PhD scholarship in studies of phytoplankton trait ecology
in the North Atlantic

A 3-year PhD scholarship in ocean biogeochemistry is offered by the Faroe Marine Research Institute (HAV - The scholarship is part of a new project PHYTO-TRAITS (Morphological and nutritional traits of phytoplankton blooms in the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Ocean-Shelf systems of the North Atlantic, funded by the Research council Faroe Islands ( The project is an international collaboration between several Nordic research institutes: Faroese Aquaculture Research Station ( , University of the Faroe Islands (, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, Greenland (, National Institute of natural resources, Denmark ( Research Institute for water and environment, Norway (, Finnish Environment Institute ( The successful candidate will be enrolled at the university of the Faroe Islands and will interact with collaborators from the different participating nations. Fieldwork will be carried out onboard research vessels in the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

The position is available from 1st October 2024 or later

Project Summary

The aim of PHYTO-TRAITS PhD scholarship is to understand the variability and oceanographic controls of phytoplankton trait ecology in the North Atlantic. Phytoplankton communities and oceanographic conditions are transitioning due to climate warming and ocean acidification, however, the impacts on nutritional traits that govern phytoplankton food-webs are uncertain. Through a combination of novel interdisciplinary approaches, the project aims to characterise temporal and regional variability of phytoplankton functional traits in Faroese, Greenlandic and North Atlantic marine ecosystems, linking them to trophic interactions and large-scale oceanographic features. The main objectives of the project are:

  1. Use existing time-series monitoring data from Faroese and Greenlandic observation programs to derive phytoplankton traits and compare with zooplankton ecology.
  2. Map basin-scale variability of morphological traits across phytoplankton blooms in the North Atlantic using an autonomous sampling platform and high-throughput imaging technology
  3. Implement new monitoring methods based on lipid ecology and major compound classes to link phytoplankton nutritional traits to communities, environmental controls and zooplankton ecology.

The candidate will receive training in a range of different methods and approaches including general ocean biogeochemistry, phytoplankton taxonomy, next generation sequencing, highthroughput imaging approaches, organic biogeochemistry and statistical analysis of large datasets. Upon completing the project, the candidate will have gained a broad spectrum of skills, including valuable sea-going experience. The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to lead several firstauthor publications, present at international conferences, participate in regional Nordic working groups and establish an extensive international network. This experience will provide a robust platform for a successful career in academia or industry.

Who are we looking for?

For this project, we are looking for a candidate with a systematic nature who enjoys the challenge of bringing multidisciplinary datasets together. It is and advantage if you have experience and interest in lower-trophic level ecology in marine systems. Additional skills that we are seeking are

  • strong computer and numerical skills, experience with advanced data analysis, including statistical tools and programming languages
  • experience with phytoplankton taxonomy is an advantage
  • experience with molecular biology and laboratory practice.
  • good English language skills both in oral and written
  • good collaborative and social skills

We offer

The Faroe Marine Research Institute and collaborating partners are leading institutes in lowertrophic level ecology, marine observation programs, metabarcoding of phytoplankton communities and ocean biogeochemistry. They are recognized for the excellence of their research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. The candidate will have the primary working place in the Faroe Islands, with funded research stays in Denmark, Greenland and Finland. Participation in international meetings and conferences is encouraged and expected. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Approval and Enrolment

To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc). The master should be related to the subject area of the project The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in a general degree program at University of the Faroe Islands. The primary supervisor is Dr. Ian Salter (Faroe Marine Research Institute) and main co-supervisors are Dr. Anni Djurhuus (University of the Faroe Islands) and Dr. Asa Jacobsen (FIRUM). The remainder of the Ph.D. committee panel is comprised of Dr. Thomas Juul Pedersen (Greenland Institute of Natural Resources), Dr. Sigrun Jonasdottir (DTU-Aqua), Dr. Sirpa Lehitnen (Finnish Environmental Institute).

Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the Faroese Academic Union’s agreement for Master degree, including pension grant. The employment is full-time for maximum 3 years.

Starting Date will be mutually agreed with the successful candidate, preferably in autumn 2024. It is assumed that the candidate will be living in the Faroe Islands during the scholarship.

Responsibilities and tasks in the PhD programme

  • Carry out an independent research project under supervision and in collaboration with other partners in the project
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including research stays in Greenland and Denmark
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

Further information

Further information is available from Dr. Ian Salter (, senior researcher at the Faroese Marine Research Institute and PHYTO-TRAITS project leader.

Application procedure

Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 1. September 2024 at 12:00 (Faroese time).

The application should be submitted to

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration.

The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Letter of recommendation

You may apply prior to obtaining your master’s degree, but only in special cases the University of the Faroe Islands will allow enrolment before having received the degree.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

posted: 27 June 2024     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.