PhD student position in chemistry with a focus in biogeochemistry – Umeå University (UmU)

Posted 2 years ago

We are recruiting a doctoral student for a fully funded four-year research project on mercury biogeochemistry. The project involves advanced training in microbial biogeochemistry and analytical chemistry. We seek a candidate who is interested in identifying molecular mechanisms for formation of methylmercury in biofilms. Apply by the 11th of April 2022.

Working tasks

This research project fully supports a PhD student to study mechanisms for formation of methylmercury in anaerobic microbial biofilms. This work will focus on experimental molecular level studies on mercury uptake and methylation in biofilms.

The spread of mercury in ecosystems constitutes a severe threat to wildlife and human health. The problems are largely caused by formation of neurotoxic methylmercury which accumulates in aquatic food webs. Methylmercury is formed intracellular in a select group of anaerobe microorganisms by methylation of inorganic mercury. However, we still lack a detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms for cellular uptake and methylation of mercury.

The PhD education will be carried out within a research project funded by the Swedish Research Council aiming to identify molecular mechanism for formation of methylmercury in biofilms ( The doctoral student will be trained in, and conduct, experimental laboratory work with anaerobic microbial cells and biofilms. A combination of advanced techniques based on microscopy, vibration spectroscopy and mass spectrometry will be used to determine physical and chemical structure and metabolism of biofilms and to determine the chemical form and cellular uptake of mercury. The expression of specific genes involved in microbial methylation of mercury will also be determined. Results from the experimental studies will be combined with thermodynamic and kinetic modeling to understand in detail the processes controlling methylmercury formation.

The major work tasks are to: (i) continuously be updated on the scientific literature of the research field, (ii) formulate scientific objectives and hypotheses within the project, (iii) plan and conduct advanced laboratory experiments and modeling calculations, (iv) compile and interpret results, (v) present results in oral seminars (including at international conferences) and as scientific publications. The work will be carried out in collaboration with supervisors and other scientists.

Competence requirements

To be admitted for studies at the third-cycle level you are required to have completed a second-cycle level degree, or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an equivalent education from abroad, or equivalent qualifications. To fulfil the specific entry requirements to be admitted for studies at third-cycle level in chemistry, you are required to have completed first-cycle courses of at least 90 ECTS credits within the field of chemistry or another subject considered to be directly relevant to the specialization. Of those 90 ECTS credits, at least 15 ECTS credits shall have been acquired at second-cycle level within the specialization or an equivalent subject. Experience of vibration spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and/or work with anaerobe bacteria cultures is meriting but not a requirement.

The successful candidate must have a very good command of written and spoken English. Experience in research related to biogeochemistry or analytical chemistry, for example by a degree work in a research group or similar, is required. You should have a strong interest in advanced experimental work and have a very good capacity to solve complex problems. You should be creative and have a focus on high quality, and you should be flexible and have an ability to persevere through changes and challenges in your work.

Terms of employment

The employment aims at a PhD degree and the main task of the PhD student is to pursue doctoral studies, which includes participation in research projects as well as postgraduate courses. The work task assignments can further include teaching and other departmental work (up to a maximum of 20%). The employment is limited to four years full-time or up to five years if including part-time teaching. The salary corresponds to the established salary level for doctoral employment.


A complete application should contain the following documents:

    • A cover letter including a description of your research interests and motivation for applying
    • A Curriculum Vitae
    • Verified copies of degree certificates or equivalent, including documentation of completed academic courses and obtained grades
    • Name and contact information of at least two reference persons

Applications are submitted via our e-recruitment system no later than 11th of April 2022 or use the button “Apply via Recruiter”.

For more information please contact Professor Erik Björn, +46 90 7865189,

About us

The PhD education will be carried out within a collaboration project between two research groups at the Department of Chemistry led by Erik Björn ( and Madeleine Ramstedt ( Also, visit our websites for further information about the PhD education ( and research ( at the Department of Chemistry. For more information about working at Umeå University, visit

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Job Features

Job CategoryTeaching and scientific research, Doctorat

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