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Postdoc (m/f/d) "Disentangling the impact of temperature and light exposure in planktonic microbi...

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Closing date
16 Jun 2023

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Earth Science
Job Type
Employment - Hours
Full time
Fixed term

Job Details

Area of research:

Scientific / postdoctoral posts

Job description:Postdoc (m/f/d) "Disentangling the impact of temperature and light exposure in planktonic microbial resilience in the Arctic" (HIPP Pos #4)

In order to address questions of global importance related to functional marine biodiversity and marine conservation and to stimulate an integrative and innovative research environment, HIFMB has created an independent postdoc pool, HIPP, that offers postdoctoral scientists the opportunity to develop their own research ideas and to actively shape their scientific careers. For each call, we set a topical context in order to foster collaborations between postdocs. For this call, we seek to hire a strong team of researchers, open and enthusiastic to interdisciplinary working, who will address the overarching question of ‘Ecosystem re-assembly under climate change’ in collaboration with the HIFMB community. Ecosystems are re-assembling under climate change. Key species are lost from local areas and new species are taking their place. This process happens across scales, from the re-assembly of animal’s gut microbiomes stressed by changing environments to the loss of foundation species in coastal ecosystems such as corals, kelp and seagrasses. New tools, big data and as well as qualitative approaches mean that we can reassess classical questions of ecosystem assembly with the goal of developing a theoretical framework that can yield, perhaps, predictions about the reassembly process, and insights as to what it means for governance where movement may render existing spatial measures as obsolete (Maxwell et al. 2015).
We need to understand how ecosystems are reassembled to make decisions about where, when and what will be conserved and how we can engage “new ecosystems” in relation to human life.

Rising water temperatures in the Arctic regions has an enormous impact on the resident microbial communities that evolved under rather constant environmental conditions and adapted to maintain a clear rhythm in their growth phases and reproduction cycles to respond to the long and dark winter phases. Arctic habitats are increasingly more accessible to organisms that are adapted to temperate oceans due to the climate change, and their shifting biogeography predicts a major impact on the native communities and ecosystems in polar regions. Although, while organisms evolved in temperate conditions might better cope with Arctic environments due to the emerging temperature regimes, the dark winter phase with limited light will likely constrain their success. This could be compensated by adaptive changes along a potential trade-off in the resilience to temperature changes and the ability to grow in low light. While there are numerous studies investigating the impact of changing temperatures on the functioning of increasingly rich communities, mechanistic insights into genetic traits that are critical for a sustainable impact of the new residents of the Arctic on ecosystem functions and services are lacking.

The aim of this project is to investigate the influence of light spectral and intensity and duration combined with different temperature regimes on selected single algae (diatoms, haptophytes and Micromonas spp.), as well as complex communities. Under variable conditions we well measure physiological processes, such as growth rates, temperature response curves, photosynthetic performance (half saturation rates for light), and possible trade-offs thereof. Using functional genomics and metatranscriptomics, we will measure cellular and metabolic processes and adaptations that might constrain light or temperature stress, and we will benchmark these data with existing field metatranscriptomes (> 530) collected from different Arctic regions throughout the yearly cycles. We will use the generated data to feed mathematical models that simulate growth rates averaged over the varying light and temperature regimes in the course of the year, allowing us to project invasion ability and changing coexistence regimes ongoing with altered environmental conditions. The post-doc will also have the chance to conduct further experiments and collect additional field data on various field and ship expeditions that will run between 2024-2028.

  • PhD in Ecology, Evolution, Microbiology, or a relevant discipline
  • Skills in Ecophysiology, Biochemistry, and/or Bioinformatics. Interest in modelling or willingness to work with modellers is a plus.
  • Experience working in multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Excellent English written and oral communication skills.
  • Record of peer-reveiwed scientific publications in international journals.

The HIPP is explicitly meant to foster networking between marine institutions. We therefore offer the possibility for candidates bring in additional advisors from institutions outside of HIFMB. HIFMB further strives for transformation and bridging the science-policy interface. Therefore, experience or interest in transfer activities is a plus.

Further Information
We offer

We offer
  • An interdisciplinary research environment with expertise in experimental and field oriented marine ecology, data science, modelling, marine governance and political ecology.
  • Career development support through transdisciplinary workshops, seminars and mentoring at the Graduate Academy of Oldenburg University and AWI’s postdoc office PROCEED.
  • A lively international atmosphere and family-friendly environment.

Equal opportunities are an integral part of our personnel policy. The AWI aims to increase the number of employees who are women, and therefore strongly encourages qualified women to apply.

Applicants with disabilities will be given preference when equal qualifications are present.

The AWI fosters the compatibility of work and family in various ways and has received a number of awards as a result of this engagement.

This research center is part of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. With more than 42,000 employees and an annual budget of over € 5 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation.


The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges to assure the future of our society. With more than 39,000 people on staff in 18 national research centres, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. The name Helmholtz stands for concerted research in which networks form the key principle behind inquiring thought and action. Concerted research is efficient and flexible.

The profile of the Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Association performs cutting-edge research which contributes substantially to solving the grand challenges of science, society and industry. To succeed in meeting these responsibilities, Helmholtz concentrates its work in six research fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, as well as Aeronautics, Space and Transport. Within each of these fields, research programs are developed by our scientists and regularly evaluated by renowned international experts. Their evaluation forms the basis for the programme-oriented funding that is allocated to Helmholtz research. Within the six research fields, Helmholtz scientists cooperate with each other and with external partners – working across disciplinary, organizational and national borders.

Promoting young academics

Helmholtz scientists, a high-performance infrastructure and modern and efficient research management are the ingredients to the Helmholtz Association‘s success and global impact.
Promoting young researchers is a major priority for the Helmholtz Association. Its qualification schemes for young researchers are geared mainly towards PhD students, postdocs and young managers. The Helmholtz Association has set high standards for its talent management. Its strategy begins with targeted recruitment of highly qualified staff at all levels, followed by comprehensive support aimed at further developing their potential. Ensuring equal opportunities is an essential element in all talent management activities undertaken by the Helmholtz Association.

The Helmholtz Graduate Schools and Research Schools at almost all Helmholtz Centres provide doctoral students with the general and specific skills and training they need, as well as ample opportunity to network with other working groups. The period following a doctorate is decisive in determining the direction and success of a scientific career. For this reason, we are about to establish Career Centers for postdoctoral researchers in the Helmholtz centres and a mentoring programme for especially gifted PostDocs in order to foster career orientation. This equips young researchers with the skills they need to go on to head a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group, for example. As a Young Investigator Group leader, junior scientists can independently set up their own group to conduct research in their specialist field.

Within its talent management strategy, the Helmholtz Association pays special attention to the increased recruitment of talented female scientists both from Germany and abroad. To this end, there are currently two funding programs supporting this policy Funding of first-time appointments of excellent women scientists (W2/W3)’ and ‘Funding to recruit top-level international women scientists (W3)’.

The increasing complexity of the content, structures and framework conditions of scientific work today requires researchers to organise their projects, their employees and, of course, themselves in a highly professional and effective way. In response to these demands, we have set up the Helmholtz Management Academy to provide junior leaders in science with professional management training. Furthermore, the Helmholtz network provides a platform for the alumni of the Helmholtz Management Academy and Mentoring programme to come together and share their experiences of leadership, career development and lifelong learning.

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