We are offering a PhD fellowship in human-microbe interactions in food fermentation commencing in March 2022.
Our group and research
This work will take place in the context of the Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics. At the center, diverse scholars from around the world are revisiting the story of humans and animals more generally from the “hologenomic perspective,” in which animals and their microbes–be they bacteria, fungi (such as yeasts) or other taxa–are considered holistically.
In general, the student will consider the evolutionary relationship between humans and the microbes associated with fermented foods. They will do so while working in the rapidly growing field of human microbiome research at the interfaces of evolutionary biology, genomics, microbiology, biogeography and history/prehistory. As an example, a project might be developed as follows… Humans are known to have relied on yeasts, specifically strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to make beer and bread for many thousands of years. Today, these yeasts are found in homes, on human bodies and in fermented foods around the world. Historically, it was thought that such yeasts were everywhere and simply colonized fermented foods from the air or the environment more generally. More recently, it has become clear that these yeasts have traveled the world with and even on humans. One version of this PhD project would tell the study the story of these yeasts, but rather than doing so from the human perspective (assuming humans control the yeasts and the big story), from the yeasts’ perspective. After all, the global populations of yeasts are far larger than global human populations (they have benefited more from us than the reverse) and the products produced by yeasts affect many aspects of human behavior (via their products, such as beer, wine and bread). In this framing, the story of yeasts is not so unlike, for example, the story of the Ophiocordyceps fungi that produce compounds that alter the behavior of ants in ways that benefit the fungi (but not the ants). In this PhD, we propose to take the perspective of yeasts, and other-fermentation associated microbes, more seriously.
If focused on yeasts, this project could include at least three elements. First, the student would work with our team to develop models (drawing from approaches used in community ecology and evolutionary theory) of early interactions between humans and yeasts and those situations in which yeasts might be expected to benefit more than humans and vise versa. These models could be fully quantitative or more conceptual (e.g., on the model of Madden et al), and would undoubtedly draw on insights from insect-yeast relationships where models tend to be better developed. Second, the student would use phylogenetic and phylogeographic approaches to consider how and when yeasts spread around the world, and the extent to which they spread with humans (based on existing samples, but potentially also new samples and hence field work). Third, the student would consider the scenarios in which humans and particular microbes relied upon in food fermentation (together as a kind of ”extended hologenome”) were more likely to succeed relative to humans not engaging in interactions with those same microbes.
During this project, the student has the potential to solve ancient mysteries while simultaneously learning to employ cutting edge approaches in, for example, phylogenomics/phylogenetics, microbial culturing, metagenomics, and biogeography.
Principal supervisor isRobert Dunn, Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics, firstname.lastname@example.org
Start: 1 March 2022
Duration: 3 years as a PhD student
Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:
- Carry through an independent research project under supervision
- Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
- Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research team
- Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
- Teach and disseminate your knowledge through public engagement events
- Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project
Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project. This can include experience in microbiology, ecology, or evolution. Please note that your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (two years).
Other important criteria are:
- The grade point average achieved
- Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
- Previous publications
- Relevant work experience
- Other professional activities
- Evidence of finishing projects.
- Language skills
Place of employment
The place of employment is at the Center for Evolutionary Hologenomics in the Globe Institute, part of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment.
Terms of employment
The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.
It is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.
The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree.
Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary starts at approximately 27,800 DKK/Roughly 3,700 EUR (October 2021 level) plus pension.
For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.
General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website: https://healthsciences.ku.dk/phd/guidelines/
Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format:
1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
3. Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other 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. As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: https://ufm.dk/en/education/recognition-and-transparency/find-assessments/assessment-database. Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science
4. Publication list (if possible)