Postdoc position in environmental microbiology with a focus on mercury

Postdoc position in environmental microbiology with a focus on mercury

Umeå University

Umeå, Sweden

We are recruiting a talented post doc within a fully funded project on mercury cycling in oxygen deficient coastal seas. We are seeking an ambitious candidate who is interested in identifying mechanisms controlling formation and bioaccumulation of methylmercury in seas with pelagic redoxclines. Apply no later than 28th Jan 2019.

Project description and working tasks

You will study processes for formation and bioaccumulation of methylmercury in oxygen deficient coastal seas. The work will focus on studies on how the microbial populations which produce methylmercury, and how the molecular composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM), vary across pelagic redoxclines. The studies will be carried out in the Baltic Sea region, but the findings from the project will be applicable to many coastal and marine ecosystems.

Neurotoxic methylmercury accumulates in aquatic biota and mercury is considered one of the top ten chemicals of public health concern. Oxygen deficiency is spreading in coastal waters and the global ocean as one dramatic symptom of anthropogenic pollution and ecosystem perturbations. At oxygen deficient conditions redox stratifications and pelagic redox clines can form in the water column. Our mechanistic understanding on how pelagic redoxclines impact methylmercury formation, flux and exposure to biota is however insufficient. We will combine key competences in mercury biogeochemistry and molecular microbiology and use recently developed state-of-the-art methodologies to resolve these long-term outstanding research questions.

The post doc will conduct field sampling campaigns in the Baltic Sea and sample preparation, analyses and data interpretation to determine the (i) distribution of mercury methylation genes and their expression among microbial taxa, and (ii) molecular composition of DOM. The distribution of hgcA and associated Hg methylation genes among microbial taxa will be characterized by parallel quantitative metagenome and metatranscriptome analyses. The molecular composition of DOM will be characterized by FTICR-MS and/or Py-GCMS techniques. Concentrations of the central terminal electron acceptors Fe(III) and SO42- will also be determined. The treatment of the metagenome and metatranscriptome data will be carried out in close collaboration with project partners at Uppsala University and the Linnaeus University.

The major work tasks are to: (i) continuously be updated on the scientific literature of the research field, (ii) formulate scientific objectives and hypotheses within the project, (iii) plan and conduct advanced field sampling campaigns, laboratory experiments and modeling calculations, (iv) compile and interpret results, (v) present results in oral seminars (including at international conferences) and as scientific publications.

The post doc position and the project are fully funded by the Swedish research council Formas (2018-01031). The project will be conducted in close collaboration with a post doc in biogeochemistry and with a multi-disciplinary team of scientists in analytical chemistry, biogeochemistry and molecular microbiology at Umeå University (Assoc. Prof. Erik Björn), Stockholm University (Dr. Anne Soerensen), Uppsala University (Prof. Stefan Bertilsson) and Linnaeus University (Prof. Jarone Pinhassi).

The post doc position is full-time for a period of two years, starting at 1st of May 2019 or a date decided in agreement between the two parties that allows the postdoc to participate in summer field campaigns during 2019.


The required qualification is a doctoral degree, or a foreign degree that is deemed equivalent, in molecular microbiology or a related field within biology or biotechnology. To be eligible the degree should have been completed a maximum of three years before the end of the application period unless certain circumstances exist. Experience of molecular biology techniques is a requirement. The successful candidate must have a very good command of written and spoken English. You should be enthusiastic and determined, like experimental work, be precise, and be able to work both independently and in a group. Documented experience of the following topics is meriting: (1) Mercury biogeochemistry, (2) Research focusing on aquatic ecosystems, (3) Mass spectrometry techniques for analysis of organic matter, (4) Bioinformatics.


A complete application, written in Swedish or English, should contain the following documents:

- A cover letter including a description of your qualifications, research interests and motivation for applying, and your contact information (maximum 2 pages)

- A curriculum vitae, including a publication list

- Copies of your PhD thesis and relevant publications (pdf files)

- Copies of doctoral degree certificate or equivalent and other relevant degree certificates, including documentation of completed academic courses and obtained grades

- Name and contact information of at least two reference persons

- Other documents you wish to claim

Applications must be submitted via our e-recruitment system.

The last day to apply is 28th Jan 2019.

For more information please contact:

Assoc. Prof. Erik Björn, phone: +46 907865189, email:

Prof. Stefan Bertilsson, tfn: +46 184712712, e-post:

Prof. Jarone Pinhassi, tfn: +46 480446212, e-post:

Information about the department

Department of Chemistry is the largest department in the Faculty of Science and Technology, with approximately 200 employees, including about 40 doctoral students, and with a strong and expanding research. Three major areas of research; Biological Chemistry, Environmental and Biogeochemistry and Technical Chemistry, represents the research and chemistry education of our department. We are also a strong partner in KBC, The Chemical-Biological Centre. For more information about working at Umeå University,

Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology

Umeå University is dedicated to providing creative environments for learning and work. We offer a wide variety of courses and programmes, world leading research, and excellent innovation and collaboration opportunities. More than 4 300 employees and 31 500 students have already chosen Umeå University. We welcome your application!

Umeå University wants to offer an equal environment where open dialogue between people with different backgrounds and perspectives lay the foundation for learning, creativity and development. We welcome people with different backgrounds and experiences to apply for the current employment.

We kindly decline offers of recruitment and advertising help.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: AN 2.2.1-2142-18