Postdoc in Ecological Modelling

A 2-year postdoc position in terrestrial ecology with a focus on modelling ecosystem nitrogen input via moss-cyanobacteria associations and resource optimization of nitrogen fixation in mosses is available at the Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, commencing 1 September 2023.

Description of the scientific environment
The successful applicant will be based at the Centre of Volatile Interactions, VOLT, within the Terrestrial Ecology Section, thereby joining a lively research environment covering a wide range of topics such as plant ecophysiology, ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, soil biology and ecosystem-atmosphere interactions. Our section is a diverse group comprising research and teaching staff members, laboratory technicians, PhD candidates and MSc and BSc students, focussing on many aspects of plant and microbial ecology, biogeochemistry and global change. The successful candidate will be hosted by Associate Professor Kathrin Rousk and will join the Ecosystem Ecology group focussing on moss-cyanobacteria associations in different ecosystems, from the Arctic to the Tropics.

Overall description of the project
The postdoctoral position is part of a 5-year Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) led by Kathrin Rousk. The main goal of the postdoctoral project is to model ecosystem nitrogen (N) input via moss-associated N2 fixation in boreal forests and tropical cloud forests, and to model the resource optimization of moss-associated N2 fixation. The ultimate goal is to constrain and parameterize a dynamic vegetation model (i.e. LPJ-GUESS).

While biological N2 fixation is included in different vegetation models such as LPJ-GUESS as a function of ecosystem evapotranspiration (ET), the model currently lacks consideration of moss-associated N2 fixation and therefore cannot capture seasonal dynamics in high latitude systems that we observe. Further, the dependence on evapotranspiration leads to high estimates of ecosystem N2 fixation in moist forests, and underestimates in drier systems. Thus, the model will benefit from improved parameterization supplied by our empirical work along the climatic gradients we study in the ERC project.

Main project aims, tasks and responsibilities
The postdoctoral candidate will measure ET from mosses under controlled conditions in the lab to establish the dependence of N2 fixation on ET. Beyond that, with the help of our collected data in the field and previous laboratory assessments, the postdoctoral researcher will establish relationships between N2 fixation rates and moisture, light and temperatures recorded within the moss carpets in the field, and link this to air temperatures recorded at climate stations. With the established dependence of N2 fixation on these factors, the aim is to scale our data to ecosystem level using the process-based model LPJ-GUESS. The second aim for the postdoctoral project is to identify the resource optimization of N2 fixation by cyanobacteria on mosses.

The postdoctoral researcher will help other researchers in the project (e.g. with data collection and analyses), and will co-supervise BSc and MSc students. Data analyses, interpretation, and manuscript writing are also part of the tasks of the postdoctoral researcher.

We are looking for a highly motivated and ambitious candidate with a PhD degree within quantitative ecology, modelling of biological systems, process modelling of nutrient cycling, individual based modelling of interactions between plants and associated microorganisms, or similar. Fluency in written and spoken English is a requirement, as well as excellent writing skills demonstrated by the publication record, as well as good communication skills. Candidates with skills and expertise listed below will be preferred. 

The ideal candidate has expertise in the development/parameterization/validation of mechanistic models (numerical/individual-based/process-based) combined with knowledge and experience from theoretical and experimental ecology, as well as expertise in multivariate statistics and project coordination.

For further information about the position, please contact Kathrin Rousk (  

Further information on the Department can be found here:  

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. 

Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.  

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.  

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.  

Please include  

  • Cover letter describing motivation and project related research experience (1-2 pages)
  • Curriculum vita 
  • Complete publication list 
  • Separate reprints of 2 relevant papers 
  • Copy of PhD diploma   
  • Full contact details (name, address, telephone & email) of 2 professional referees

The deadline for applications is 15 June 2023, 23:59 UCT+1

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee.  

You can read about the recruitment process at


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 15-06-2023
Employment start: 01-09-2023
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Biology

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