Projects in the Microenvironmental Ecology Group / Marine Biology / Microbiology

Main area:Aquatic biology
Target group:Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biomedicine
Educational level:Masters, Bachelor
Project description:

I have 4-6 MSc projects available for starting up in 2021/22. You are also welcome to contact me about BSc projects, extra-curricular/external projects. See some general info below:

MSc projects in Microbial Ecology / Marine Biology / Symbiosis / Plant Ecophysiology

My research group studies the physico-chemical microenvironment and its importance for the ecology of microbes, biofilms, aquatic organisms and communities. We explore how the microenvironment affects and interacts with the metabolism, behavior and spatial organization of microbes and/or host tissue/cells – and we investigate how external environmental variables and stress factors modulate such interactions (see publications here). We aim at understanding fundamnetal links between structure and function in microbial communities, photosynthetic symbioses and aquatic plants.

We are at the frontier of the research field, where we develop and apply microsensors and various novel imaging and 3D-bioprinting techniques for analyzing physico-chemical microenvironments and metabolic activity in various surface-associated organisms and communities. We mostly focus on aquatic photosynthetic systems and organisms (biofilms, sediments, aquatic plants and various symbioses including corals, the sea anemone Aiptasia and upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea and foraminifera) but our methods also find application in e.g. terrestrial systems, and in medical microbiology.

We also have collaborations with other disciplines, e.g. in studies of the biofilm microenvironment and its importance in chronic bacterial infections. And there are good opportunities for joint projects with Rigshospitalet or at Panum.

Currently, the group consists of 1 professor, 1 assistant professor, 2 postdocs, 1 PhD student, and 1 technician. As a MSc project student, you will become an integral part of the group and participate in weekly group meetings, other scientific activities as well as social gatherings. Besides your main supervisor, you will also get a co-supervisor among one of the postdocs or PhD students in the group. Unless you go for an external thesis project, you will be based in the completely renovated offices and labs of the Marine Biological Section in Helsingør, where you will get a personal desk in an office shared with other masters and PhD students.

Many research projects involve international collaborations with colleagues and universities abroad and can sometimes involve field work in challenging and unique habitats such as Yellowstone National Park and the Great Barrier Reef or visits/work in other labs.  I am also associated with a climate change research center Climate Change Cluster at University of Technology Sydney (Australia). This can enable opportunities for combining a MSc project with shorter or longer stays abroad with bench fees or field work costs covered - but this is not mandatory for doing a project, and will typically rely on your ability to cover your basic transport/accommodation costs to/from Australia (advice on applying for such costs from foundations is available).

We are currently well-funded, and there are many opportunities to participate in our research and to formulate an exciting MSc project that will give new insights and publishable data. We also have good experience with group-projects and projects involving several sections (e.g. with Section for Microbiology) or institutions (e.g. projects with clinical/medical microbiologists at the University Hospital/Rigshospitalet and/or the Faculty of Health).

Examples of ongoing projects:
"Hypoxia effects on corals and their photosymbiont Symbiodonium"
"The ecology and ecophysiology of cyanobacteria with exotic chlorophylls"
"Imaging the chemical microenvironment of large cells"
"3D Bioprinting - making living structures of defined complexity"
"The ecology of chronic bacterial infections"
"The microenvironment of seagrasses and seed germination"
"The upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea as a model for the coral symbiosis"
"The ecology of beachrock biofilms in extreme habitats"

You are welcome to contact me via mail/phone or to schedule a meeting to discuss possibilities and ideas.

Supervisor: Michael Kühl

Michael Kühl (mobile +45 4047 6304) Twitter: @MicroSensing

Professor (Aquatic Microbial Ecology), Marine Biological Section (MARS), Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen Strandpromenaden 5, DK-3000 Helsingør, Denmark.

Methods used:microsensors, light and electron microscopy, bioimaging, pigment analysis, cultivation, growth experiments
Keywords:ecology, microbiology, aquatic biology, photobiology, ecophysiology
Project home page:
Supervisor(s):  Michael Kühl