PhD fellowship in soil isotope biogeochemistry

IGN, the section of geography, invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in Constraining landscape nitrogen turnover and greenhouse gas emissions by novel isotope approaches. The project is embedded in the Center for Landscape Research in Sustainable Agricultural Futures (, a pioneer center recently financed by Danish national and private research foundations.

Start date is (expected to be) 1 October 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project
Food security, climate change and loss of biodiversity represent three of today’s major societal challenges. Agricultural activity and food production has severe impacts on the environment and climate, and there’s an urgent need to finding new solutions to ensure a sustainable future. In particular we need better information about soil biogechimical processes leading to greenhouse gas emissions, and how these processes are regulated by changes in land management, not only in the field, but also across landscapes.

Studies on the isotopic composition of important nutrients such as carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) in water, soil and plant pools provides a powerful tool to identify dominant biogeochemical processes due to fractionation in isotopic composition during turnover. Hence, soil and plant enables in situ records of changes in for instance management and climate regime providing information about current and past conditions. When the isotopic composition of different sources and pools are used in combination with well constrained isotope fractionation models, the isotopic signal of few samples can be extrapolated over space, allowing for the interpretation of different and complex physical and biological processes.

The specific activities of the current project are to: i) establish geo-spatial maps of isotopic soil and plant variation across a landscape with variable land use and soil characteristics (isoscape), ii) Investigate the correlation between the isotope patterns and soil biogeochemical processes including greenhouse gas emissions, and iii) improve the parameterization of biogeochemical isotope fractionation models to extrapolate and identify soil biogeochemical hot spots and moments across selected landscapes.

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for candidates with Master degree or equivalent qualifications in soil geo- or bioscience (e.g., soil science, agronomy, geography, biology, or environmental sciences). Experience with stable isotope work is considered advantageous. Fluency in spoken and written English is expected and the possession of drivers license is recognized.

Our group and research- and what do we offer?
The project is carried out in close collaboration with other PhD-candidates and scientists in Land-Craft center Aarhus and Copenhagen Universities as well as with collaborators in Germany and the US.
Working place will be in Copenhagen but within Land-CRAFT we prioritize collaboration across the involved groups thus visits to other involved partners is envisioned.

We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to study soil and environmental isotope biogeochemistry.

Principal supervisor is Professor Per Ambus, IGN,, +45 3533 6626

The PhD programme
Qualifications needed

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. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

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.

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 15 June 2023, 23:59 GMT +2.

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. 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 31

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.


Application deadline: 15-06-2023
Employment start: 01-10-2023
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Institut for Geovidenskab og Naturforvaltning

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