The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 38 000 students and 6 000 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract scientists and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.
The new Department of Marine Sciences (Marine) is a multi-disciplinary academic environment including biology, chemistry, oceanography and geology.
Our teaching and research activities stretch from circulation under the polar ice to biogeochemical fluxes in the deep sea, and from shallow seagrass beds to cold-water coral reefs. In these environments, we study different levels of biological organization from genes, individuals and populations, to communities and ecosystems. We work within ecology, evolution, physiology, systematics and combinations of these fields in order to understand the impact of natural and anthropogenic changes of the environment. The department is placed at the main campus in Gothenburg and at the two marine research laboratories at Tjärnö and Kristineberg (www.marine.gu.se).
Industrial aquaponics is a high-density agricultural technique that combines elements of both aquaculture and hydroponics in a synergistic production technology that utilizes fish wastes as plant fertilizer, thus reducing input and waste disposal requirements of both systems.
Technological advances are increasingly moving aquaponics away from small-scale production into industrial environments by focusing on improved macro- and micronutrient recovery. Improvements in engineering design have been able to significantly increase output capacities and have now made industrial aquaponics applications a commercial reality. One method for instance, is the use of decoupled aquaponics systems in which sludge digesters utilize microbial communities to efficiently reuse solid wastes. Although many of the largest facilities worldwide are still in arid regions, this technology is also becoming more popular in Europe as design advances have increasingly made aquaponics not just a water-saving enterprise, but also an energy and nutrient recycling system. Although some systems are focused primarily on production, others also include an educational mandate, particularly those in urban environments where micro-farming and vertical-growth greenhouses have become popular.
As growth parameters differ between fish and plants, the microbiome plays a significant role in remineralization and bioavailability of nutrients in aquaponic systems. Although technical specifications for pH, microbial remineralization and nitrification processes have received much research attention, relatively few studies have characterized other types of bacterial assemblages that either inhibit or stimulate fish and plant growth. For instance, biocontrol of microbes is an important consideration for both producers and consumers, given that the use of disinfection chemicals or antibiotics to control pathogens, or probiotics and phytogenics to stimulate growth, can have profound effects on microbial populations and hence plant and animal health throughout a closed system.
Beneficial microbes are important at all stages of production and can be enhanced by the addition of probiotics as they are crucial to the functioning of biofilters and sludge digesters. They serve important functions in improve fish gut health and to reduce the spread of pathogens in the aquaculture component, as well as in promoting plant growth and rooting. To-date, there is considerable discipline-specific literature in aquaculture, hydroponics and bioengineering that can help inform and enhance microbial performance in aquaponics. However, there is limited understanding of linkages in the microbiome among compartments of aquaponics systems.
This position will therefore examine the role of microbial populations in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), in fish sludge digesters, and in hydroponics (HYP) units with the goal of better understanding conditions that maximize beneficial transfers of microbes and their products among components of decoupled aquaponics systems. There are many different approaches to examining these aspects of production, including the use of next-generation sequencing to map microbial communities and biochemical analyses to characterize how microbes might contribute phytogenics to RAS and enhance fish growth and well-being.
The candidate will be responsible for
i) running applied experiments in several different European aquaponics labs, thus requiring flexibility for extended stays in various locations. International travel to participate in meetings, working groups, conferences and visits with industry partners will also be necessary;
ii) advising students in their scientific research, including research design and statistical analyses;
iii) leading occasional outreach activities (e.g. training courses, field days, workshops events) and working with a wide range of personnel to accomplish research tasks (e.g. students, academic and extension personnel within the consortium, technicians, investors and aquaponics business owners).
We are seeking a candidate who is independent and self-motivated given that details of the project can be adjusted based on the candidate’s skills and interests. The candidate will be working in a multidisciplinary team of engineers, pathologists, food scientists, modellers and policy-makers involving several international research groups, thus exemplary teamwork and communication skills as well as the ability to travel are essential. The candidate will be expected to lead their project but i) develop and discuss their ideas with team members and the PI; ii) to initiate and carry out their work without close supervision but within a collaborative environment; ii) write well-formulated reports and academic articles.
At a minimum, the candidate must possess a PhD in molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, veterinary medicine, bioengineering, biotechnology, cell biology or related disciplines. It is not a requirement that the candidate has experience with aquaponics or prior experience in hydroponic crop production (commercial greenhouse facilities) and/or the operation of recirculating aquaculture systems, but such experience would be useful as the position works closely with industry partners. Please note clearly on your application if you have any relevant skills such as technical operation of aquarium/ aquaculture tanks, hydroponics or irrigation systems, or prior work in the operation of multiphase bioreactors.
Please also indicate on your application if you have relevant experience including prior coursework or relevant industry internships/collaborations in at least two of the following areas: bioprocess engineering, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, bioinformatics, analytical chemistry, or microbial genomics. Experience in several of the following methodologies will also be advantageous: microscopy techniques with confocal, epifluorescence, digital holographic or multi-photon, super-resolution (STED, dSTORM, etc) and/or electron microscopy, techniques for culturing cells and microbes, identifying cell signalling molecules, chromatography (HPLC / GC), fluorescent tags/probes, UV spectroscopy).
A start date is required prior to April 31, 2018, but the exact start date for this position is negotiable depending on the availability of a suitable candidate. The post-doctoral fellow (PDF) will be hired for a two-year period to lead this project, with the possibility for contract renewal based on performance.
If the following items are not evident on the CV, please state clearly in the cover letter how you meet the following requirements:
Proof of research and scientific writing skills with at least 3 published peer-reviewed articles as first author in peer-reviewed journals (please also highlight any technical reports written). Full-text of articles must be provided with the application.
Relevant experience as specified above with microbiology and/or analytical chemistry
Willingness to travel internationally for longer research periods in partner laboratories as well as frequent travel for participation in working groups, conferences, and visits with industry partners
Demonstrated statistical skills, including software such as R
Any experience in development of cloud resources (websites, online user groups, surveys)
Proof of leadership skills and interdisciplinary collaboration, including any prior involvement in outreach activities
The position is based at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Good communication skills in English (written and spoken) are necessary. A valid driver’s license is required. The position also involves frequent international travel as the work is being conducted with partners in four different laboratories. Candidates without any prior international work/study experience will not be considered.
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