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PhD fellow within life cycle assessment of technologies to close nutrient cycles and decrease environmental impacts of agricultural production

The Soil Fertility Group, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen is offering a 3-ear PhD scholarship. The position is open from 1 April 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter. Place of employment will be at Thorvaldsensvej 40, 1871 Frederiksberg C, Denmark. 
Description of the scientific environment  
The Soil Fertility research group focuses on soil and waste organic matter decomposition processes and soil nutrient turnover, availability and losses in agro-ecosystems. Our research aims at a mechanistic understanding of soil nutrient and organic matter dynamics at both the level of micro-scale biogeophysical processes and at eco-system scales, in the pursuit of increased nutrient use efficiency, improved crop productivity and reduced environmental impacts from agriculture in the 21st century.  
Project description 
The PhD fellow will be working on an EU H2020 research and development project, titled Nutri2Cycle - Transition towards a more carbon and nutrient efficient agriculture in Europe. The Nutri2cycle project starts from existing element flows and farm management systems and will propose, test and implement more innovative technologies to better close the nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon loops for sustainable European farming systems. The aim is to enable a transition from the current suboptimal nutrient household to the next-generation of agronomic practices, characterized by an improved recycling of nutrients (in particular N and P) as well as sustaining soil organic C. 
Job description  
The PhD fellow’s duties will include conducting life cycle assessment (LCA) of technologies or solutions developed to close the nutrient cycles of agricultural systems, such as manure and organic waste processing for into -based fertilisers or variable rate fertilization in precision farming.  The aim is to evaluate and compare their ability to reduce the overall environmental impacts of food and biomass production when seen in a life cycle perspective. Tasks will include literature reviews and data collection, LCA modelling and interpretation of results. The PhD student will be working with data from other project partners as well as literature and Eurostat data on farming, crop cultivation and fertilisation practices. The PhD fellow will furthermore collaborate closely with a postdoc in the project, also placed in the Soil Fertility group, who will be doing inventory modelling on the various technologies of the most important emissions to the environment, to be used as input to the life cycle inventory analysis by the PhD student. The PhD fellow will need to attend PhD courses and to disseminate research results. The post may also include limited teaching and other duties. It is anticipated that the PhD study will be undertaken in collaboration with University of Ghent, Belgium, including a secondment stay, potentially leading to a double PhD degree from the two universities. 
Required qualifications 
The ideal applicant holds professional as well as personal skills and qualifications as stated below: 
  • Applicants should have a MSc degree in agricultural or environmental engineering, agronomy, environmental science or related disciplines. 
  • Knowledge of ecology and the mechanisms that determine the turnover, transport and losses of nutrients and carbon in soil-plant-atmosphere and farming systems. 
  • Experience with LCA modelling and LCA software such as OpenLCA, Gabi or SigmaPro. 
  • Basic understanding of simulation modelling and application in agricultural systems. 
  • Good interpersonal skills, experience with working in larger multinational teams. 
  • Excellent English writing and speaking abilities. 
Key criteria for the assessment of candidates 
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the position  
  • Publications (if any) 
  • Relevant work experience  
  • Other professional activities  
  • Language skills 
Further information on the Department is linked at Inquiries about the position can be made to Associate Professor Sander Bruun,, phone +45 3533 3481. 
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 starting salary is currently minimum DKK 322,642 including annual supplement (+ pension). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible. 
Application Procedure 
The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.  
Please include:  
  • Cover letter, detailing your motivation for the application and how your background contributes to the project 
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Diplomas (BSc and MSc degree or equivalent)  
  • Research plan – description of current and future research plans 
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any) 
  • Full contact details (Name, address, telephone & email) of 1-3 professional referees 
The deadline for applications is 13 January 2019, 23:59 GMT +1.  
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee. The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above mentioned skills. The successful candidate will then be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD school of Science. 
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.


Sander Bruun


Application deadline: 13-01-2019
Employment start: 01-04-2019
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

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