Lund University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has 40 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

The Faculty of Science conducts research and education within Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Geosciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Environmental Sciences. The Faculty is organized into nine departments, gathered in the northern campus area. The Faculty has approximately 1500 students, 330 PhD students and 700 employees.

Work duties

Bees and other social insects that live in open habitats are well known for their ability to learn the panorama of visual landmarks that are distributed around the horizon to localize their nest entrance, to recognize and travel along often-used foraging routes, and to find their way home again after a long foraging trip. Less well known is how social insects manage these demanding tasks in much more complex environments, such as a tangled rainforest, where potential landmark cues are located in every direction, including directly upwards in the rainforest canopy where patches of sky can be seen through the foliage and create a mottled textured pattern.

In this project, the PhD student will investigate the abilities of flying bees and wasps to use local variations in spatial information and contrast inherent in forested environments – in particular in forest canopies – as visual cues for returning to floral resources or for homing after a foraging trip. The main study animals will include the nocturnal bee Megalopta genalis (found in central America and northern South America) and the nocturnal and crepuscular Indian bees Xylocopa tranquebarica and Apis dorsata. Behavioural methods will primarily be used to determine the ability of wild nocturnal bees in their native habitats to distinguish and use visual cues to locate their nests at different light levels. These visual cues will include dorsal or frontal spatial patterns positioned at the nest entrance, whose properties and/or positions will be manipulated during behavioural tests. As a comparison, diurnal species, experiments will also be performed on dorsal pattern recognition in the European wasp Vespula germanica.

The PhD student will be supervised by Professor Eric Warrant (main supervisor, Lund), Professor Marie Dacke (co-supervisor, Lund) and Professor Hema Somanathan (co-supervisor, India), all of whom are expert on vision in bees, visual ecology, nocturnal vision and visual navigation. The student will divide their time between the Lund Vision Group in Sweden, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kerala, India.

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties will also teaching and other departmental duties (no more than 20%).

Admission requirements

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:

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

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third cycle studies in Biology if he or she has:

  • To be admitted to the third-cycle programme in Biology the student must have passed an independent project (e.g. degree project) of at least 30 credits in a relevant subject and have good oral and written proficiency in English.
  • Equivalent knowledge acquired through corresponding programmes will be assessed individually.
  • In order to enable interdisciplinary initiatives and important specialisations in certain areas, students with qualifications in subjects other than Biology may be considered for admission.

Additional requirements:

The applicant’s undergraduate education should include ethology, entomology, sensory biology, statistics and/or neurobiology. Knowledge of the sensory systems of invertebrates and of insect behaviour would also be of merit. Previous experience of working with insects in the field (especially in tropical environments), the ability to speak Spanish and/or Portuguese, experience handling camera equipment and the possession of a driver’s licence are also highly desirable. The applicant must master the English language so that he/she is able to acquire information from the scientific literature, communicate effectively with colleagues in different work environments, including scientific conferences, and to write grammatically correct scientific articles. Important qualities desired in the applicant are creativity, the ability to solve problems independently and to be structured, persevering and energetic. The project will occasionally require long working days (and weeks) during fieldwork and experiments, as well as longer field trips to Central and South America, as well as to India.

Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following:

1.   Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study.
2.   An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
3.   Written and oral communication skills
4.   Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, e.g. professional experience.

Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programme.

Terms of employment

Limit of tenure, four years according to HF 5 kap 7§. Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20% departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1-7 §§.

Instructions on how to apply

Applications shall be written in English and include a cover letter stating the reasons why you are interested in the position and in what way the research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, contact information for at least two references, letters of recommendation, etc.).

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
First day of employment 1 April 2021, or according to agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2020/3468
  • Eric Warrant, Professor,, +46 46 222 93 41
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-222 93 62
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet, 046-222 93 64
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-222 93 66
Published 10.Nov.2020
Last application date 01.Dec.2020 11:59 PM CET

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