Postdoctoral position in Biotechnology / Bioengineering (aquaponics / recirculating aquaculture)

Ref PAR 2022/1120

The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 56 000 students and 6 600 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.

 

Subject area

Bioengineering / Analytical Chemistry / Microbiology / Molecular Biology / Metagenomics

 

Keywords: recirculating aquaculture systems, hydroponics, aquaponics, digesters, wastewater nutrient recovery, microbiome, rhizosphere, probiotics

 

Description

 

Industrial aquaponics is an 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 strategy is the use of sludge digesters to more efficiently remineralise solid wastes. Although many of the largest aquaponics facilities worldwide are in arid regions where water reuse is important, this technology is also becoming more popular in Europe as design advances have increasingly made aquaponics not just a water-saving enterprise, but also a circular energy and waste reuse system. Although some aquaponics systems are focused on volume-production that can capitalise on economies of scale, other operations have educational or social enterprise mandates, particularly those in urban environments where micro and vertical farming have become popular. 

 

As growth parameters differ between fish and plants, the microbiome plays a significant role in remineralisation and bioavailability of nutrients in aquaponic systems. Although technical specifications for pH, microbial remineralisation 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 in a closed system.

 

Beneficial microbes are important at all stages of production and can be enhanced by the addition of probiotics or beneficial bacterial communities to improve the functioning of biofilters and sludge digesters. These bacterial additions can serve important functions by improving fish gut health and reducing the spread of pathogens in the aquaculture component while promoting plant growth and rooting. To date, there is considerable discipline-specific literature in aquaculture, hydroponics and bioengineering. However, aquaponics integrates knowledge from each of those disciplines, and research is essential in order to understand and enhance microbial performance in various components of aquaponics systems (fish and plants, but also biofilters, digesters and bioreactors). Accordingly, there are many potential approaches for research designs: using next-generation sequencing; mapping microbial communities; identifying and characterizing microbes that enhance nutrient bioavailability; improving engineering designs of digesters and bioreactors. Hence a candidate’s specific scientific background may be less important than their research interests and demonstrated qualifications in their respective field.

                                                             

Key qualifications

 

We are seeking a candidate who is independent and self-motivated, given that details of the project can be adjusted based on the breadth of a candidate’s analytical skills and interests.

 

The position is based at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, but involves frequent international travel as this is part of an EU funded project where collaborative work is being conducted with several international laboratories and industry partners. The candidate will be responsible for running applied experiments in conjunction with several research labs in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific (Australia and South Korea primarily), thus requiring considerable flexibility for extended stays (2-6 months) in various locations as well as frequent travel to participate in meetings, working groups, conferences and visits with industry partners. The candidate will be working in a multidisciplinary team of bioengineers, animal/plant scientists, industrial technologists, food safety experts in different research groups: as such, exemplary teamwork and communication skills as well as the ability to travel and work across timezones are essential. There must be a willingness and ability to work independently in different locations and laboratories, with remote support from Gothenburg team members. The candidate will also help host visiting researchers from these foreign labs in Sweden. As such, it is essential to demonstrate prior international work/study experience in order to qualify for the position.

 

Qualifications

 

The candidate must possess a PhD in a relevant engineering field, or in a relevant area of biological science (molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry or related disciplines). It is not a requirement to have prior experience with aquaponics or prior experience in hydroponic crop production/commercial greenhouse facilities and/or the operation of recirculating aquaculture systems or bioreactors, but such experience would be useful. 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 and other waste treatment systems.

 

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 (please also highlight any technical reports written). Articles must be provided with the application.
  • Ability to travel internationally for longer research periods to work 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

 

Due to the need for international travel, a valid driver’s license is recommended. Good communication skills in English (written and spoken) are also necessary, but the candidate does not need Swedish or EU citizenship, as residence permits can be arranged. Since the position involves work in international laboratories where longer periods of time will be spent away from one’s home country, candidates without any prior international work/study experience will not be considered.

 

Employment terms


The exact start date for this position is negotiable depending on the availability of a suitable candidate. The post-doctoral fellow will be hired for a two-year period to lead a research project that s/he designs. The successful candidate will have a full spectrum of vacation and leave benefits, as well as coverage from national health and business travel insurance.

 

Application procedure

 

To apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you need 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 application must include:

 

  • A CV and short cover letter that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
  • Full text of at least three accepted or published peer-reviewed manuscripts
  • Name and contact details of three referees on your CV or in a file entitled References (your name).pdf

 

Regulations for the evaluation of qualifications for academic positions are given in Chapter 4, Section 3 - 4 of the Higher Education Ordinance.

 

Overview

 

The University of Gothenburg has 38 000 students and 6 000 employees and is one of the largest Universities in the Nordic countries. Strong research and study programs attract scientists and students from around the world. The advertised position is within the Department of Marine Sciences, located at the main campus in Gothenburg and at its two marine research laboratories at Tjärnö and Kristineberg (www.marine.gu.se).

 

Contact information

 

For further information about the position, please contact Dr. Alyssa Joyce: alyssa.joyce@gu.se

 

 

Unions 

Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg can be found here: https://www.gu.se/om-universitetet/jobba-hos-oss/hjalp-for-sokande 

 

Application 

To apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to create an account in our recruitment system. Submit your application via the University of Gothenburg’s recruitment portal by clicking the “Apply” button. It is your responsibility to ensure that the application is complete as per the vacancy notice, and that the University receives it by the final application deadline. 

Applications must be received by: 2023-01-01 

The University works actively to achieve a working environment with equal conditions, and values the qualities that diversity brings to its operations.

Salaries are set individually at the University.

In accordance with the National Archives of Sweden’s regulations, the University must archive application documents for two years after the appointment is filled. If you request that your documents are returned, they will be returned to you once the two years have passed. Otherwise, they will be destroyed.

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.