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A full-time 4 year PhD researcher in community ecology, Research Unit of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology (Belgium)


A full-time 4 year PhD researcher in community ecology

University faculty : Sciences 
Department : Biology – Research Unit of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology (Belgium) 
Starting date : 10/1/2018 
Grade : Post-doctoral researcher 
Contract : fixed term contract 
Category : scientific personnel 


Job description

The candidate will combine microcosm experiments with (statistical and mechanistic) modelling to examine the effects of global change (temperature and pollution) on coexistence in competitive phytoplankton communities.

Frederik De Laender will supervise the PhD research, which is part of the multidisciplinary project DIVERCE (coordinator: F. De Laender). DIVERCE aims at understanding the influence of intraspecific diversity on species coexistence and ecosystem function under global change. DIVERCE includes three study systems including, apart from phytoplankton, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and freshwater ciliates. The offered position focuses on the phytoplankton system. Two project partners, located in Belgium at the university of Louvain la Neuve (PIs: Nicolas Schtickzelle, Stephan Declerck), are responsible for the other two systems. Collaborations are planned with the university of Zürich (Frank Pennenkamp) and the CNRS at Moulis (Delphine Legrand).

The successful candidate will intensely collaborate with two other PhD students, also hired on the project and working on the other two study systems (ciliates and fungi). The objective of that collaboration is to develop a common experimental design and an analytical methodology to allow across-system hypothesis testing. During the last two years of the PhD position, also the support of a post-doc will be available.


Skills and qualifications

Candidates should:

  1. have a good knowledge of R;
  2. have a genuine interest in theoretical ecology and statistics; (3) be able to speak, read, and write fluently in English. Prior experience with performing experiments is a plus.

Specific Requirements

Candidates should hold a master (or an equivalent degree) in biology, bioscience engineering, mathematics, physics, or environmental sciences.

Applications of candidates already holding a PhD degree will not be considered

Even though the position is fully funded throughout the 4 years, candidates are required to apply for their own PhD scholarship during the first (and if needed, second) year of their enrolment. This will be done in close collaboration with their promotor (F. De Laender). If the selected candidate has limited experimental skills, she/he needs to be willing to follow dedicated courses to acquire such skills.

Additional information


Contract: fixed term contract for 4 years.


At the host lab at the university of Namur, there is ample funding and equipment available (e.g. a flow cytometer and 10 incubators) to carry out the planned research. The candidate will be part of a larger, dynamic research team, consisting of 8 other PhD students, 2 technicians, and a postdoc. The host lab is internationally visible because it collaborates with several high-ranked universities and institutes and regularly publishes in high-profile journals. The PhD candidate is expected to have produced high quality publications and have established an international network of fellow ecologists upon completion of the thesis.

Namur is a small city located in the French-speaking part of Belgium, of which it is the capital. It is located 80km south (or 1h by train) of Brussels.

Eligibility criteria

Please refer to “Specific Requirements”

Selection process

After the application deadline, candidates selected for a job interview and an assignment will be shortlisted.

This assignment may consist of one or several of the following:

  • a programming task,
  • reading and reporting on a scientific paper,
  • a writing exercise.

These assignments are expected to take place late August. The results of the selection process will be communicated around 01/09/2018.


Applicants should send their CV, a motivation letter and a summary of their master (or equivalent) thesis to: no later than 01/08/2018.


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