Lund University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top universities. The University has around 47 000 students and more than 8 800 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

Subject description

Biology is the broad subject about all living things. It encompasses everything from processes at the molecular and cellular level to global processes at ecosystem level. The subject is divided into a range of sub-disciplines and specialisations. The PhD programme at the Department of Biology includes many of these specialisations, from molecular biology to applied ecology, from viruses and individual cells to evolutionary biology and global biodiversity. Taking on research studies at the Department of Biology generally means focusing on a delimited part of the research area of biology and may include field studies, experiments, theoretical studies, or a combination of these.

Work duties
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 can also include teaching and other departmental duties, up to 20%.

The PhD candidate will be part of an interdisciplinary team at Lund University (7 PIs and 4 new PhD students) who over the next 6 years will collaborate to investigate the sublethal effects of commonly used pesticides in different species of insects. The project is highly interdisciplinary, involving research in fields such as analytical chemistry, genetics, metabolomics, ecology, and physiology, including collaborative laboratory, field and semi-field studies. Chemical insecticides play an integral role in controlling agricultural pests, however, their sublethal consequences for non-target species are often overlooked. Most of these pesticides are neurotoxins, yet how they affect the brain and its function in diverse insect species is poorly understood.

The goal of this specific PhD project is to investigate how acute and chronic exposure to sublethal levels of pesticide (alone and in mixtures) commonly found in the environment affects the brain and functionality of insect species with diverse ecological functions.

The project will involve development of behavioral experiments to be run primarily in the lab, but also adapted to semi-field and field conditions. Experiments will link ecotoxicological studies with neuro-cognitive defects. The PhD candidate will develop and apply deep learning and other image processing techniques to analyse impairments in visual and olfactory processing by quantifying and controlling flight trajectories of exposed and control insects within a newly developed virtual reality arena and more portable testing arenas. In addition, the project will include toxicity tests on single individuals, and at cellular level in dissected brains; electrophysiological recordings from sensory areas of the brain of insects.

The student will work in close collaboration with the other 3 PhD students and 7 PIs involved in the interdisciplinary project, whose overall outcome will allow the development of innovative protocols to more realistically evaluate risks of pesticide use.

Admission requirements 

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

•     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 passed an independent project (for example a degree project) of at least 30 credits in a relevant subject and have good oral and written proficiency in English.

Additional requirements

•     A MSC in a relevant topic, such as neurobiology, ecology, behavioural science, computer science, neuroscience, engineering 

•     Very good oral and written proficiency in English.

In addition to the mandatory requirements, documented experience in the following areas will be considered as strong merits:

•     Tracking animal behaviour in lab, semifield or field conditions; 

•     Data processing, statistical computing, and scripting in Matlab or other programming languages;

•     Insect neurobiology,  e.g. brain dissections, electrophysiological recordings, brain imaging. 

•     Ecotoxicology

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: 

  • Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study.
  • An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, for example professional experience.

Consideration will also be given to collaborative and organizational skills, endurance and personal maturity, 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 programe. 

Terms of employment

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 postgraduate education programme and in what way this interdisciplinary 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 your references, letters of recommendation, etcetera). 

Type of employment Temporary position
First day of employment October 1st 2022 or according to agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2022/2326
  • David O'Carroll, Professor, +46462229577,
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-2229362
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet, 046-2229364
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-2229366
Published 17.Jun.2022
Last application date 01.Sep.2022 11:59 PM CEST

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