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PhD Position in a DFF Research Leader Project on Environmental Toxicology

We invite enthusiastic applicants for a full PhD scholarship in Environmental Toxicology. The three-year scholarship is funded by a Sapere Aude Research Leader programme, a prestigious national programme by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF) to support the most talented younger researchers in Denmark to establish high international-level research groups. The project will be carried out at the Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark (SDU). The starting date of the PhD position is 1 August 2021. Application deadline: 15 May 2021.

Project background
The emission and accumulation of micro- and nanoplastics in the environment are invisible but inevitable, however, we don’t know their actual impacts on wildlife and the environment, particularly nanoplastics. The primary goal of this project is to understand the intricate details of the cellular uptake mechanisms, developmental effects, and toxicity mechanisms of nanoplastics in organisms of different vertebrate classes under environmentally realistic conditions. This project on Revealing “hidden” plastics using Trinal Oviparous Omics Model (TriOOL) builds on strong interdisciplinary technologies and international expertise to explore frontiers of nanoplastic pollution issues, by integrating comparative model embryos, cutting-edge bioimaging, omics, and hazard modelLing. The project will provide unprecedented insights into understanding the potential hazards posed by nanoplastics and corresponding mechanisms and launch a new chapter in the toxicological assessment of nanopollutant mixtures.

The project is led by Sapere Aude Research Leader Dr Elvis Genbo Xu (Assistant Professor). The successful applicant will be co-supervised by Associate Professor Henrik Holbech. The project team includes top-level collaborators Professor Gray Hardiman (UK), Professor Knut Erik Tollefsen (Norway), and Associate Professor Jonathan Brewer (Denmark), as well as a world-class international advisory board: Professor Richard Thompson (UK), Professor Martin Grosell (USA), Professor Daniel Schlenk (USA), Professor Daoji Li (China), and Professor Xiangrong Xu (China).

We are looking for an enthusiastic, ambitious, and independent candidate with an MSc degree in environmental sciences, biology, or related fields. The candidate should have laboratory and/or field experience in environmental toxicology. Experience with animal embryonic models, RNA sequencing and transcriptome analyses, or micro(nano)plastic is preferable. Proficiency in spoken and written English is mandatory.

The PhD scholar will be appointed to the Department of Biology, at SDU with the main supervisor Henrik Holbech and co-supervisor Elvis Genbo Xu ( 

SDU and the Ecotoxicology group
University of Southern Denmark (SDU) was founded in 1966 as a top research and educational institution in Denmark, with strong contacts with international industries and the scientific community. It is both the third-largest and the third-oldest Danish university. Several international reports testify that SDU conducts world-class research and rank it as one of the Top 50 young universities in the world. As a fast-growing young university, SDU now has five faculties and over 30,000 students, more than 15% of whom come from abroad. More than 1,200 researchers are divided into five faculties, 32 departments, and 11 research centres. The research team of the Sapere Aude project will be well embedded in SDU’s Ecotoxicology group at the Department of Biology, located in Odense campus. The PhD scholar will have strong support from the Ecotoxicology group that is well acknowledged for 20 years research of excellence on toxicology approach development and risk assessment of environmental contaminants, covering heavy metals, endocrine disrupting chemicals, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals.

For further information please contact Elvis Genbo Xu, e-mail:

Application, salary etc.
Appointment as a PhD Research Fellow is for three years. Employment stops automatically at the end of the period. The holder of the scholarship is not allowed to have other paid employment during the three-year period.

The successful applicant will be employed in accordance with the agreement on salaried PhD scholars between the Ministry of Finance and AC (the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations). Please check links for more information on salary and taxation.

The successful candidate will be enrolled at this university in accordance with faculty regulations and the Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities (PhD order).

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

Application must be made in the form of a Declaration of Interest including the following:
• A research proposal/description of your approach to the above project (max one page excluding references)
• A letter stating your specific interest, motivation and qualifications for the project in question (max. two pages) (please attach this under box "Application form")
• Detailed CV, including personal contact information
• Copies of diplomas, Bachelor as well as Master’s degree, including transcript of notes/grades
• At least two signed reference letters. Should your referees wish to send their letters directly to us, please have them use e-mail: mentioning your name and the title of the position in the subject line. And please note that these also need to reach us before deadline.

Shortlisting may be used in the assessment process.

Further information about the PhD-study can be found at the homepage of the University.

Applications must be submitted electronically using the link "Apply online". Attached files must be in Adobe PDF or Word format. Each box can only contain a single file of max. 10 Mb. We strongly recommend that you read How to apply before you apply.

Incomplete applications and applications received after the deadline will neither be considered nor evaluated. This also applies to reference letters.

Further information for international applicants about entering and working in Denmark.

Send application
Deadline 2021-May-15

You can apply for the job at Faculty of Science by completing the application form