PhD Fellowship in Physics/Biocomplexity
University of Copenhagen Niels Bohr Institute

PhD fellowship in Physics/Biocomplexity

The Niels Bohr Institute invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in  biocomplexity. The project is part of the research project “Universal Biology”, started May 2022, led by Professor Kunihiko Kaneko, financed by Novo Nordisk Foundation
Start date for PhD is expected to be 01 April 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project
The project aims at uncovering universal characteristics and laws in life systems, in particular in adaptation, development, and evolution with the spirit of theoretical physics, by focusing on consistency between hierarchical levels – molecules, cells, organisms, and ecosystem. The ideal candidate will have a strong theoretical physics background, in particular statistical physics and dynamical systems. Previous knowledge of biology is not necessarily required, although high motivation to understand a life system with willingness to learn is needed.  Our research project is theoretical, by taking analytical, numerical, or data-driven approaches, with possible collaboration with experimental groups. 
Throughout the project, the candidate will be trained to be truly an interdisciplinary researcher in a creative and cross-disciplinary environment.       

Whom are we looking for?
We are looking for a talented, highly motivated and creative scientist who is interested in exploring fundamental questions at the interface between physics and quantitative biological systems.  
The position will deal with theoretical studies on a biological system.  Interplay with constructive numerical  modelling of complex phenomena and theoretical analysis  is postulated, to unveil and test hypothesis and laws in biological systems.  
The successful candidates must have excellent English skills, both written and oral. The successful candidate must be imaginative and hold a Masters degree in physics, biophysics or related disciplines. If you are (or are eligible to be) enrolled at one of the faculty’s master programs in physics, it is also an option to be enrolled in the integrated MSc and PhD program (See below).

Our group and research- and what do we offer?
We are part of the Center for Models of Life in the Biocomplexity section at the Niels Bohr Institute. We conduct research searching for possible answers to the fundamental question “what is life?”, based on theoretical physics, with the emphasis on the field of non-equilibrium phenomena, statistical physics, non-linear dynamics. The emerging field, Universal Biology aims to unveil universal characteristics in life systems and universal laws in adaptation, development, and evolution, with the spirit of physics (in particular, statistical physics and dynamical systems), by noting consistency between hierarchical levels – molecules, cells, organisms, and ecosystem.
See also for more details.
We formulate models based on physical and mathematical principles, intending to extract general laws. We have close international collaboration with many labs, in particular, with the Universal Biology Institute in Tokyo ( )

We offer a creative and exciting research atmosphere at the vibrant border between physics and biology. The PhD fellowship is given in accordance with Danish legislation and will typically run for 3 years. The salary is set accordingly to Danish Union Contracts which are quite competitive on an international scale.

Principal supervisor is  Professor Kunihiko Kaneko, Biocomplexity Section, The Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen. E-mail:

The PhD programme 
The PhD programme consists of a three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree. 

Qualifications needed for the regular programme
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. physics, complex systems, quantitative biology or a related field. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database. 

Terms of employment in the regular programme 
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years. 
Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant. 
The terms of employment and salary are in accordance to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure. 

Responsibilities and tasks 
•    Carry through an independent research project under supervision
•    Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
•    Carry out dissemination and teaching activities
•    Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
•    Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
•    Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
•    Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

We are looking for the following qualifications:
•    The grade point average achieved
•    Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
•    Relevant publications
•    Relevant work experience
•    Other relevant professional activities
•    Curious mind-set with a strong interest in physics and life science
•    Language skills

Application and Assessment Procedure
 Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below. 

Please include:  

  1. Cover Letter, detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project
  2. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position 
  3. Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted. 
  4. Publication list (if possible)
  5. Reference letters (if available)

Application deadline: 
The deadline for applications is 1 December 2022, 23:59 GMT+1.  
We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process 
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment. 
The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at 

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.
General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:
The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 01-12-2022
Employment start: 01-04-2023
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Niels Bohr Institutet

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