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The REGIME SHIFT project: a multi-scale analysis of ecosystem response to shifting rainfall regimes (4 doctoral scholarships in the areas of ecology of plants and micro-organisms, genomics, metabolomics and bio-informatics)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The Departments of Biology and Mathematics of the Faculty of Sciences are seeking to fill 4 full-time (100%) vacancies for doctoral scholarships in the areas of ecology of plants and micro-organisms, genomics, metabolomics and bio-informatics.

The REGIME SHIFT project

Climate change is making weather patterns in mid-latitude regions, such as Western Europe, more persistent. This leads to longer droughts, but also prolonged periods with excessive rain. No comprehensive study has hitherto investigated the ecological consequences of such changes in the precipitation regime. REGIME SHIFT explores these potential impacts of shifts in the frequency of dry/wet cycles at multiple, connected levels of biological organization. It does so in a new, large-scale platform at UAntwerp in which changes in precipitation and associated temperature changes can be experimentally induced in species-rich grassland ecosystems. The project includes a wide array of research domains, from plants to soil organisms such as bacteria and fungi, and from cellular metabolism and genetic regulation, studied by Next Generation Sequencing and bio-informatics to the study of ecosystem processes. In this interdisciplinary framework, we are looking for four PhD students.

Candidates are interested in one or more of the following research domains:
• Plant communities and ecosystem processes (***applications for this domain have been closed as of Jan. 25***)
• Plant-soil interactions and the role of micro-organisms
• Plant growth and metabolism
• Bio-informatics plant & soil

In the project, the focus is on the following themes and techniques:
• transcriptomics, stress physiology and biochemistry of plants
• growth and productivity, competition and plant diversity
• ecosystem cycles and fluxes of nutrients, water and carbon
• microbial diversity and function in soil and roots (DNA metabarcoding)
• bio-informatics

The complementary expertise brought together here should yield both significantly increased understanding of key processes as well as new avenues to climate change impact mitigation. During the selection process, the needs of the project will be matched with the profiles and interests of suitable candidates.

The project is led by five P.I.’s:
Prof. Ivan Nijs (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/ivan-nijs)
Prof. Erik Verbruggen (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/erik-verbruggen)
Prof. Han Asard (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/han-asard)
Prof. Gerrit Beemster (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/gerrit-beemster)
Prof. Kris Laukens (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/kris-laukens)


Job description
• You prepare a doctoral thesis and collaborate closely with other researchers in the REGIME SHIFT project.
• You publish scientific articles related to the research project of the assignment.
• You take up limited teaching and research support duties in the Faculty of Sciences.



Profile and requirements
• You hold a master degree in Biology, Bio-engineer, Biochemistry or Bio-informatics, in line with the position to which you apply.
• You can submit outstanding academic results.
• You have excellent passive and active English language skills.
• Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy.
• You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative.

We offer
• a doctoral scholarship for a period of four years.
• a start date that is to be negotiated with the promotor, from March 1 onwards.
• a gross monthly grant ranging from € 2.189,88 - € 2.513,13 (c. € 1900 – 2100 net).
• reimbursement of public transport or a bicycle allowance.
• a dynamic and stimulating work environment.

How to apply?
• Applications, including CV and motivation, should be submitted to Laura Broeckx (), with “Regime Shift project” in subject line and attached documents in pdf.
• The positions stay open until filled.
• A pre-selection will be made from amongst the submitted applications.
• The remainder of the selection procedure is specific to the position and will be determined by the selection panel.
• The interviews of the candidates, preselected by a selection panel, will take place on a date that is to be decided
• For additional information, contact Hans De Boeck ()


The University of Antwerp is a family-friendly organization, with a focus on equal opportunities and diversity. Our HR-policy for researchers was awarded by the European Commission with the quality label ’HR Excellence in research’.

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