PhD Position in Soil Science

University of Copenhagen Department for Geoscience and Natural Resource Management

PhD Position in Soil Science: Limiting N2O Emission from Hot Spots in Danish Agricultural Soils – Linking Crop Roots and Nitrate Dynamics

Department for Geoscience and Natural Resource Management

Faculty of Science

University of Copenhagen

The Department for Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) is offering a PhD position in Soil Science on linking crop roots and nitrate dynamics in agricultural soils by May 1, 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Description of the scientific environment

The successful applicant will be part of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Analysis research group at the Geography Section, and thereby joining a lively research environment with a focus on a deeper understanding of biogeochemical, physical, geochemical and biological processes in terrestrial ecosystems. Our section is a diverse group comprising research and teaching staff members, laboratory technicians, PhD candidates and MSc and BSc students, with a focus on many aspects of physical and human geography as well as natural resource management. The section has state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and substantial experience in conducting laboratory and field-based experiments.

Project description

The PhD position is part of a 5-year project financed by DFF (Danmarks Frie Forskningsfond) lead by Associate Professor Carsten W. Müller.

Nitrogen turnover and the resulting N2O emissions represent a major component of greenhouse gas emission from agricultural soils in Denmark. Nitrate reduction (denitrification) is particularly heterogeneously distributed over agricultural lands and N2O emissions therefore difficult to assess. To manage future N2O emissions effectively, it is crucial to understand the contribution of hot spot emissions at subfield scale, to apply efficient field and farm scale mitigation strategies. The main objectives of the project are the characterization and quantification of field scale fluxes in connection to plant growth and soil properties. And the testing of plant-soil model systems to gain insights into plant traits that may help mitigate N2O emissions. The work will be conducted in close collaboration with the co-PIs Kristian Thorup-Kristensen (Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences) and Per Lennart Ambus (Department for Geoscience and Natural Resource Management).

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Carsten W. Müller, Dept. for Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, Co-supervisors are Prof. Kristian Thorup-Kristensen, (Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences) and Prof. Bo Elberling, (Dept. for Geoscience and Natural Resource Management)

Job description

The position is a 3-year position and key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE include:

  • To manage and carry out your research project
  • To write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • To attend PhD courses
  • To teach and disseminate your research
  • To stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad

Formal requirements

Applicants should hold an MSc degree or equivalent in geoecology, agriculture, biology, ecology, biogeochemistry, geography or a closely related field. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be laid on previous publications (if any) and relevant work experience.

We are seeking a highly motivated and ambitious individual with good interpersonal and communication skills. Previous experience in field and greenhouse experiments with plant-soil systems, trace gas measurements, isotope analyses, chemical soil analyses including soil organic matter studies and spectromicroscopic imaging techniques will be considered a plus.

Fluency in spoken and written English is a requirement.

Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

The starting salary is currently at a minimum DKK 331,125 (approx. €43,750) including annual supplement (+ pension up to DKK 53,811). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.

Application Procedure

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  • Cover Letter (1 page) describing your background, personal qualities, research interests and motivation for applying for this position
  • CV (max. 2 pages)
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any)
  • A short abstract of the MSc thesis (max. 300 words)

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

The deadline for applications is 28.02.2021, 23:59 GMT +1

Procedures and shortlisting

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards, an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee.

The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science. You can read more about the recruitment process at


For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor Carsten W. Mueller, Department for Geoscience and Natural Resource Management,

General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at


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: 28-02-2021
Employment start: 01-05-2021
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Institut for Geovidenskab og Naturforvaltning