PhD Position in Natural Science, specializing in Biology

Phd candidate

Job Description


Job Title: PhD Position in Natural Science, specializing in Biology                                                                   
Accountable to:

Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (BioEnv)

Responsible for University of Gothenburg
Appointment: 2021

Location Gothenburg, Sweden
Overview of the University of Gothenburg:

The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 49 000 students and 6 400 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract scientists and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.

At the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (BioEnv) we have teaching and research activities that stretch from the alpine ecosystem, through forests, cultivated land and streams, all the way into the marine environment. In these environments we study different levels of biological organisation from genes, individuals and populations, to communities and ecosystems. We work within ecology, evolution, physiology, systematics and combinations of these fields in order to understand the impact of natural and anthropogenic changes of the environment.

The department is placed at three different localities: in Gothenburg Botanical garden, at Medicinarberget in Gothenburg and Kristineberg Marine Research Station. The current position is placed at Medicinarberget.


Overview of the project:

Motivational or emotional states can have a profound impact upon behavioural decisions and physiological responses. Although the fundamental mechanisms have been well studied in mammals we have relatively little information on the mechanisms of emotional states in fish. Further, the understanding how different motivational states affect concurrent states requires an in depth analysis of the interplay between pain fear and stress from changes in gene expression, stress physiology and performance of behaviour. Using a model species, the zebrafish, this project aims to investigate the impact of pain, fear and stress on the neurobiological and physiological responses during these important motivational drivers of strategic behavioural decision making. The project will explore the following objectives:

  • A comparison between stress-induced analgesia to drug-induced analgesia in individual and group-housed zebrafish using genomics, in situ hybridization and stress physiology
  • Investigate the interplay of pain and fear on molecular, physiological, and behavioral responses in zebrafish.
  • Exploring the neurobiological and physiological mechanisms of emotional contagion and the metabolic costs of pain, fear and stress

The Ph.D student will be situated at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences under the supervision of Dr Lynne Sneddon , Dr Jonathan Roques and Dr Petronella Kettunen (Department for Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg) and in collaboration with Dr Marco Vindas (Department of Preclinical Sciences and Pathology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences). Therefore, the position will involve a short visit to Norway to conduct the genomic analyses. The project is largely experimental using techniques in genomics, in situ hybridization, stress physiology and animal behavior in a laboratory setting.

Overview of the lab:
We are a research group in comparative skeletal biology starting in the Zoology Dept at Trinity College. Our group mixes zoology, engineering/biomaterials, marine science and design approaches to study biology (e.g. using microCT, microscopy, material characterization, 3D printing). The funded work will involve collaboration with physiologists, roboticists and designers at other institutions, while benefitting from the organismal biology experience of the diverse and innovative Zoology department.

The main task is to conduct the PhD thesis work under supervision, which includes development of the PhD student’s methodology experience, analytical skills, and theoretical depth and breadth. Techniques used within the project include genomics, molecular biology, physiology, neuroanatomy, and behavior. The studies will be conducted mostly as laboratory studies. Shorter periods may also be spent as laboratory work with collaborators abroad. Specific research topics associated with the research project include the mechanisms of behavioral states and the interplay of pain, fear and stress using zebrafish as a model.

To be eligible for third-cycle studies, the applicant must meet both the general and specific entry requirements. A person meets the general entry requirements for third-cycle courses and study programs if he/she:
1. has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
2. has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle, or
3. has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

To meet the specific entry requirements for third-cycle studies, applicants must:
1. have a second-cycle (advanced-level) degree in a relevant* subject area in the natural sciences, or
2. have completed studies for at least 60 higher education credits at a second-cycle level in relevant subject areas in the natural sciences, or
3. have completed a corresponding programme of relevance to the planned third-cycle programme, in Sweden or in another country, or have equivalent qualifications.

*Relevant subjects for the planned third-cycle education are one of animal behavior, neurobiology, molecular biology or physiology.


Application Process

  • A short cover letter with the applicant’s justification for the application, i.e., that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
  • An attested list of qualifications (CV)
  • Examination certificates and a transcript of courses with grades
  • A copy of the Master thesis (or equivalent)
  • Employments certificates and other documents deemed important by the applicant
  • Names and emails addresses of two referees

The top ranked candidates will be invited for an interview, which might be held in English and could also be performed by Zoom.

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. The selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application.

For further information please contact
Dr Lynne U. Sneddon, Senior Lecturer, becoming supervisor.
Phone: +46 (0) 766 18 36 07


Henrik Aronsson, Professor and Head of Department
Phone: +46 (0) 31 786 48 02