PhD fellowship in Environmental Toxicology


PhD Project in Assessing the effect of chemical mixtures and variable temperatures on the growth of aquatic plants by the use of mechanistic models.

Department of Environmental Science, Section of Environmental Chemistry and Physics, invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in Effect-directed modelling of primary producers: integrating variable exposures of chemical mixtures under different temperature scenarios. The project is part of the Horizon Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action QTOX, harbouring a total of 10 PhD-positions and financed by the European Commision

Call H2021-MSCA-DN-01 – Acronym: QTOX

Start date is 1 February 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project

It is impossible to assess the risk of all chemical pollutants to all species in the environment at all sorts of environmental conditons. Chemical risk assessments therefore depend on models which can predict the chemical fate and biological effect across species and endpoints. Several models exsist but few are fully evaluated for their ability to predict fate and effects under nature like conditions. The overall aim of QTOX is to address the robustness of models based on mechanistic knowledge of the underlying processes in the chain from exposure to effects, across all levels of biological organisation, with close connection to regulatory endpoints, and under environmentally realistic conditions, i.e., including the dynamics of chronic exposures to mixtures of chemicals. The robustness of all models will be evaluated on microcosm scenarios under two environmental regimes in Spain and Holland, respectively. Read more about the project on

The objective of the current PhD is to test the ability of TKTD models for primary producers to predict effects of chemical mixtures of herbicides, applied at variable exposures mimicking those occurring from drift and run-off scenarios under variable temperature regimes.

We expect that the will parameterise the TKTD model for Lemna minor for herbicides with different toxicological modes of action at different temperatures. Then the models will be validated under variable exposure and temperature scenarios of the individual herbicides and their mixtures, mimicking exposure scenarios predicted by chemical fate models such as the FOCUS model. Finally the models will be validated on the scenarios tested in the mesocosms where also variable irradiance and possible competition with algae and other macrophytes and predation by herbivores may contribute to the observed effects. The PhD will characterise the predictive ability of the macrophyte model(s) to predict growth under variable chemical and temperature exposure in the lab and under realistic exposure scenarios, where other stress factors are also occurring.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for candidates within the field(s) of biology or environmental toxicology, ideally with insights in plant physiology. Knowledge of statistical and mechanistic modelling is an advantage.

Our group and research- and what do we offer?

As a PhD you will be part of the research group of Environmental Toxicology ( in the Section of Environmental Chemistry and Physics. We have a well equipped ecotox lab, and collaborate closely with analytical and environmental chemists on a wide range of pollution problems. Being part of the Department of Plant and Environmental Science, we also have access to state of the art plant growth facilities and a wealth of methods to assess parameters essential for plant growth and stress recovery. You will work close together with another PhD from the QTOX project, who will also be based in Copenhagen.

We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. The PhD includes four secondment periods: Two times app. 2 weeks internship at University of Valencia with As.. Prof. Andreu Rico to help with monitoring and measuring in the microcosm facility there, a two week stay at UFZ, Leibzig with Professor Beate Escher to learn how to extrapolate results from cell-based assays to primary producers, and a 6 month stay and Bayer, Mohnheim, within the effect-model group of Thomas Preuss to parameterise, adjust, develop and implement TKTD models for primary producers on Lemna or Myriophyllum.

Principal supervisor is professor Nina Cedergreen, Department of Plant and Environmental Science, E-mail:, Direct Phone: +45 35 33 33 97, Mobile Phone: +45 29 61 17 43.

The position is a three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree.

Getting into a position on the regular PhD programme

Qualifications needed for the regular programme
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. biology, plant science or environmental science. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

Applicants can be of any nationality but must comply with the Horizon Europe MSCA eligibility criteria: HORIZON MSCA Mobility Rule: researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays and time spent by the researcher as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.

HORIZON MSCA eligibility criteria: supported researchers must be doctoral candidates, i.e. not already in possession of a doctoral degree at the date of the recruitment. Researchers who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will not be considered eligible.

Terms of employment in the regular programme
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

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. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

We are looking for the following qualifications:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other relevant professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in plant physiology and mechanistic modelling
  • Good language skills

Application and Assessment Procedure

 Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  2. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  4. Publication list (if possible)
  5. Reference letters (if available)

Application deadline:

The deadline for applications is 16 December 2022, 23:59 GMT +1.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at

Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in week 3 and 4 in 2023.

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 







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.


Nina Cedergreen


Application deadline: 16-12-2022
Employment start: 01-02-2023
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: PLEN
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