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PhD position, Wildlife Ecotoxicology - 2019BAPFWETEF184

The Systemic Physiological and Ecotoxicological Research group (Sphere) of the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science offers a vacancy for a full-time Ph.D. scholarship.

Ph.D. scholarship (100%) in the field of Wildlife Ecotoxicology

Description of the position: A position is vacant for a researcher (Ph.D.-scholarship) to investigate the relationship between internal concentrations of micro pollutants in aquatic organisms and the ecological quality of water courses.

For the monitoring of pollutants in the aquatic environment and the prediction of their ecological effects on aquatic organisms, most of the time only water, sediment or suspended matter is ,measured. However, with this approach the results only reflect the situation at the moment of sampling while concentrations might fluctuate with time. Moreover, this approach does not take into account the bio-availability, which is influenced by factors such as acidity, water hardness and temperature and that may differ substantially among sites. Therefore it makes more sense to measure toxic compounds in organisms that are resistant to pollution and that easily accumulate them. In this way fluctuations in time and differences in accumulation are integrated in the measurement.
The aim of this study is to look for species (invertebrates and fish) that can be collected from natural waters (rivers, lakes, canals) or introduced in cages and in which accumulation of micro pollutants is assessed. The accumulated levels of pollutants (metals and perfluorinated pollutants) and internal distribution will be related to the invertebrate and fish community structure. In order to confirm field results, also laboratory and mesocosm (artificial ponds) experiments will be performed in which invertebrates are exposed to the pollutants and effects on physiology, reproduction and behavior will be assessed. In this way it will be investigate if this approach is suitable to derive biota quality standards that are protective of ecological damage.

As a result, the successful candidate will have to combine field work (observations and experiments) with laboratory work and analytical measurements.

Profile and requirements

  • You have a Master degree in Biology or an equivalent degree in Life Sciences (i.e. Biomedical Sciences or Bio-engineering Sciences).
  • You are an enthusiastic and motivated student with a strong interest in Ecotoxicology and Ecology, who likes working both in the field and in the lab.
  • You have good organizational, writing and presentation skills and should be able to work well both independently and in a team environment.
  • You have a driver license (B).
  • The candidate is expected to prepare a Ph.D. and to participate in the organisation of practical courses and seminars. Your research and teaching capabilities are in line with the management goals of the university.

We offer: A Ph.D. scholarship for one year, and extension for another three years after positive evaluation. The research will be carried out in a dynamic and stimulating scientific environment.

Interested ?

Please send all application material including 1) your curriculum vitae 2) a brief (250 words) summary of your reasons for applying and 3) contact information of max. 2 referees) as single PDF-file to:

Candidates can apply until September 15th, 2019. Student graduating in September can also apply.

For more information, contact Prof. Lieven Bervoets (

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