Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology

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The Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, Sweden invites applicants for a 2-year postdoctoral position in environmental science focused on the analysis of environmental DNA in lake sediments. The objective is to track and quantify the origin, transport, incorporation, burial and degradation of environmental DNA from aquatic microbes, zooplankton and fish in boreal lake-sediment records. The position is expected to start in January 2020 or according to agreement. The closing date is November 15, 2019.

Project description and working tasks
The possibility to make analysis of environmental DNA (eDNA) in lake sediments has opened up new avenues for paleoenvironmental research and monitoring. This approach can provide a more sophisticated description of past ecosystem dynamics, including the role of external drivers, such as climate, pollution or land use change. Even though many studies clearly demonstrate that eDNA can be extracted from sediment records, we still know very little about how eDNA is incorporated into the sediment archive and to which extent information is preserved, degraded or lost. The proposed project is largely based on data and material from a varved, boreal lake in northern Sweden, (i.e. Nylandssjön, Nordingrå). We can take advantage of an ongoing lake survey (water column, sediment trap), and a unique series of frozen sediment cores collected since 1979, which allow to analyze and track the eDNA record of specific calendar years over decades.

Specific objectives of the post-doctoral project are: (1) Assess the transfer of information reflecting contemporary lake conditions to surface sediments using eDNA methods. We hypothesize that seasonal conditions shape deposition processes of eDNA. The project will assess how well eDNA originating from aquatic ecosystems is represented in the surface sediments within a lake, and how well the eDNA record reflects the abundance of key organisms. (2) Quantify preservation and degradation of eDNA. We hypothesize that burial and aging affect the eDNA record. The project will quantify rates of eDNA degradation and damage over annual to millennial time-scales, and assess to which extent diagenetic and aging processes alter the quality of eDNA after deposition.

The position is fulltime for two years with starting date in January 2020, or as otherwise agreed.

Successful candidates must have a PhD in environmental science, molecular biology, (microbial) ecology, geoscience, limnology, or a related field. To be eligible for this position, you should have completed your doctoral degree a maximum of three (3) years before the end of the application period, unless special circumstances exist.

We seek a creative and highly motivated person with a strong work ethic and good oral and written communication skills in English. You should be able to work both independently and in collaboration with others. Prior experience with environmental DNA, freshwater/marine sediments, analysis of metabarcoding/metagenomics data and Linux cluster environment for bioinformatic analysis will all be viewed as merits.

A full application should include:

  • A personal cover letter including a description over why you are interested in this position and how you can contribute to the research project (max two pages).
  • CV including list of publications.
  • A copy of your PhD thesis and relevant publications (max five).
  • A copy of doctoral degree certificate and other relevant degree certificates.
  • Names and contact details of two references.
  • Other documents you wish to claim.

The application must be written in English or Swedish. The application is made through our electronic recruitment system on November 15, 2019 at the latest. Documents sent electronically must be in Word or PDF format.

Any additional questions about the project or application should be directed to Christian Bigler, Associate Professor, Umeå University (

The Department of Ecology and Environmental Science carries out research and postgraduate education in ecology, environmental science and physical geography. The department has about 150 employees, about 20 of who are post-docs.

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type Full time
First day of employment January 2020 or according to agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-1421-19
  • Christian Bigler, universitetslektor, 090-786 97 29
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-786 53 65
  • SEKO, 090-786 52 96
  • ST, 090-786 54 31
Published 30.Sep.2019
Last application date 15.Nov.2019 11:59 PM CET

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