PhD Position in Nano-Biotechnology and Plant Science
University of Copenhagen Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

PhD in Nano-Biotechnology and Plant Science

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering a PhD position in Nano-Biotechnology and Plant Science commencing 1 March 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The position is available for 3 years.

Description of the scientific environment

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences has a focus on plants, soil, microorganisms, animals and the environment as a basis for sustainable production of food and other biological products. Research and teaching cover natural resources, agriculture, biotechnology and synthetic biology from the molecular level to the ecosystem scale.

The advertised position is anchored in the Plant Nutrition research group where our main focus is on nutrient acquisition and utilization by higher plants and the functional properties of mineral elements in plant metabolism and productivity. Our overall goal is to increase nutrient use efficiency by contributing to development of new fertilization strategies, the latter incorporating nanotechnology and novel analytical tools for diagnosing the nutritional status of plants.

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 nanoparticle-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 nanoparticle uptake and how they interact with plant cells at the mechanistic level. This knowledge will allow us to tailor nanoparticles with smart properties to enhance nutrient uptake and utilization in metabolism.

Our research ambitions are high and we strive to publish our work in leading journals. The research environment is vibrant, friendly, collaborative and international, consisting of scientists and students with diverse cultural and academic backgrounds. 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.

Project background

Crops take up a minor fraction of most soil-applied nutrients. This wasteful practice burdens plant producers with costs, unnecessarily large carbon footprints and eutrophication of the aquatic environment. Foliar fertilization bypasses chemical and microbial immobilization in the soil system and may therefore potentially eliminate most of the disadvantages linked to classical soil based fertilization. Foliar fertilization is a well-established agricultural practice worldwide for a range of essential plant nutrients and crop species. However, for some nutrients, the efficiency remains very poor and for some crops the procedure is so inefficient that foliar fertilization is little used. This includes crops of major economical importance across agriculture, horticulture and forestry, which all have leaves covered by resistant and hydrophobic cuticles. In this project, we will explore these resistant pathways in order to circumvent them, by utilizing the most recent advances within plant biology, nanotechnology and medical drug delivery. Using a highly interdisciplinary approach, we will develop a unique portfolio of foliar fertilizers that can penetrate leaf cuticles and facilitate targeted nutrient delivery to photosynthetically active tissue in crops, and thereby provide a breakthrough in productivity, sustainability and climate friendliness of crop production.

Job description

  • Synthesis and characterization of biocompatible nanoparticles with smart properties to deliver essential mineral elements to crops
  • Tailor nanoparticle surfaces with properties allowing targeted delivery and programmed release of mineral elements to key entry points in metabolism
  • Study leaf surface barriers and cellular internalization at the micro- and nano scale using a range of mineral element bioimaging techniques such as LA-ICP-MS, X-ray techniques, Confocal Microscopy and Electron Microscopy.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration with other research group members
  • Draft scientific papers related to your research project
  • Participate in scientific meetings and conferences to present your research
  • Plan outreach activities to promote your scientific research to a wider audience
  • Participate in PhD courses and complete your PhD thesis
  • Contribute to teaching activities, as part of your own academic career training

Formal requirements

We are looking for a highly motivated and conscientious MSc candidate, with a strong interest in cross-disciplinary science. Applicants for the position should ideally meet the following specific requirements:

• A MSc degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology or Plant Science
• Excellent skills in general chemistry and biochemistry
• Interest in organic and inorganic chemical synthesis
• Excellence in written and oral English

Further information on the Department can be found at For specific information about the position, please contact Professor Søren Husted,

The position is open from 1 March 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Terms of employment

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. a MSc degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology or Plant Science. 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.

The terms of employment and salary are in accordance to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

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

Responsibilities and tasks in both PhD programmes

  • 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

Application and Assessment Procedure

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

Please include

  1. Cover letter motivating your application (max. one page)
  2. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other relevant skills.  
  3. Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science and 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 is accepted.
  4. Publication list (if possible)
  5. Reference letters (from relevant supervisors )

The deadline for applications is 1 February 2022, 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.

You can read about the recruitment process at

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


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: 01-02-2022
Employment start: 01-03-2022
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

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