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.

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%.

Project background: As many animals, bumblebees keep track of their position in space using path integration. This enables them to return to their nest in a straight line even from unknown terrain. Bumblebees additionally have the unusual ability to use vector navigation for more complex navigation tasks than simple homing. For instance, they can optimize the routes at which they sequentially visit several feeders, minimizing overall travelling distance (trap lining) and combine vector navigation and visual, landmark based navigation. We recently developed an assay in which bumblebees showed path integration based homing while walking in an indoor arena, paving the way towards examining more complex forms of vector navigation with unprecedented levels of experimental control. 

Aims: This project will use this method to address two major questions. First, can the new walking assay dissect complex forms of bumblebee navigation behavior? Second, are these navigational abilities impacted by exposure to pesticides? The goal is to reveal the basis of previous observations that pesticides negatively affect foraging efficiency of bees, as well as to offer mechanistic insight into the neural basis of vector navigation, given the known molecular targets of pesticides. 

Methods: To enable the detailed quantification of pesticide effects on the performance of bees, the student will develop an approach to obtain quantitative ethograms of bumblebee behavior using high-speed cameras and machine learning based analysis, both for simple and complex navigation tasks. We will additionally relate all behavioral results to detailed, connectomics based, computational models of neural circuits thought to underly vector navigation, thus directly validating and adapting anaotmically driven functional hypotheses.

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 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

•    Master’s degree in biology/neurobiology or a closely related area.

•    Excellent oral and written proficiency in English.

•    Demonstrated ability for proactive and independent work.

•    Practical experience in behavioral work on insects, ideally bumblebees.

•    Thorough understanding of the neural circuits underlying vector navigation in insects.

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

•    Experience in data processing, statistical computing, and scripting in Matlab and R

•    Experience with DeepLabCut, or other machine learning based animal tracking software

•    Experience in analyzing volume electron microscopy data and neural circuit analysis (e.g. using CATMAID)

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 strong 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 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 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.

Type of employment Temporary position
First day of employment May 1st 2023 or as soon as possible according to agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2023/842
  • Stanley Heinze, Senior lecturer, +46723232411,
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-2229362
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet,
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-2229366
Published 17.Mar.2023
Last application date 07.Apr.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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