Doctoral Student in Physical Geography & Ecosystem Science

Lund University

Lund, , SE

Lund University, Department of Physical Geograhy and Ecosystem Science

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has 40 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

The Faculty of Science conducts research and education within Biology, Astronomy, Physics, Geosciences, Chemistry, Mathematics and Environmental Sciences. The Faculty is organized into nine departments, gathered in the northern campus area. The Faculty has approximately 1500 students, 330 PhD students and 700 employees.

Subject description

The recent (2018) drought reduced the Swedish cereal harvest, reduced available grazing resources and lowered the harvest of animal feed, crucial for maintaining national food production and to sustain animal stocks over the winter. The 2018 cereal harvest was the worst since the late 1950’s. Effects on forest and forestry are still partly unknown but reduced carbon uptake have been observed and drought induced bark beetle outbreaks in southern Sweden have been reported3. The rate of recovery and implications for forest production and economy remain to be analyzed. This project will further investigate the consequences of the drought on terrestrial vegetation and ecosystem services in Sweden.

Work duties

The PhD candidate will be a part of a research-project called “Drought impact on Swedish terrestrial ecosystems – detecting and mapping vegetation change” investigating effects of the 2018 drought in Sweden. The project aim to:

  • Develop and test change-detection methodologies for terrestrial vegetation based on time series information from new EO satellites at high spatial and temporal resolution.
  • Quantify and understand spatially explicit drought related changes in agricultural ecosystems. 

          a. Identify drivers and map areas with high risk of disturbances.

          b. Quantify effects on production and the carbon cycle.

  • Quantify and understand spatially explicit drought related changes in forest ecosystems.

          a. Identify drivers and map areas with high risk of disturbances (insects).

          b. Quantify effects on forest growth and the carbon cycle.

          c. Investigate lag effects on the following vegetation seasons.

  • Develop management recommendations to mitigate direct and adverse secondary effects (insect outbreaks) of drought on crucial Swedish ecosystem services within forestry and agriculture.

See full project plan at

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties can also include teaching and other departmental duties (no more than 20%).

Admission requirements

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:

  • has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
  • has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or
  • has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

Additional requirements

In priority order:

  • MSc in geoscience, physical geography, plant ecology or a similar topic.
  • Strong skills in remote sensing.
  • Skills in meteorology and climatology.
  • Skills in programming.
  • Skills in plant science
  • Fluently in English and basic skills in Swedish.
  • Knowledge of Swedish agriculture and forestry.
  • Good communication skills and ability to work independently and in a group.

Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following:

  • Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study.
  • An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, e.g. professional experience.

Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programme.

Terms of employment
Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies at LTH consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20% departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1993:100), chapter 5, 1-7 §§.

Instructions on how to apply

Applications shall be written in English and include a cover letter stating the reasons why you are interested in the position and in what way the research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, contact information for your references, letters of recommendation, etc.).


The employment of doctoral students is regulated in the Swedish Code of Statues 1998: 80. Only those who are or have been admitted to PhD-studies may be appointed to doctoral studentships. When an appointment to a doctoral studentship is made, the ability of the student to benefit from PhD-studies shall primarily be taken into account. In addition to devoting themselves to their studies, those appointed to doctoral studentships may be required to work with educational tasks, research and administration, in accordance with specific regulations in the ordinance.

Type of employment
Limit of tenure, four years according to HF 5 kap 7§.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset. We kindly decline all sales and marketing contacts.