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General Information


Understanding the contribution of microorganisms to ecosystem processes remains one of the most compelling challenges in ecology and requires a high degree of interdisciplinary research.

The Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Vienna has gathered an exceptional number of renowned experts over the past years with complementary research areas in microbial ecology, functional genomics and aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem research.

This joint PhD program from ten faculty members from three departments aims to provide highly integrated, interdisciplinary and international education, training and research, and is dedicated to creating knowledge and expertise in both microbial ecology and ecosystems research.

All PhD projects focus on the nitrogen cycle and its microbial components, a topic to which most members of the faculty have already made significant contributions. The projects are arranged in two major themes: (I) Terrestrial Ecosystems and Eukaryote - Microbe Interactions and (II) Metabolic flexibility and niche differentiation.

All students participate in a program of education and training in generic skills and cutting-edge techniques, including single cell analysis (e.g. Raman and NanoSIMS spectrometry), innovative cultivation strategies, comparative and functional (meta)genomics and -proteomics, as well as community-scale (e.g. Chip-SIP) and ecosystem-scale techniques (e.g. isotope pool dilution techniques, isotope fractionation).

The consortium is committed to provide a highly integrated PhD program combining both molecular environmental microbiology and ecosystems research, in particular through (i) the selection of interdisciplinary research projects, (ii) the selection of an interdisciplinary team of (co-)supervisors, (iii) the implementation of individual study plans, (iv) interdisciplinary workshops and lecture series, and (v) secondments to international laboratories with complementary expertise. To this end we are also affiliated with the Vienna Doctoral School "Molecules of Life", bringing together groups from the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna with the aim to foster education, cooperation and interaction among students and group leaders from different backgrounds and disciplines of Biology. 

Our vision is that this PhD program will shape a new generation of scientists capable of working both conceptually and technically at the interface of molecular microbial ecology and ecosystems research.

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