PhD position in Computational Sciences within the national Data-Driven Life Sciences program

Umeå University

Application deadline

June 17, 2024

PhD position in Computational Sciences within the national Data-Driven Life Sciences program

Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics

  •  Temporary position
  •  100%
  •  Umeå

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest higher education institutions with over 37,000 students and about 4,700 employees. The University offers a diversity of high-quality education and world-leading research in several fields. Notably, the groundbreaking discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was made here. At Umeå University, everything is close. Our cohesive campuses make it easy to meet, work together and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture.

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The Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics is opening a PhD position in Computational Sciences within the national Data-Driven Life Science program. The position covers four years of third-cycle studies, including participation in research and third-cycle courses. The last day to apply is June 17, 2024. 

This position is part of a national data-driven life science (DDLS) program recruitment. DDLS uses data, computational methods, and artificial intelligence to study biological systems and processes at all levels, from molecular structures and cellular processes to human health and global ecosystems. The SciLifeLab and Wallenberg National Program for DDLS aims to recruit and train the next generation of data-driven life scientists and to create globally leading computational and data science capabilities in Sweden. The program is funded with a total of 3.1 billion SEK (about 290 MUSD) over 12 years from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg (KAW) Foundation.

In 2024, the DDLS Research School will be launched, and 20 academic and seven industrial PhD students will be recruited. During the course of the DDLS program, more than 260 PhD students and 200 postdocs will be part of the Research School. The DDLS program has four strategic areas: cell and molecular biology, evolution and biodiversity, precision medicine and diagnostics, epidemiology and biology of infection. For more information, please see

The future of life science is data-driven. Will you be part of that change? Then join us in this unique program!

Project description and tasks

This project addresses a fundamental topic in evolution concerning how and why microbes interact in the ways they do. We know that microbes have many possible options, or strategies, regarding what resources they consume to grow. Depending on these choices, pairs of microbes may either compete or cooperate. What actually happens depends on the ability of microbes to correctly assess the situation, i.e. solve a type of inference problem. Yet, little is known about the difficulty of this inference problem or what heuristics organisms might evolve. 

This research project is a collaboration between Eric Libby and Laura Carroll. It involves using machine learning techniques to infer the mechanisms by which microbes make decisions, bioinformatic techniques to compare these mechanisms to empirical data, and game theory and modeling approaches to improve our understanding. The project has many exciting directions and opportunities for different quantitative tools and approaches. 

The position is part of the DDLS research school, which means that the student will receive training and resources as a part of the DDLS program.  In addition, the student will be based at the interdisciplinary center, IceLab, where they will gain professional training in communication as well as in conducting interdisciplinary research.


The doctoral student will be admitted to study the third-cycle subject, Computational Science and Engineering (CSE), specialising in mathematics.

To be admitted for studies at third-cycle level the applicant is required to have completed a second-cycle level degree or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an equivalent education from overseas or equivalent qualifications. To fulfil the specific entry requirements to be admitted for studies at third-cycle level in CSE, the applicant is required to have completed at least 90 ECTS credits in CSE courses, of which at least 30 ECTS credits shall have been acquired at second-cycle level. CSE courses refer to courses with major quantitative, statistical, or computing science elements, such as courses in computing science, mathematics, and mathematical statistics, as well as relevant courses in biology, ecology, physics, and chemistry. Applicants who, in some other system either within Sweden or abroad, have acquired largely equivalent skills are also eligible. 

Candidates need to be highly skilled in both oral and written communication in English, and must also be able to work independently as well as part of an interdisciplinary collaborative team. 

Candidates must be proficient in at least one relevant programming language, e.g., Python, Rust, R, Julia, Matlab, C++, etc. A good background in mathematics, modeling, computer science, and/or programming is qualifying. Interest in and knowledge of evolutionary biology, microbiology, and molecular biology are desirable but not necessary, as well as interest in and knowledge of machine learning, bioinformatics, and data processing.

The PhD student is expected to play an active role in developing this doctoral project and the department. In addition, the PhD student is expected to have a scientific, structured, flexible, and result-oriented approach to their work. 

The assessment of applicants is based on their qualifications and ability to benefit from the doctoral study they will receive.

About the employment

The position is intended to result in a doctoral degree. The main task of doctoral students is to pursue their third-cycle studies, including active participation in research and third-cycle courses. The duties may include teaching or other departmental work, although duties of this kind may not comprise more than 20% of a full-time post. The employment is for a fixed term of four years full-time or up to five years when teaching part-time. Salary is set according to the salary ladder for PhD positions at Umeå University. Employment commences fall 2024 or by agreement. 


Applications will be accepted via our recruitment system. Log in and apply via the button at the bottom of the page. The deadline for applications is June 17, 2024. The application must include the following documents written in English or Swedish:

  • A cover letter briefly describing your qualifications and research interests, an explanation of why you are applying for the position and why you feel your qualifications and experience are relevant.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Authenticated copies of degree certificates, diplomas or equivalent, including documentation of completed academic courses, received grades, and other certificates.
  • Copies of relevant work such as master’s thesis or articles you have authored or co-authored. If the master’s thesis has not been completed before the application deadline, a summary of the master’s thesis project and current progress shall be included. The summary can, at most be five pages, including figures and references.
  • Your GMAT (or GRE) and TOEFL/IELTS test scores if available.
  • Contact details for at least two references.

The Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics values the qualities that gender balance brings to the department. We are therefore particularly keen to hear from female applicants.

Pursuant to Chapter 12 Section 2 of the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance (SFS 1993:100), the decision regarding the position cannot be appealed.

More information

Additional information about the position:
Associate Professor Eric Libby, or Assistant Professor Laura Carroll,

Further information about the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics:

Welcome with your application!

Last updated: 2024-05-15

Content Responsible: Hampus Persson(