department/Faculty is available, but national/international courses can also be selected.  Some teaching and/or course administration can be included which extends the contract time to the same extent.


To be eligible for third-cycle studies, the applicant must meet both the general and specific entry requirements. A person meets the general entry requirements for third-cycle courses and study programs if he/she:

1. has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
2. has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle, or
3. has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

To meet the specific entry requirements for third-cycle studies, applicants must:
1. have a second-cycle (advanced-level) degree in a relevant* subject area in the natural sciences, or
2. have completed studies for at least 60 higher education credits at a second-cycle level in relevant subject areas in the natural sciences, or
3. have completed a corresponding programme of relevance to the planned third-cycle programme, in Sweden or in another country, or have equivalent qualifications.

*Relevant subject for the planned third-cycle education is Animal Physiology.


Rules regarding education and employment on a doctoral level you will find in Higher Education Ordinance (HF, SFS 1993:100). Only applicants who are admitted to the postgraduate level may be hired. Upon appointment the degree of ability to successfully complete the PhD program must firstly be evaluated.

We are looking for a motivated, independent, and responsible person to conduct doctoral studies in biology with a focus on aquaculture. Excellent communication skills (written and oral) in English is a requirement as we work in an international environment. The applicant is expected to have experience and knowledge in animal physiology with focus on water living animals. We anticipate that the applicant has a combination of analytical and practical ability and can plan and work independently towards concrete goals.

Experience in farming of and experiments with aquatic animals and algae, laboratory work with emphasis on physiological measurements and microbiology is an advantage. Driving licenses are also meritorious. As this is a project within a center with several partners, we place great emphasis on the applicant’s appreciation of working in a group and seeking cooperation. We also expect the applicant to have an interest in sustainability issues in line with the UN's global sustainability goals and the project's goals.

For this position, the candidate who, after an overall assessment of competence and personal qualities, will be selected who shows the best ability to perform the intended tasks and collaborate with others.

The application should preferably be written in English and must include:

  • A short cover letter with the applicant’s justification for the application, i.e., that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
  • An attested list of qualifications (CV)
  • Examination certificates and a transcript of courses with grades
  • A copy of the Master thesis (or equivalent)
  • Employments certificates and other documents deemed important by the applicant

The top ranked candidates will be selected for an interview, which might be held in English and could also be performed by phone /Zoom.

How to apply

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. The selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application.

For further information please contact

Kristina Snuttan Sundell, Professor, director of SWEMARC and Blue Food

Phone: +46-31-786 36 71


Henrik Aronsson, Professor and Head of Department
Phone: +46 31 786 48 02


Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg:

Information for International Applicants

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Salary is determined on an individual basis.

Applications will be destroyed or returned (upon request) two years after the decision of employment has become final. Applications from the employed and from those who appeal the decision will not be returned.

In connection to this recruitment, we have already decided which recruitment channels we should use. We therefore decline further contact with vendors, recruitment and staffing companies.