The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 53 500 students and 6 500 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.

At the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (BioEnv) we have teaching and research activities that stretch from the alpine ecosystem, through forests, cultivated land and streams, all the way into the marine environment. In these environments we study different levels of biological organisation 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 three different localities: in Gothenburg Botanical garden, at Medicinarberget in Gothenburg, and at the marine research station-Kristineberg. The current position is placed in the Botanical garden building in Gothenburg.

Project description - PREDICT the effect of mixtures of chemicals on aquatic life

Anthropogenic activities cause a continuous discharge of complex chemical mixtures into aquatic environments, such as rivers, coastal areas, and lakes. These chemicals may threaten the ecological status of aquatic systems by impairing the structure and function of aquatic life with effects cascading from individual genes to whole ecosystems. This PhD project aims to develop and validate advanced cheminformatics and ecotoxicogenomic data assessment strategies for the environmental risk analysis of complex chemical mixtures in aquatic systems. The project will make use of high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry (HR-MS/MS) data to build pollution-fingerprints from targeted, suspected, and non-targeted chemical data to predict chemical-risks linking them to anthropogenic activities. These findings will be combined especially with molecular data on potential ecological impacts (e.g. environmental DNA surveys, metabarcoding data, and other omics datasets), in order to develop pipelines for an improved environmental mixture risk assessment which will be validated in selected case studies.

The PhD position will be placed in the interdisciplinary project MixTOX - “Mixture pollution in agricultural streams: linking the effect of chemicals to the genome of freshwater organisms using an ecotoxicogenomic approach”. MixTOX is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development and will directly contribute to the non-toxic environment strategy by developing new assessment tools and assessing the chemical status of aquatic ecosystems.

The project is implemented in close co-operation with research groups at the FRAM - Centre for Future Chemical Risk Analysis and Management at the University of Gothenburg.

Job assignments

The main task is to conduct the PhD thesis work under supervision, which includes development of the PhD student’s methodology experience, analytical skills, and theoretical depth and breadth. The PhD student shall, in close collaboration with supervisors and other project members, first develop the conceptual idea of the project into specific, testable hypotheses and objectives. The candidate will first identify and optimize the principal building blocks for the evaluation of exposure information and ecotoxicological data in the context of mixture risk assessment. The candidate will then develop computational solutions for an improved mixture assessment using especially high-resolution exposure data and ecologically relevant molecular data from metabarcoding and genomic / transcriptomic surveys.

The PhD thesis will rely heavily on in silico techniques (e.g. prediction modelling, large scale data retrieval and assessment, bioinformatics, cheminformatics, machine learning, etc). Nevertheless, the doctoral student might also be offered the opportunity to participate in shorter field surveys in Sweden, Germany, Chile or Kenya (after mutual agreement).

Third cycle education

Admission to third cycle education is aiming at a PhD in Natural Science, specializing in Environmental Sciences. The education runs for four years of fulltime studies, containing three years of thesis work and one year of academic education (i.e. course work and literature studies). A selection of courses at the Department/Faculty is available, but national/international courses can also be selected. Some teaching and/or course administration can be included which extends the contract to the same extent.


To be eligible for third-cycle studies, the applicant must meet both the general and specific entry requirements. A person meets the general entry requirements for third-cycle courses and study programs if he/she:
1. has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
2. has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second-cycle, or
3. has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

To meet the specific entry requirements for third-cycle studies, applicants must:
1. have a second-cycle (advanced-level) degree in a relevant* subject area in the natural sciences, or
2. have completed studies for at least 60 higher education credits at a second-cycle level in relevant subject areas in the natural sciences, or
3. have completed a corresponding programme of relevance to the planned third-cycle programme, in Sweden or in another country, or have equivalent qualifications.

*Relevant subject for the planned third-cycle education is ecotoxicology, applied data sciences, environmental sciences, environmental chemistry, and bioinformatics.


Rules regarding education and employment on a doctoral level are given in Högskoleförordningen (HF, SFS 1993:100). Only applicants who are admitted to the postgraduate level may be hired. Upon appointment the degree of ability to successfully complete the PhD program must firstly be evaluated.

We are looking for a self-motivated candidate and pro-active team player, with a strong interest in environmental data sciences across the board but especially in chemical risk assessment, cheminformatics, ecotoxicogenomics and molecular ecotoxicology for a PhD project in Environmental Sciences. Proven knowledge in at least one of those fields is a requirement. Proven knowledge in the R programming language is also a requirement.

Experience in applied data science (especially data mining, machine learning and the analysis of “big data”), biostatistics and additional programming languages (such as python) are advantageous.

Excellent communication skills in English (both orally and in written text) are essential, as we work in an international environment.

The application should be written in English and must include:

  • A short cover letter with the applicant’s justification, describing motivation and how the applicant meets the selection criteria (approximately 1 A4 page)
  • An attested list of qualifications (CV), including details on the level of proficiency in R
  • Examination certificates and a transcript of courses with grades
  • A PDF copy of the Master thesis (or equivalent)
  • Employment certificates and other documents deemed important by the applicant
  • Three former supervisors, teachers or managers, as references, with contact details.

The top ranked candidates will be selected for an interview, which will be held in English and might be performed by zoom/skype.


After admission to third-cycle studies you will be appointed to doctoral studentship. Regulations for employment of doctoral students are given in SFS 1993:100. The initial appointment may apply for no longer than one year. An appointment may be renewed for no more than two years at a time. A person may be appointed to a doctoral studentship for a total of eight years. The total employment period may, however, not exceed the time corresponding to full-time third-cycle study for four years.

Location: Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Extent: 100%. First day of employment: September or upon agreement

Salaries for doctoral students are regulated in a local agreement at the University.

For further information regarding the position

Dr. Pedro Inostroza
Phone: +46 (31) 766-18 48 07

Prof. Thomas Backhaus
Phone: +46 (31) 786 27 34

Henrik Aronsson, Professor and Head of Department
Phone: +46 31 786 48 02


Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg:

Information for International Applicants

Choosing a career in a foreign country is a big step. Thus, to give you a general idea of what we and Gothenburg have to offer in terms of benefits and life in general for you and your family/spouse/partner please visit:

How to apply

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. The selection of candidates is made on the basis of the qualifications registered in the application.

Closing date: August 31, 2021 

The University of Gothenburg promotes equal opportunities, equality and diversity.

Applications will be destroyed or returned (upon request) two years after the decision of employment has become final. Applications from the employed and from those who appeal the decision will not be returned.

In connection to this recruitment, we have already decided which recruitment channels we should use. We therefore decline further contact with vendors, recruitment and staffing companies.