PhD Fellowships in processes controlling transport of plant nutrients contained in nanoparticles (NPs) to produce the next generation fertilizers

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen is offering two 3-year PhD positions operating at the interface between Plant Nutrition and Bio-Nanotechnology, financed by NovoNordiskFonden. The start date is expected to be 15 May 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project
In the project we study processes controlling transport of plant nutrients contained in nanoparticles (NPs) across the leaf surface, to produce the next generation of more efficient, sustainable and climate-friendly fertilizers.

We want to improve our understanding of how NPs interact with plant tissue at the tissue and cellular levels. Specifically, we want to study how NPs can be tailored to penetrate barriers at the leaf surface and within the mesophyll and vascular tissue to become internalized by the cell and/or translocated towards sink organs. In the projects, we take a mechanistic approach to gain an improved understanding on how the processes are controlled at the molecular and cellular levels. We will have a strong focus on how the nutritional status of plants influence how NPs interact with plants.

Tasks and responsibilities

  • Carry out an independent research project under supervision
  • Study the effects of plant nutritional status, leaf wetting and hydraulic activation of stomates on NP uptake
  • Develop chemical tagging procedures to follow NPs as they cross barriers, internalize and/or translocate using e.g. confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), laser ablation ICP-MS and X-ray tomography
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration with other research group members and external partners
  • Draft scientific papers related to research project
  • Participate in scientific meetings and conferences to present your research
  • Plan outreach activities to promote your scientific research to a wider audience
  • Contribute to teaching activities, as part of your own academic career training
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for candidates with a solid plant science, biochemistry and/or environmental chemistry background, and a strong interest in cross-disciplinary science. Applicants for the position should ideally meet the following specific requirements:

  • A MSc degree documenting excellence in one or more of the following: Plant Science, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Nanotechnology or Biotechnology
  • Skills in inorganic, organic and analytical chemistry
  • Strong communication skills
  • Excellence in written and oral English

Our research group - what do we offer?
The successful candidate will be working in a large cross-disciplinary research project funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. In the project, a group of chemists, physicists, materials scientists, plant scientists and agronomists from University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark and McGill University in Canada will develop a novel generation of biocompatible and sustainable NP-based fertilizers with superior abilities to deliver mineral nutrients to crops in a timely and more resource-efficient manner. To achieve this very ambitious goal we need to understand the pathways for NP uptake and how they interact with plants at the mechanistic level.

Our research ambitions are high, and we strive to publish our work in top-tier journals. The research environment is vibrant, friendly, collaborative and international, consisting of scientists and students with diverse cultural and academic backgrounds. Our research group consists of +15 motivated scientists at different stages in their career, which enables sparring on how to shape a successful academic career.

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences is located in central Copenhagen at the Frederiksberg Campus. Copenhagen ranks among the most livable cities of the world and has several times been voted the number one capital in annual quality of life surveys.

Principal supervisor is Professor Søren Husted, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences,, direct phone: +45 35333498.

The PhD programme
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.

Qualifications needed
To be eligible for the 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. Environmental science, Plant sciences or Agronomy. 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 available)
  5. Reference letters (if available)

Application deadline
The deadline for applications is 1 March  2024, 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

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact project manager Vandasue Saltenis by email: or  Professor Søren Husted . 

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.


Søren Husted


Application deadline: 01-03-2024
Employment start: 15-05-2024
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
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