PhD Fellow in Calculating Life Cycle Inventory Factors
University of Copenhagen Department of Plant and Evironmental Sciences

PhD Fellow in Calculating Life Cycle Inventory Factors and Life Cycle Assessments of Bio-Based Fertilizers

Do you want to contribute to a more sustainable future and development of solutions for the circular economy? The Soil Fertility group at Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen is offering a 3-year PhD scholarship to work on calculating life cycle inventory factors and life cycle assessments of bio-based fertilisers, commencing 1 Sept 2020, as part of the European Training Network ‘New bio-based fertilisers from organic waste upcycling (FertiCycle)’.

Description of the scientific environment

The Soil Fertility research group focuses on soil fertility issues and environmental impacts related to sustainable agriculture with a special focus on nutrient cycling and climate change. 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 work of the PhD fellow will be part of the EU FertiCycle Network, which is a multidisciplinary European Training Network (ETN) funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and nnovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. The Ferticycle Network comprises 9 world leading universities and 7 research institutions / agencies/companies in 8 European countries. The FertiCycle Network is currently recruiting 15 highly talented and motivated candidates for PhD studies, with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to help our network make successful research breakthroughs on new bio-based fertilisers from organic waste upcycling – the chosen candidate will be collaborating with these colleagues for the coming 3 years.

The PhD project will focus on environmental impacts associated with land application of bio-based fertilizers. Impacts taking place in the field as a consequence of fertilizer use or application is associated with a range of different environmental impacts. The most important ones include emission of greenhouse gases especially nitrous oxide (N2O), which leads to global warming, nitrate leaching and losses of phosphorus to the environment. These two latter can lead to eutrophication and pollution of soil with toxic heavy metals. When conducting life cycle assessment of systems involving land application of fertilizers, it is always a challenge to estimate emissions and emission coefficients for them.

The PhD student will therefore work on models that can be used to estimate emissions associated with land application of bio-based fertilizers and calculate inventory factors that can be use in life cycle assessment. This includes using models to runs scenarios with application of bio-based fertilizers and developing models for P losses and N2O emissions taking place after land application of bio-based fertilizers. After this has been done, the emission factors and other information will be used to conduct life cycle assessment of bio-based fertilizers. The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Principal supervisor will be associate professor Sander Bruun ( ), and co-supervisor professor Lars Stoumann Jensen ( , coordinator of the FertiCycle network), both at Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Job description

Your key tasks as an Early Stage Researcher (ESR) member of the Ferticycle Network and as a PhD student at the SCIENCE PhD school are to:

  • Perform independent scientific research, as well as collaborate with other members of the international FertiCycle research network.
  • Participate in international secondments (internship as visiting researcher) to other organisations in the FertiCycle network.
  • Attend the FertiCycle training programme as well as other PhD courses
  • Deliver written reports of your research on a regular basis.
  • Write and publish scientific articles related to your research project and write your PhD thesis.
  • Support the valorization of research results into tangible deliverables.
  • Participate in scientific meetings and conferences to present your research to the scientific community.
  • Actively participate in outreach activities aimed to promote your own scientific research as well as the FertiCycle network activities to a wider audience.
  • Contribute (limited) to teaching activities, as part of your own career training.

Formal requirements
Applicants for this position should have:

  • An MSc degree in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Agronomy or similar.
  • Sufficient academic skills and background to successfully complete a doctoral degree, and ability to fulfil the admission requirements of the SCIENCE doctoral program at University of Copenhagen.
  • Experience with soil processes and environmental science.
  • Interest and flair for environmental modelling.
  • Experience with life cycle assessment will be an advantage
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (excellent in written and oral English) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

Eligibility criteria

In order for applicants to be eligible for this position, they have to fullfil certain criteria:

  • H2020 MSCA Mobility Rule: applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation (in this case Denmark) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date (start of contract). Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status are not taken into account.
  • H2020 MSCA eligibility criteria: Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) must be, at the date of recruitment by the host organisation, in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Full-Time Equivalent Research Experience is measured from the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged).

Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff. The position is full-time (37 h/w) for 3 years.

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 at a minimum 328.355 (approx. €43,750) including annual supplement (+ pension at a minimum DKK 53,360). 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 and background for applying for this specific PhD project, incl. any earlier study or work experience relevant for the topic.
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any),
  • Full contact details (Name, address, telephone & email) of 1-3 professional referees

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. Note that for the EU H2020 MSCA program certain elegibility criteria apply, see above.

The deadline for applications is 14 April 2020, 23:59 GMT +2

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 at University of Copenhagen.
Recruitment will adhere to the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for Recruitment. You can read more about the recruitment process at University of Copenhagen at
For more specific information about the PhD scholarship and the contents of the FertiCycle project, please contact the principal supervisor Associate Professor, Sander Bruun, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, E-mail , Direct Phone: +45 2940 6537.
General information about PhD programmes at The PhD school of SCIENCE is available at
Further information on the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences is linked at
More info on the FertiCycle European Training Netwok can be found at (from 5 March 2020).


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: 14-04-2020
Employment start: 01-09-2020
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Plant and Evironmental Sciences

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