Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

PhD position for an Early Stage Researcher (ESR) in insect pathology - Development of diagnostic tools for pathogen detection in mass reared insects

    Institute for Biological Control, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants
    Biological sciences
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    26/01/2020 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Germany › Darmstadt
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Does it appeal to you to work with large sequencing data to detect pathogens? Are you interested in the detection and dispersion of such pathogens in host populations? Do you want to participate in an innovative European training network to assist the upcoming industry of insect mass rearing? Then we are looking for you to participate in the upcoming INSECT DOCTORS (www.insectdoctors.eu) project (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions- International Training Networks, MSCA-ITN).

Outbreaks of infectious diseases in insect mass rearing are a challenge to the rapidly growing industry of insect mass production of insects in Europe. Insect pathogens, such as viruses, fungi, bacteria and microsporidia, are almost omnipresent and threaten the economic production of reared insects by disease outbreaks triggered by factors that are not entirely understood.

The aim of this project is the development of robust, reliable and easy to use diagnostic tools for pathogen detection based on next generation sequencing techniques.



The PhD position you are applying for is part of a large Double Degree Programme called INSECT DOCTORS, funded by the European Commission. The overall aim of the INSECT DOCTORS’ training programme is to educate a new generation of scientist that have in-depth knowledge on insect pathogens, as well as the skills to assist the upcoming industry of insect mass rearing to prevent disease outbreaks in their insect cultures.

In total, 15 PhD positions are available in this programme, and each PhD candidate will be enrolled at two universities in different European countries. Each PhD candidate will have his/her own research project involving stays in at least two countries. Several novel PhD courses will be offered to all PhD candidates of INSECT DOCTORS.

To learn more about the training network please visit our website: www.insectdoctors.eu.


The PhD student will be primarily based at the Institute for Biological Control, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants in Darmstadt, Germany under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Johannes Jehle and Dr. Jörg Wennmann. Dr. Joel González-Cabrera of the Department of Genetics, University of Valencia will co-supervise the PhD programme. The student will be required to spend at 12 month at the University of Valencia. The double degree for this PhD position will be awarded by the Technical University Darmstadt and the University of Valencia.


About us

The Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) (http://www.julius-kuehn.de/en) is the Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants in Germany and an autonomous superior federal authority directly subordinated to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The Institute for Biological Control is one of 17 specialized institutes. It is located in Darmstadt between Frankfurt and Heidelberg. Our research focus is on natural antagonists against pests and diseases of cultivated plants. Biological control relies on diverse tools, including beneficial insects including ladybirds or parasitic wasps, but also on a wide range of micro-organisms and viruses, as well as plant extracts. Biological control assists to protect plants against pests and diseases and has a low impact on the ecology of agro-ecosystems.


The University of Valencia (UV) is one of the oldest universities of Spain. It is a public, modern and innovative university, focused on teaching and research in most academic fields. The group of Biotechnological Control of Pest (www.cbp.com.es ) is placed at the campus of Science, located next to the scientific park of the University. The city of Valencia is well known for its laid-back atmosphere and for building bridges between traditions and modernity.


  • An enrolment as Early Stage Researcher (ESR) according to the rules of the MSCA-ITN for 3 years at the Institute for Biological Control, Julius Kühn Institute, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, in Darmstadt, Germany. During your three years research activity, you will spend 12 months at the University of Valencia in Spain.
  • A double degree PhD programme involving Technical University Darmstadt and University of Valencia.
  • As a PhD candidate, you will participate in the INSECT DOCTORS training program.
  • Salary: remuneration is in line with EC rules for Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN projects: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2018-2020/main/h2020-wp1820-msca_en.pdf.

Eligibility criteria

In order to be eligible for a place within INSECT DOCTORS, strict rules are set out by the European Commission. So please make sure you comply with these rules when applying.

  • You must be an Early-Stage Researcher (ESR), meaning that at the day of your recruitment (= start date of your contract) you must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career, after obtaining your MSc degree.
  • You have not been awarded a doctoral degree before.
  • Mobility Rule: You must not have resided or carried out your main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the day of your recruitment. For this particular PhD position the country of the recruiting organisation is Germany. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention 1, are not taken into account.

Eligibility based on the rules set by the European Committee (https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/sites/mariecurie2/files/msca-itn-fellows-note_en_v2.pdf).

Selection process

How to apply

Please send your application stating the project number (INSECT DOCTORS ERS10 PhD candidate) to bewerbungen.darmstadt@julius-kuehn.de (single PDF file, max 10 MB, other file formats will not be considered).

Please indicate in your motivation letter why you are particularly interested in this project and whether you have applied or intend to apply for other PhD positions in the INSECT DOCTORS network.

  • Cover Letter, detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project (max. 2 pages)
  • Your CV
  • Your full contact details
  • Copies of relevant certificates
  • Proof of sufficient English language test results or proof of MSc education in English.
  • Please indicate in your application whether you have also applied or intend to apply for other PhD positions in the INSECT DOCTORS programme

Additional comments

For more information about this function, please contact Joerg Wennmann (+49-6151-407248; joerg.wennmann@julius-kuehn.de) or Joel González-Cabrera (+34-96-354-3122; joel.gonzalez@uv.es).

General information about the Institute for Biological Control can be found at https://www.julius-kuehn.de/en/biological-control/

Offer Requirements

    Biological sciences: Master Degree or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent


To ensure efficient communication within INSECT DOCTORS, proof of English language proficiency is required. In case the candidate 1) is from an Anglophone country, or 2) has completed his/her education with English as the language of instruction (in this case an official letter of the higher education institution is needed stating so), an English Language Test is not needed. In all other cases, we require the PhD students to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language that is not older than 24 months. Minimum required scores are:

  1. TOEFL internet-based 90, with minimum sub-score 23 for speaking
  2. IELTS 6.5, with minimum sub-score 6.0 for speaking
  3. Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) minimum grade B
  4. Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) any grade

Please note, that these rules are not negotiable.

The Julius Kühn Institute ist commited to inclusion. Applications from people with disabilities are expressly welcome. These will be given special consideration. We guarantee professional equality.


You have

  • A master degree in a relevant field (Biology, Bioinformatic, Molecular Life Sciences, Biochemistry, Biotechnology). We especially invite candidates with practical experience in Bioinformatics to respond;
  • Experience in analyzing and dealing with large bioinformatic data generated by whole genome sequencing technologies;
  • A proven ability to organize and conduct laboratory experiments;
  • Eagerness to participate in the INSECT DOCTORS project (MSCA-ITN) training programme and willingness to work and carry out research in Germany and in Spain;
  • Ability to work in an international research team in a collaborative spirit;
  • Proficiency in the English language (both written and spoken).


Map Information

Job Work Location Personal Assistance locations
Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Institute for Biological Control, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants
Heinrichstr. 243

EURAXESS offer ID: 475411


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