PhD Candidate within Ocean Modeling and Marine Plastic Transport

Trondheim, Norway
25 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
07 Jan 2022
Contract Type
Full Time

Research Collaboration in Sustainability/Tverrfaglige bærekraftsprosjekter

Research Collaboration in Sustainability

In 2015, the 2030 agenda with the 17 sustainability goals was adopted by all UN member states. The sustainability goals see the environment, economy and social development in context. The time horizon for necessary changes is short, and it is challenging to combine different considerations without conflicts of objectives and unintended consequences of measures.

NTNU is now announcing 43 individual PhD positions that will contribute to a greater understanding of system effects, societal changes and conflicts of interest related to the sustainability challenges. These positions are divided into 9 interdisciplinary projects with mainly 4-7 PhD positions in each project (

In this position, the candidate is expected to cooperate with the other PhD students in the project MAPLE (

About the position

We have a vacancy for a PhD candidate in the Marine Civil Engineering Group at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The appointment has a duration of 3 years, or 4 years (including 1 year teaching duties). The appointment is financed by NTNU through its call for interdisciplinary research collaboration in sustainability.

The position is a part of the MAPLE project (Marine Plastic Pollution: Environmental impact and life cycle scenarios). MAPLE is an interdisciplinary research project between researchers from the Department of Energy and Process Engineering, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Department of Geography and the Department of Biology and contains four PhD positions.

One of the biggest issues for marine ecosystems is the battle against plastic pollution and its effects. Plastic is a very diverse material that can be found floating on the surface, suspended in water columns and on the seafloor. It effects very different biological communities at these different locations in the water column.

To solve the plastic crisis in the oceans, we need to understand how and where plastic is distributed, what impact microbial communities have on the degree of degradation and sedimentation of plastic particles, and what alternative options exist to minimize the use and mismanagement of plastic.

MAPLE focuses on marine plastic pollution and its environmental impacts in Trondheimsfjorden and the outer coast of central Norway. We combine field studies, laboratory studies and computer modelling in an interdisciplinary approach to understand this complex problem.

The activities in this PhD project will result in a numerical model cascade capable of predicting the transport and accumulation of plastic debris, including microplastics, along with their transport pathways from source to sink. Expected transport pathways for microplastics in this case being from their primary (wastewater treatment effluent, surface runoff) or secondary (river, ocean currents and gyres) source, to their sink (offshore or coastal sediments). The research will focus on typical microplastic transport pathways from river to sea. This includes outfall from sources, mixing, turbulent interactions, stratification, breakdown and deposition while ensuring key details regarding the behavior of plastic debris are accounted for in the simulations. The investigations will focus on identification of pathways and repositories of marine plastic waste. The numerical modeling is based on the open-source hydrodynamics framework REEF3D, developed at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Advanced high-performance numerical algorithms are combined with state-of-the-art supercomputer infrastructure to represent the ocean and the marine transport processes on the relevant scales. Interdisciplinary collaboration within the MAPLE project and the Marine Civil Engineering group are envisaged.

The position reports to the head of department Prof. Vikas Thakur. The main supervisor of the PhD position will be Prof. Hans Bihs.

Duties of the position

  • Advance modelling capabilities for marine plastic transport in the ocean
  • Contribute to the development of open-source software
  • Publish in top-ranking journals and conferences
  • Perform excellent and independent research on topics attached to the positions
  • Collaborate with the project team from different research groups at the department

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in ocean modelling, physical oceanography, hydrodynamics, environmental fluid dynamics as well as in the corresponding numerical methods
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level 
  • 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. 
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program ( 
  • Excellent understanding of hydrodynamics and turbulence
  • Strong background in numerical methods for the simulation of ocean currents and waves
  • Experience with using numerical models for current, waves or environmental transport calculations
  • Excellent English skills, spoken and written

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants 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 the high-performance computing aspects of numerical modelling
  • Te candidate should have a strong interest and knowledge in scientific computing, numerical modeling and in applying computational mathematics for interdisciplinary engineering problems
  • Programming skills in C/C++ and Python/Matlab
  • Prior experience with REEF3D is advantageous

Personal characteristics

  • Self-motivated, enthusiastic, and dedicated
  • Motivated to solve environmental problems and advance sustainability
  • Ambitious and goal-oriented
  • Team player
  • Excellent communication skills

We offer

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 491 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years, or 4 years with 25 % of compulsory work (a decision of 3 or 4 years is made in connection with the recruitment process, recommendation and offer, after assessment of whether compulsory work is suitable for the relevant candidate).

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Civil Engineering ( 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.

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 follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include: 

  • CV, certificates and diplomas 
  • 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
  • Project proposal  
  • Research plan 
  • 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

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

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.

In accordance with The Public Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact professor Hans Bihs, email If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Senior Executive Officer HR, e-mail:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number IV-252/21 when applying.

Application deadline: 07.01.2022

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 Civil and Environmental Engineering

We conduct research and teaching in civil and transportation engineering, technical planning, structural engineering, water and wastewater engineering and hydraulic engineering. Graduates from our programmes become employees – in both the public and private sectors – with a sustainability mindset combined with competitive knowledge and skills. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Engineering.

Deadline 7th January 2022
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service

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