Department of Forest Ecology and Management

The department includes about 115 people of which 9 are professors. Our mission is to advance the understanding of forest ecosystems and how these should be managed today and in the future. For more information:

Read more about our benefits and what it is like to work at SLU at

Name of research project/thesis:

Plant nitrogen acquisition and responses to organic and mineral nitrogen

Thesis subject:



Boreal forest soils contain large quantities of nitrogen, but mainly organic forms. Plant nutritional physiology traditionally has a strong focus on inorganic nitrogen, and in growth experiments with nitrogen additions, nitrogen is often assumed to be synonymous with ammonium and nitrate.  It is therefore an overlooked fact that such tests of ecosystem nitrogen limitation do not only add to a quantity of nitrogen in the soil, but also shift the chemical composition of that N away from organic forms and toward the mineral forms of nitrogen. In other words, N addition experiments in forest ecosystems are manipulating two factors (quantity and quality of soil N), and can therefore not separate their relative importance for the observed outcome. This is the challenge for the announced PhD project. The PhD student will study plant responses to organic and inorganic nitrogen forms, measuring biomass allocation, root anatomy and mycorrhizal interactions.

The announced PhD position is fully funded for four years, with the expectation that the student will defend their doctoral thesis at the end of this time period. The successful applicant will work under the supervision of Professor Torgny Näsholm. The PhD student will belong to a research group with broad expertise ranging from plant molecular biology, physiology and nutrition to forest ecophysiology, which will provide both support and opportunities for scientific discussion and exchange.



Basic requirements

  • MSc degree in a relevant subject area (biology, ecology, forest science, ecophysiology etc.)
  • Good English communication skills (written and spoken)
  • Strong work ethic


  • Experience with scientific field and lab studies, especially with forest ecosystems
  • Basic knowledge of statistical software (such as R or JMP)

Place of work:      

Umeå, Sweden

Forms for funding or employment:

Employment as PhD student, full time for 4 years

Starting date:

Autumn 2024


Click the “Apply” button to submit your application. The deadline is May 13 2024.

Applications should be written in English, and include the following:

  • CV
  • A cover letter, introducing yourself and your reason for applying for the position
  • Short (max 1 page) description of your scientific background, research interests, and how you fulfill the qualifications listed above.
  • Copies of degree certificates (or corresponding documents), and other relevant documents and certificates (such as English scores, for instance)
  • Names and contact info for two professional references.

To qualify for third-cycle (Doctoral) courses and study programmes, you must have a second-cycle (Master’s) qualification. Alternatively, you must have conducted a minimum of four years of full-time study, of which a minimum of one year at second-cycle level.

Applicants will be selected based on their written application and CV, degree project, copies of their degree certificate and transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution, two personal references, and knowledge of English. More information about the English language requirements can be found here:

Please note that applicants invited to interview must submit attested copies of their degree certificate, or equivalent, a transcript of records from previous first and second-cycle studies at a university or higher education institution. Applicants who are not Swedish citizens need to submit an attested copy of their passport’s information page containing their photograph and personal details.

Read about the PhD education at SLU at

Academic union representatives:

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) has a key role in the development for sustainable life, based on science and education. Through our focus on the interaction between humans, animals and ecosystems and the responsible use of natural resources, we contribute to sustainable societal development and good living conditions on our planet. Our main campuses are located in Alnarp, Umeå and Uppsala, however, the university also operates at research stations, experimental forests and teaching sites throughout Sweden.

SLU has around 3,000 employees, 5,000 students and doctoral students and a turnover of over SEK 3 billion. We are investing in attractive environments on all of our campuses. We strive to provide a work environment characterised by inclusivity and gender equality, where different experiences generate conversations between people and pave the way for science, creativity and development. Therefore, we welcome applications from people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Contact person

Nils Henriksson