PhD Scholarship in Bio-inspired and Bionic Materials for Enhanced Photosynthesis
University of Copenhagen Department of Biology

PhD scholarship in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network on Bio-inspired and bionic materials for enhanced photosynthesis (BEEP).

Department of Biology 
Faculty of Science 
University of Copenhagen

Department of Biology, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering 1 PhD scholarship in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Network on Bio-inspired and bionic materials for enhanced photosynthesis (BEEP). The PhD scholar ship shall investigate the role of fluorescent host pigments for photosynthesis and optics in corals.

Scientific environment 

The BEEP training network is financed by the European Commission Horizon 2020. It unites 9 beneficiaries and 8 partner organisations from both the academic and industrial sectors from 6 countries (United Kingdom, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark, USA). More information about the network can be found at

The BEEP network provides research and training opportunities for early-stage researchers in the field of bio-mimetic approaches for light management.  Scientifically, BEEP aims to i) unravel the fundamental strategies of light management in macroalgae, corals, bacteria, as well as sea-slugs with sequestered chloroplasts, and ii) apply such knowledge for creating novel artificial and bionic photosynthetic systems.

Research within the network encompasses a number of disciplines ranging from organic, inorganic, physical chemistry to the material and biological sciences. In addition, inter-sectorial collaboration is promoted through short- and long-term secondments between academic and non-academic participants. The aim of the research programme is to provide its PhD candidates with the practical skills and knowledge so that they can perform top-level research, both in the academic and non-academic sectors. The network-wide training programme consists of workshops and schools. It has been specifically designed to equip the researchers with a balance of research-related and transferable skills, which will enhance their career perspectives.

The specific PhD project will be within Prof Kühl’s group, which is based at the Marine Biological Section labs in Helsingør (approximate 45 train ride north of Copenhagen; see. The group is recognized worldwide for its pioneering work on microenvironmental analyses of aquatic symbioses (corals, foraminifera and ascidians) with special emphasis on understanding their bio-optical properties and photobiology (for more information see:  

Project topic: The role of fluorescent host pigments for photosynthesis and optics in corals   

Many corals synthesize conspicuous fluorescent pigments in their tissues, which are organized either above or in between their microalgal symbionts. The role(s) of such fluorescent host pigments for coral optics and photosynthesis remain underexplored, albeit recent work indicates that light propagation the thermal microenvironment of corals can be strongly influenced by fluorescent host pigments. In the PhD project, the optical properties of fluorescent host pigments will be studied with microsensors, bioimaging (optical coherence tomography, hyperspectral imaging, chemical imaging, light-sheet microscopy) and fast spectroscopy techniques (in collaboration with BEEP project partners). Besides optical characterization and modeling of the coral light field, experimental work will involve measurements of photosynthesis and behavior in intact corals. The goal is to unravel fundamental mechanism, whereby fluorescent host pigments affect photosynthetic efficiency in corals. 

Principal supervisor is Prof. Michael Kühl, Marine Biological Section, Department of Biology (, Phone: +45 4047 6304)..

Who are we looking for? 

We are looking for highly motivated researchers with an excellent academic background either in Chemistry, Material Science, Biology or Physics (or related disciplines including engineering)

Marie Curie Training Networks offer a unique opportunity to get cutting-edge training in a multidisciplinary environment with a focus on academic and personal development of the PhD fellows. The supervisors in the BEEP network each provide specific competences and as part of the network you develop your skills and carry out research both independently and as part of a network of 9 PhD fellows. The consortium ensures exchange of ideas through network-wide training events, summer schools and intersectoral secondments. As a PhD fellow in the BEEP network, you need to have good social skills, be innovative and goal-oriented and be willing to conduct the planned secondments.  

Formal requirements

Applicants should hold, or be close to completing, an MSc or MEng in Chemistry, Material Science, Biology or Physics (or related disciplines). Knowledge of (bio)physics, (bio)optics, numerical modelling of light propagation, and materials characterization are considered great advantages. Excellent command of spoken and written English is required. As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be laid on previous publications (if any) and relevant work experience. 

Job conditions 

The PhD student will be appointed under a 3-year employment contract with a competitive salary and mobility allowance at the host institution.
The fellow is expected to start on September 1, 2020 or there after. The PhD student will be enrolled in the PhD program of the Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, with the specific intent that it results in a PhD degree and scientific publications. 

Job description 

The position is available for a 3-year period. Your key tasks as a PhD student at SCIENCE and the BEEP network are. 

  • To manage and carry through your research project 
  • Attend PhD courses both within and outside the BEEP network 
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis 
  • Participate in international congresses and BEEP network meetings 
  • Stay at research institutions abroad for secondments 
  • Disseminate your research 

EU eligibility criteria for candidates 

  • The applicant may be of any nationality but in order to be eligible for the positions the following criteria applies to all applicants: Applicants must at the time of recruitment
  • Have a BSc and a MSc or equivalent in Chemistry, Physics, Biology or a related discipline
  • Be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers
  • Have not been awarded a doctoral degree
  • Have not resided in the country of the host beneficiary (Denmark) for more than 12 months in the last 3 years

Application procedure

Please include:  

  • Cover Letter, detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project (max. 2 pages) 
  • CV (max. 2 pages) including a list of publications (if any) 
  • Summary of last degree thesis (1 page) 
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc) 
  • Two references and full contact details (name, address, telephone & email) of professional referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation 

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

IMPORTANT! In addition to your application at University of Copenhagen, please do ALSO simultaneously apply via this link:

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

The deadline for applications is 14 june 2020, 23:59 GMT +1.

 Applications received after the deadline for applications will not be considered.  

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. You can read more about the recruitment process at General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at

Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.  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 DKK 329.842 including annual supplement (+ pension up to DKK 43.219). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.


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: 14-06-2020
Employment start: 01-09-2020
Department/Location: Department of Biology

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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