Postdoc position in Soil Science – How soil physical structure in the Rhizosphere determines the fate of root derived carbon in soils

A 2-year PostDoc position is available at the Department of Geosciences & Natural Resource Management University of Copenhagen, Denmark, with an expected start 01 March 2023 or shortly thereafter.  

About “RootCarb”
Soils not only provide the basis for human life, soils are also important to meet climate mitigation and biodiversity goals at regional, and even global scales. To reach these goals soil organic carbon plays a central role. For the storage and stability of soil carbon, plants and their roots are an important regulating factor. This regulation is based on the complex interplay of plant roots, soil microorganisms and mineral soil particles. Although we know of the importance of roots, we still do not fully understand how plant root traits affect the stability of soil carbon and the release of greenhouse gases. We also still lack a deeper understanding of the underlying biogeochemical processes between plant roots, microorganisms and soil particles that foster the persistence of originally plant root derived soil organic matter. The 5 year project “Understanding the regulation of soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions by plant-root-microorganism interactions” is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation in the frame of the Ascending Investigator program, led by PI Assoc. Prof. Carsten W. Mueller. ‘RootCarb’ will provide both, the fundamental scientific understanding of how plant roots regulate soil carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions, and practical proxies to be used in future agricultural management to sustain healthy and productive soils.

About your part in the project
In your project part you will target the fate of plant root derived organic matter as a function of 3D soil structure and soil mineral composition. Thus, together we will aim at better understanding the interactions of plant roots and their traits, microbial activity and the physical soil structure that regulate the fate of persistent soil organic matter. The work will range from highly controlled experiments at lab scale to field trials in which we will test root-microorganism-soil interactions. You will apply stable isotope tracing, classical soil biogeochemical methods as well as state-of-the-art spectromicroscopic imaging techniques (e.g. scanning electron microscopy, nano-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry) to underpin quantitative data with in-situ process scale observations. A special emphasize will be put on the application of x-ray µCT in combination with other imaging techniques to elucidate chemical gradients. 

On general terms, you will be explicitly encouraged to actively bring in your own ideas and vision to make use of the project as a platform to further shape your own scientific profile and network as an independent researcher. 

About the host institute
University of Copenhagen is the largest research and education institution in Denmark. Internationally, the University is highly competitive and is ranked as one of the leading universities globally with the most recent Shanghai rankings placed the University as No. 30 worldwide and No. 6 in Europe. This is also reflected by its membership of the prestigious International Alliance of Research Universities.
Your work place will be the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN), which conducts research and education on the past, present and future physical, chemical and biological environments of the Earth and their interactions with societal and human systems to provide graduates and research in support of sustainable future solutions for society. 

The department has strong experience in interdisciplinary collaboration. You will further be affiliated with the Section for Geography at IGN and be a member of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Analysis research group in this section. The research group focuses on a deeper understanding of physical, geochemical and biological processes in terrestrial ecosystems.   

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 Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. 
Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.

Requirements for applying for the position
Applicants have to hold a PhD degree in soil science, biology, geoscience, biogeochemistry, agronomy, forest science or a closely related field. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will be laid on publication record and relevant work experience.
We are seeking a highly motivated and ambitious individual with good interpersonal and communication skills. We are looking for and will prioritize applicants with combined experiences of:

  • strong knowledge on soil biogeochemical processes with special emphasize on rhizosphere processes and soil organic matter cycling
  • record of experience with imaging techniques and image processing to study chemical and biological gradients in soils
  • practical experience in planning and conducting lab and field experiments with plant-soil systems 
  • experience with trace gas measurements and chemical soil analyses including soil organic matter studies 
  • knowledge about and experience with statistical data analysis 
  • expertise in application of x-ray computer tomography and the associated image analysis on soil and plant samples are a merit

Applicants must be fluent in both written and spoken English to a level sufficiently high for communication and dissemination at an academic level.

Further information on the Department is linked at For specific information about the position, applicants should contact principal supervisor Associate Professor, Carsten W. Mueller, Geography Section, University of Copenhagen,, +45 35334125.

Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

  1. Motivation letter of application (max. one page)
  2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. A short scientific introduction to the topic and research of this project, including your suggestions for methods (max. one page, cited literature excluded)
  4. Publication list with highlighting 2 main publications for which to include a short explanation of own contribution, novelty, impact of research and relevance for the project (max. 1 page)
  5. Doctoral/PhD degree diploma 

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

The closing date for applications is 18 December 2022, 23:59 GMT +1.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications or letters of recommendation that do not live up to the above-mentioned requirements.

The further process
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

Interviews for the position will be held in January 2023 in person or via Skype, Zoom, or equivalent.


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: 18-12-2022
Employment start: 01-03-2023
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Institut for Geovidenskab og Naturforvaltning

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