NFR funded PhD position in sensory biology of Octopus

Norwegian University of Science and Technology
October 15, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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The Department of Biology has a vacancy for a

NFR funded PhD position in sensory biology of Octopus This is NTNU

NTNU is a broad-based university with a technical-scientific profile and a focus in professional education. The university is located in three cities with headquarters in Trondheim.

At NTNU, 9,000 employees and 43,000 students work to create knowledge for a better world.

You will find more information about working at NTNU and the application process here.

About the job

We are looking for a PhD Student in marine invertebrate sensory biology with a focus on Octopus and in particular Eledone cirrhosa. The project is funded by the NFR through a FRIPRO young talents research grant. The position is for three years and you will report to Lena van Giesen (Associate Professor).

This project will investigate how Octopus use their specific touch taste modality to adapt to specific habitats and investigate how the cellular and molecular underpinnings work together with the peripherally distributed nervous system to support this particular behavior. The project will focus on Ion channel Biophysics focusing on chemotactile receptors (CRs) and combine the results with cellular physiology, anatomy, behavior to address how species specific variation in protein expression and tuning is related to the animals behavior. We also closely collaborate with other researchers to bring these aspects into an environmental context (see relevant publications here: https: // www. and here: https: // www.

In the van Giesen lab we study sensory perception and processing in marine invertebrates. Navigating through a world full of complex information necessitates elaborate sensory organs that are capable of filtering and encoding relevant signals to guarantee the animals survival. These sensory cells and organs are the first connection between the outside world and the nervous system of the animal and are composed of complex cellular and molecular features that have evolved to suit the animal's unique behavior. We have an interest in cellular physiology, to understand how these cellular and molecular determinants evolved to enable organisms to sense and adapt to their specific niche in the environment. We use different methods to investigate these questions including behavior, anatomy, transcriptomics and electrophysiology with a focus on marine invertebrates, such as corals and Cephalopods.

The successful candidate will work in a highly collaborative environment on different aspects of Ion channel Biophysics, cellular, molecular, and behavioral aspects of sensory perception in Ooctopus and should have a general interest in cellular physiology, protein biochemistry and behavioral analysis as well as a basic background in R or transcriptome analysis.

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.

Duties of the position
  • To conduct research in the lab responsibly
  • Collecting and analysing data relevant to the research question
  • To participate in group meetings and discussions
  • To attend to conferences and disseminate findings
  • To engage in a collaborative research environment
  • To assist MSc and other PhD students
  • To write and defend a PhD thesis
  • Required selection criteria
  • https: // www. scientific background in relevant area, good communication- and analytical skills.
  • Educational requirements: 5 years of higher education (BSc and MSc) in Neuroscience, Molecular or Cellular Biology, Animal physiology, Biochemistry or another related field.
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • The ability to work independently, in a structured manner and in collaboration with others.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program (Application and admission to the PhD programmes - Faculty of Natural Sciences - NTNU)
  • Very good written and oral English skills.
  • The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant

    Preferred selection criteria
  • Experience with Behavior, Electrophysiology, Biochemistry or Molecular Biology
  • Experience in working with and housing marine invertebrates
  • Experience with data analysis or Bioinformatics including relevant scripting languages (e.g. R)
  • Understanding of the value of working with rare and protected species
  • Passion for science and science communication
  • Personal characteristics
  • Enthusiasm for scientific research and lab work
  • Self-motivated
  • Good team player and collaborative skills
  • Solution oriented
  • Reliable
  • Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

    We offer
  • Exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment
  • An open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • Favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • employee benefits
  • Salary and conditions

    As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 532 200 per annum before tax. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

    The period of employment is 3 years. Earliest start date is 01 January 2024.

    Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme, within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

    The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

    The position is subject to external funding, NFR.

    It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

    About the application

    The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

    Publications and other scientific work must be attached to the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

    The application must include:

  • CV and certificates
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • A one-page research statement explaining what you think are the biggest knowledge gaps in marine sensory biology and how you would address them.
  • Name and address of three referees
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work
  • If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

    Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

    In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates.

    NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

    General information

    Working at NTNU

    NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees' needs.

    The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

    As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

    A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation. You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

    If you have any questions about the position, please contact Lena Van Giesen, email [email protected]. If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Andrea Sommervold, e-mail: [email protected]

    If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.

    Application deadline: 15.10.2023

    NTNU - knowledge for a better world

    NTNU - knowledge for a better world

    The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

    Department of Biology

    We work with global challenges in natural diversity, climate, the environment, health and nutrition. Our expertise in biological processes at all levels – from molecules to ecosystems – contributes to a sustainable society. The Department educate graduates for a wide range of careers in public administration, business and academia. The Department of Biology is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.


    15th October 2023


    NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology




    Fulltime (1 positions) Fulltime (%)



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    Gløshaugen, 7491 Trondheim

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