3+5 PhD student on genetic mechanisms for ant caste differentiation

Department of Biology, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering a 3+5 PhD scholarship commencing 1 September 2020. The 3+5 PhD includes up to three years of master’s program followed by two years of PhD study.

Project description
The division of labor on reproduction evolved in social insects is one of the major transitions in evolution. Despite the same genotypes inherited from same mother queen, the female individuals in the colony develop into either reproductive caste or non-reproductive castes. The development of caste system normally accompanies with dramatic differences on morphologies, physiologies and behaviors that associated with their social roles. The genetic mechanisms underlying the caste development and differentiation remains poorly known. The Monomorium pharaonis is an ant species can be easily maintained in the laboratory condition, thus an excellent model for genetic study on the caste differentiation process. Our previous studies have identified many genes showing differential expression between castes during development. This phd project aims to explore the functions for some of these genes by performing RNA interference or gene knockout in Monomorium ants.

Principal supervisor is Professor Guojie Zhang in Department of Biology, E-mail guojie.zhang@bio.ku.dk Phone: +45 35321249.

Job description

The position is available for a period of up to 5 years and your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE are:

  • To manage and carry through your research project
  • Attend master and PhD courses
  • Write scientific articles and your master and PhD thesis
  • Teach and disseminate your research
  • To stay at an external research institution for a few months, preferably abroad
  • Work for the department

Formal requirements
Applicants should hold a bachelor’s degree in biology with good results and good English skills. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications emphasis will also be laid on previous study score and relevant research experience.

A strong background in relevant subjects such as insect biology, molecular biology, genetics, or developmental biology as well as experience in conducting genetic manipulation in insects and familiar with social insects will be considered an advantage. 

Terms of employment

The position is available for candidates who are (or are eligible to be) enrolled at one of the faculty’s master programmes in biology. The duration of the integrated programme depends on the amount of credits that you have passed on your MSc programme. For further information about the study programme please see: www.science.ku.dk/phd, “Study Structures”.

Scholarship and terms of employment for integrated MSc and PhD

PhD grant portions (Ph.D.SU klip)

In the period up to the completion of the MSc programme (up to three years), the student is entitled to so-called PhD grant portions. The grant portions are financed by the grant donor but not by the Danish State Educational Grant and Loan Scheme Agency (as is the case for the ordinary study grant portions on the BSc and MSc programmes). They are called PhD grant portions because this kind of remuneration is regulated and described in the Executive Order on the State Educational Grant and Loan Scheme in Denmark (SU‐bekendtgørelsen), and because the value of a PhD grant portion corresponds to the value of an ordinary Danish study grant portion. Students are awarded 48 PhD grant portions during the period of their MSc and PhD studies.

48 PhD grant portions at DKK 6,166 each, corresponding to DKK 295,968 (approx. €39,460).

'Duty work'

As a supplement to the PhD grant portions, the student may, in accordance with the collective agreement of the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC), be offered 'duty work'. In the period up to the completion of the MSc programme, students performing 'duty work' are paid by the hour. UCPH has decided to offer students on integrated MSc and PhD schemes 150 hours of 'duty work' per year during Part A of the programme (until two years of the combined programme of study remain). 'Duty work' during Part A if it has a duration of three years: 450 hours at a rate of DKK 217.94 (+ 12.5% holiday pay), corresponding to DKK 110,331 (approx. €14,710)

For further information about Part A please see: https://www.science.ku.dk/phd/studystructure/integratedphd/ 

Salary in accordance with the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional

Associations (AC)

In the period after the completion of the MSc programme, the student is employed as a PhD scholar and is remunerated in accordance with the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). The scheme is arranged in such a way that students graduate from the MSc programme at a time when there are two years left of the integrated programme. For this reason, the salary must be paid for a period of two years in accordance with the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). The amounts specified include a supplement locally agreed upon as well as pension contributions: Salary as a PhD scholar: 24 months at a rate of DKK 31,809 (including pension contributions and supplement), corresponding to DKK 763,430 (approx. €101,790).

Application Procedure

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

Please include

  • Cover Letter detailing your motivation and background for applying for the PhD project.
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc)
  • Acceptance Letter for the relevant MSc Programme at SCIENCE, if any
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any),

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

The deadline for applications is 18 February 2020, 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 more about the recruitment process at http://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/.


For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor Professor Guojie Zhang, Department of Biology, e-mail: guojie.zhang@bio.ku.dk, +45 3532 1249

General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at http://www.science.ku.dk/phd.



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.


Guojie Zhang


Application deadline: 18-02-2020
Employment start: 01-09-2020
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Biology

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