Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


Job Board

PhD on the diversity, ecology and evolution
Liège, Belgium
University of Liège
  • Graduate Position

University of Liège is recruiting one PhD student who will be engaged in the recently started project HabitAnt: ‘Past and future habitability in Antarctic lakes: succession, colonization, extinction, and survival in glacial refugia’, funded by BelSPO BRAIN-BE.


Coupled climate and Earth-system models predict increased temperatures and altered precipitation patterns in vast regions of Maritime and coastal Continental Antarctica. These changes will likely result in more extensive glacial melt and the expansion of ice-free areas, increasing connectivity between regions, and changes in their hydrology. These projected environmental changes are expected to cause biotic homogenization between regions. Recent studies demonstrated that terrestrial and lacustrine biota in the Antarctic are more globally distinct and biogeographically structured than previously believed, due to the long-term survival and diversification of taxa in isolated glacial refugia. Hence, it is to be expected that biotic homogenisation will significantly increase the risk of extinction of endemic species and the spread of invasive species.

The students will use fossil DNA in selected lake sediments and develop molecular phylogenies of focal cyanobacterial taxa to study the processes that contributed to the present-day diversity of microorganisms  and  invertebrates  in  Antarctic  lakes.  The  processes  studied  include  the  long-term persistence  of  biota  in  glacial  refugia,  and  extinction,  colonization,  diversification  and  biological  succession in response to past climate and environmental changes. 


- Extraction  of  fossil  and  modern  DNA,  and  the  development  of  DNA  libraries  for  high-throughput sequencing.

- Isolation  of  new  strains  and  development  of  multi-gene  molecular  phylogenies  of  focal  cyanobacterial taxa.

- Bioinformatics and statistical analysis of metagenomics datasets. 

- Write scientific publications and present the results at international conferences.

The University of Liège (Uiège) with its more than 23000 students and 5500 staff members is fully part of  the  European  and  International  higher  education  and  research  area.  It  has  links  with  over  1000  institutions world-wide and is integrated in international academic and scientific networks. ULiège also qualifies for ECTS and HR Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R), labels granted by the European Commission,  which  guarantees  the  quality  of  the  training  and  administrative  support  given  to 

exchange bachelors, master’s students, PhD-candidates and Post-doc researchers. Liège is also a lively city, with a dynamic cultural life. We offer:

- a full-time 4-year position as a PhD-student at ULiège (start autumn 2021) 

- A dynamic, challenging, and stimulating research environment 

- high-quality training to develop hard and soft skills, 

- opportunities  to  participate  in  sampling  campaigns  to  Antarctica  and  international  scientific  conferences, 

- a competitive salary and social benefits.


  • You hold a  Master’s  degree  in  Sciences:  Biology,  Biochemistry,  Bioengineering,  or  Bioinformatics.  Holders of a PhD degree cannot apply.
  • You obtained excellent grades in your bachelor and MSc degree.
  • Practical experience in the application of DNA markers in environmental samples and

bioinformatic analyses of high-throughput sequencing datasets is an asset. 

  • You preferably have practical experience in the isolation, cultivation, characterization and/or preservation of microbial strains.
  • You have programming skills in bash or another scripting language, and R.
  • You have good communication and writing skills and have an excellent knowledge of written and spoken English. You like to carry out outreach activities.
  • You are self-critical, you work with rigor and attention for detail, and you work accurately in the wet lab.
  • You combine being a team player with a strong sense of autonomy and responsibility. You are capable of developing, planning and organizing your own research work and meeting deadlines imposed by the project
  • You are willing to participate in sampling campaigns and apply for additional funding when eligible.

Contact APECS

APECS International Directorate
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research
Telegrafenberg A45
14473 Potsdam
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Our Sponsors

APECS Directorate Sponsor
AWI WortBildmarke Farbe RGB
Further Sponsors and Partners for APECS projects, activities and events