Microbiology / molecular biology / analytical chemistry

Job Type
Job Rank
Post-doc / Research manager
Job Institution
Department of marine sciences, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Job Description

Type of employment: Fixed-term 2 year postdoctoral employment with possibility for renewal
Location: Department of Marine Sciences, Gothenburg, Sweden
Closing date: March 1, 2023
First day of employment: Negotiable, but preferably prior to September 1, 2023

Subject areas: marine biological sciences, bioengineering, mechatronics, energy systems engineering, automation and control engineering, electromechanical engineering, hydraulic engineering, computer science, programming, systems design

Project Description

Controlled environment aquatic (CEA) food production systems can provide resilient farm-to-table supplies of nutritious food under diverse climatic conditions. An example of a circular CEA is a recirculating aquaculture systems that incorporate fish production with greenhouse hydroponic systems for vegetable production in a system known as aquaponics. Aquaponics systems integrate hydroponics and aquaculture with microbial biofilters to recover nutrients and energy, reduce wastes, and conserve water. Such systems are climate-controlled and thus can also make use of renewable energy sources (wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric) to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

This position is part of a European Union-funded project to improve productivity of CEA systems with precision farming tools. Sensors that monitor critical CEA physicochemical variables are commercially available, but decision support systems (DSS) need to be developed and provide operators with timely feedback to maintain balanced system functionality. DSS need to facilitate efficient production but be simple enough to understand and troubleshoot by farmers without extensive training or experience. Outputs need to augment operators’ knowledge and insights about optimizing conditions while contributing to savings in resources, time and labour.

Project Objectives

In this project, the successful candidate will work with industrial and academic partners to make two key improvements in CEA designs: (a) better integration of photovoltaics, geothermal technology and passive solar technology to maximize energy efficiency of aquaponics systems; (b) improve the applications of sensors to collect data for parameters such as pH, turbidity, temperature, oxygen-carbon dioxide concentrations which can be integrated with programmable automation controllers to adjust flow rates and nutrient dosing. Visual cues and personal trial-and-error experience are often unreliable or not timely enough to redirect sub-processes. The use of machine learning and the ability to couple CEA systems with a digital twin for continuous and simultaneous sensor monitoring make it possible to model and establish favourable environmental parameters so that system operators can recognize optimal operating conditions, or initiate biofeedback protocols to provide better insights for troubleshooting system perturbations. Within this framework, there is considerable latitude to adjust this project to adjust objectives to a candidate’s skills and interests.

Working Environment
The candidate will be based at the University of Gothenburg, but will also be responsible for running applied experiments in several international CEA facilities. This requires flexibility for longer stays at collaborating institutions, as well as international travel to participate in meetings, working groups, conferences and visits with industry partners. In addition to travel, the work involves communicating with a multidisciplinary team of aquaculture researchers, engineers and data scientists in several international research groups. Therefore it is essential to have demonstrated team skills and proficiencies in both verbal and written English.

The exact start date for the position is negotiable, and the position comes with a competitive salary plus coverage from Swedish national health and business travel insurance as well as a full spectrum of vacation and travel benefits.

Candidates require doctoral degrees in fields such as bioengineering, mechatronics, energy systems engineering, automation and control engineering, electro-mechanical engineering, hydraulic engineering, and related disciplines. Knowledge of and demonstrated experience with integrated circuit designs for micro-electro-mechanical systems and programmable automation controllers will be important.

It is not a requirement to have prior experience with freshwater or marine aquaculture, hydroponic crop production or aquaponics but such experience would be advantageous. Please note clearly if you have any background in technical operation of aquarium, aquaculture tanks or multiphase bioreactors, as well as experience in hydroponic, plant nutrition or irrigation systems. The successful candidates must have excellent English verbal and written communication skills. In addition to exemplary teamwork and communication skills, the position will involve project planning and coordination (experimental design, purchasing, logistics), thus requiring demonstrated independence in that regard.

Application process:
Submission must occur via the online application portal and include:
• A CV and cover letter that describes how the applicant meets the selection criteria
• Evidence of strong academic writing skills (include full text of first-author peer-reviewed manuscripts, any reports or project/grant proposals written, and a copy of the PhD dissertation)
• Name and contact details of three referees attached in a file entitled References ‘your name’.pdf

If the following items are not evident on the CV, please state clearly in the cover letter (a) your willingness to travel internationally for research periods in collaborating labs (b) evidence of teamwork (c) competence with specific statistical software.