PhD-position in Forestry

Foto: Erik Viklund
PhD-position in forestry with focus on ex-situ conservation of European ash and breeding for resistance against the fungal pathogen causing ash dieback throughout Europe.

Project description

Forestry is one of the major economic engines of Sweden as well as a socio-cultural icon. Healthy forests are important for meeting many societal demands and challenges especially now in a time of a growing bio-economy that requires a recognition of wood traits of many tree species as their potential has not been discovered.

In recent decades, forests in Sweden have been threatened by new and emerging pests and pathogens. European ash is one of several noble broadleaved tree species that has been affected by deadly invasive fungal diseases. Commonly known as ‘ash dieback’, this disease is largely threatening the existence of ash trees in Swedish populations and the species has been included in a national “Red-list” as a critically endangered. Ash is a highly valued timber tree species and has ecological and cultural importance in natural and urban environments. Ash wood is a substrate for range of other organisms such as beetles, lichens and fungi and are similarly threatened as a result of losing ash. 

Previous research shows that a very low level of the population has very high resistance to the disease in which trees survive several consecutive years of pathogen attack. This information will be used to reach a project goal to develop a highly resistant population of European ash that will be used to restore diseased landscapes.

Proposed research activities during the PhD will involve both traditional and advanced phenotypic selection; identifying potentially resistant individual trees in natural stands, clonal propagation and establishment of field trials for further screening under controlled conditions; studies of biochemical markers associated with disease resistance and population genetics; and use of advanced, portable phenotyping techniques based on  infrared spectroscopy; and artificial intelligence.  

The project will be carried out in a close collaboration between Skogforsk and SLU. The position is for 5-years and defined as 60% of research time at Skogforsk and 20% research time at SLU and 20% internship at Skogforsk. The internship consists of practical work at Skogforsk in close collaboration with forest companies.


The candidate should have acquired a Master’s degree, and have some knowledge or experience in subjects such as population genetics, forest genetics and breeding, plant biochemistry, molecular biology or corresponding subject. An academic background in forestry is considered a merit. A driver’s license is essential. The applicant must be willing to travel and spend up 3-6 months at our collaborator institute in USA. The student should have experience working in both field and laboratory conditions.

The candidate should be highly motivated, independent and collaborative, and demonstrate good communication in both oral and written English. The position includes communication with the Swedish forestry sector, therefore communication skills, both oral and written, in Swedish are a merit. Evaluation will be based on the motivation letter, quality and relevance of master program, publications, interview, and literature essay after the interview.

Prerequisites for PhD studies are 1-2 years at master level or an equivalent qualification form abroad. The applicant should also have good communication skills and proven skills in both oral and written scientific English. Creativity and drive are personal characteristics that are desirable (such as ability to collaborate, work independently, communicate efficiently, adaptable and flexible team player) due to the knowledge-driven aspect of the project.  


The application must be made via Skogforsk and must delivered not later than

Send the application to: with subject “Application SSF PhD”.

The application should include:

  • A motivation letter (max 2 pages) describing your research interest and why are you interested in the position
  • CV, including academic achievements
  • A copy of your Master thesis
  • Certificates from higher education and other documents that supports your application (attested)

Other information

The student will be employed by and positioned at Skogforsk, Ekebo, and accepted as a PhD student at the Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre, at SLU Alnarp.

The principle supervisor to this project are Associate Prof. Michelle Cleary at SLU and Dr. Mateusz Liziniewicz at Skogforsk.
If you have any questions about the position, pleas turn to Dr Mateusz Liziniewicz, phone: +46 (70) 999 87 06 or e-mail:

SACO’s union representative at Skogforsk is Johanna Enström (

About Skogforsk & SSFRC

Skogforsk is funded by the forest industry and the state. The demand-driven applied research includes a wide variety of fields, such as forest technology, raw-material utilization, environmental impact and conservation, forest tree breeding, logistic, forest bioenergy and silviculture. The institute has about 120 employees, of which 80 are researchers (

The Southern Swedish Forest Research Center (SSFRC), at SLU is a multidisciplinary institution with global relevance but specialized expertise on issues related to the dynamic forest landscapes of southern Sweden. The Department undertakes fundamental and applied research in silviculture, forest ecology, forest pathology, forest policy, and forest management and teaches bachelor, Masters and PhD level courses addressing all of these subject areas.  The Forest Pathology research group at SLU Alnarp conduct studies on the biology, ecology and epidemiology of endemic and exotic invasive forest pathogens, molecular diagnostics and host-pathogen interactions, infection and resistance biology of trees, and how to manage forest diseases in order to ensure multiple ecosystem benefits from forests.

11/15/2019 3:48 PM