Copenhagen University

Copenhagen University

Ph.D. scholarship in Biofilm-Bacteriophage Dynamics



Department of Biology, Section of Microbiology Faculty of Science University of Copenhagen

This PhD scholarship is associated with the project “ How multispecies biofilms cope with phage infections – COPE” founded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation . The overall aim of the project is to uncover fundamental principles of bacteria-bacteriophage (phage) interactions in complex multispecies biofilm settings. A collection of bacteria and associated phages will be studied at high resolution by specific fluorescent labelling, advanced microscopy, cell sorting and genome sequencing. Specifically, effects of the biofilm matrix, spatial organization, and presence of other species on phage susceptibility of biofilm bacteria will be identified. Also, long-term evolutionary responses to phage and/or antibiotic exposure will be evaluated using experimental evolution and genome mutation mapping.

The main tasks of this PhD project are 1) to establish a multispecies biofilm and analyze if non-susceptible species protect sensitive ones from phage infection, and how this relates to species diversity, spatial organization ect., and 2) genetically modify the model strains for application in in vitro models and microscopy analysis. Engineered strains will then be introduced to experimental designs in various in vitro model systems followed by structural and functional characterization of the community, specifically focusing on phage tolerance.

The position is for 3 years, and the project will be carried out at Section of Microbiology, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen where you will engage in teamwork within the group and with national and international collaborators.

The position is to be filled by 1 January 2024 or as soon as possible hereafter.

The principal supervisor is Professor Mette Burmølle, PhD, Section of Microbiology, Department of Biology.

The PhD programme

A three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master's degree.

To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master's degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. Microbiology, Biology, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Molecular Biology or similar. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.


We are looking for a highly motivated and ambitious researcher with strong experience in biofilm microbiology and bacterial interactions. Applicants should have the following qualifications:

  • M.Sc. in Microbiology, Biology, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Molecular Biology or equivalent
  • Hands on and documented experience with genetic engineering of bacteria and fluorescence-based reporter systems.

  • Hands on and documented experience with cultivation and analysis of bacteria and bacteriophages

  • Hands on and documented experience with use of in vitro biofilm models

  • Hands on and documented experience with confocal microscopy and image analysis of bacterial communities
  • Fluency in English
  • Main tasks of the appointed applicant

  • Establishment of a multispecies biofilm model for studies of bacteria- phage interactions
  • Genetic engineering of bacterial model strains
  • Visual analysis of spatial community structure using confocal microscopy
  • Structural and functional characterization of the biofilms using e.g. stains binding specific matrix components, biomass and viability assays etc.
  • Terms of employment Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

    Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

    Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

    Responsibilities and tasks in the PhD programme

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision

  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE

  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project
  • If you consider applying from abroad, you may find useful information on how it is to work in Denmark and at UCPH in this links: https://, https: // www. and https: // www.

    General information about PhD programmes at SCIENCE is available at https: // www.

    Application and Assessment Procedure

    Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

    Please include :

  • Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  • Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  • Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  • Publication list (if possible)
  • Reference letters (if available)
  • Contact and inquiries

    Professor Mette Burmølle, PhD: [email protected]

    The deadline for the application is 30 September 2023, 23:59 GMT +2

    We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

    The further process After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

    The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at https: //

    Questions For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

    General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School's website: https: // www.

    The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position

    Job details


    Ph.D. scholarship in Biofilm-Bacteriophage Dynamics


    Copenhagen University




    September 14, 2023

    Application deadline

    September 30, 2023

    Job type




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