PhD Position in Neuroecology of Insect Navigation

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  • University/Institute Name Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
  • University/Institute Name Department of Biology
  • Position Funding Type Fully funded (e.g. RA, TA, Scholarship, etc.)
  • Position Duration3 years
  • Attendance Type On Campus
  • Application deadlineExpired

Position Details (PhD)

We are seeking for a highly motivated PhD candidate in the Department of Biology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to join the group of Basil el Jundi ( The candidate should have a solid background in sensory ecology, neuroethology, and/or neuroscience. A strong interest in insect navigation, an excellent track record and experience with performing behavioral experiments or electrophysiological recordings and programming would be desirable. The group aims to create an international work environment and therefore encourages international applicants to apply.

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree. The ideal starting date is 01.05.2023, but a later date is negotiable. The deadline for applying is 15.02.2023.

In the el Jundi lab we are interested in understanding the behavioral and neural mechanisms of spatial orientation and navigation in insects and how these mechanisms are shaped by an animal’s ecology and lifestyle. Currently, the main focus of the lab is to unravel the mechanisms behind the annual monarch butterfly migration. Each fall, millions of monarch butterflies migrate over thousands of kilometers from North America to certain trees in the mountain ranges of Central Mexico. How exactly these animals find these trees at the end of their journey is completely unknown.

Duties of the position

The PhD candidate will perform behavioral experiments on the sensory ecology of monarch butterflies. Using a flight simulator in the field and in the lab, the relevance of different cues from the overwintering site, such as certain chemical compounds from the overwintering trees, will be studied to unravel how exactly the butterflies localize their migratory destination. Thus, the PhD candidate is expected to perform experiments at the NTNU and to participate on annual research trips to the US/Mexico. In addition, the PhD candidate has the possibility to combine her/his behavioral experiments with neurophysiological methods (e.g. intracellular recordings, multichannel tetrode recordings) to study how the different cues are processed in the butterfly brain.

Required selection criteria

  • Educational requirements: 5 years of higher education (BSc and MSc) in Behavioral Ecology, Animal Physiology, Neuroscience or another related field.
  • Strong scientific background in relevant area, good communication- and analytical skills.
  • The ability to work independently, in a structured manner and in collaboration with others.
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, 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 (

The appointment is to be made in accordance with  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 Behavioral and Sensory Ecology, Neuroscience
  • Experience with data analysis including relevant scripting languages (e.g. MATLAB)
  • Very good written and oral English skills
  • Passion for science and science communication

Personal characteristics

  • Enthusiasm for scientific research and lab work
  • Self-motivated
  • Good team player and collaborative skills
  • Solution oriented
  • Reliable

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 501 200 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.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Biology 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 your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include:

  • CV with information on education, previous research experience, together with authorized documentation of certificates and study records.
  • 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.
  • One-page statement of skills and research interest
  • One-page application letter concerning your motivation for completing a PhD in this lab group
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work
  • Name and contact details of three referees

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.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short 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.


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