PhD position on Antarctic diatoms

We are seeking a motivated student to work on a project entitled “Diatom diversity and community assembly in the polar oases of Antarctica.” The project will based in the DiCE laboratory at Department of Ecology, Charles University, in Prague, Czechia.

Project description: Antarctica is Earth’s most pristine and geographically isolated continent. While 99 % of its terrestrial area is ice-covered, freshwater habitats scatter the ice-free oases near the coast, representing important habitat for Antarctic biodiversity. Currently, rapid climate changes are fundamentally transforming these limno-terrestrial habitats, and at the same time, Antarctic diversity remains critically under-documented due to the majority of it being microbial. Of the microbial eukaryotes, diatoms (single-celled siliceous algae) are likely the most diverse. Diatoms have been widely studied from Antarctica using morphological methods, yet they have been rarely studied using molecular methods (e.g. DNA metabarcoding) despite widespread cryptic diversity within this group. As a result, we are only beginning to get a sense of Antarctic diatom diversity, community assembly, and biogeography. This contrasts strongly with the application of diatoms in biomonitoring and as ecological proxies, and combined with the imminent impacts of climate change makes their study particularly urgent.

The focus of this PhD topic will be to:

1) Compare morphological/molecular diatom diversity from different habitats and regions

2) Characterize and quantify diatom community assembly processes with DNA metabarcoding

3) Synthesize results to project how communities will shift with climate change

The position is available for up to four years, starting October 2024. The student’s net monthly income will start at CZK 25 000 (EUR ~1 000) in the first year, and may progressively increase with experience and achievements during the study. (Note that living expenses in the Czech Republic are lower than in Western European countries. This income is sufficient to cover all necessary living costs in Prague. Health insurance will also be covered). The Department of Ecology hosts faculty members with a wide range of different interests, spanning ornithology to microbial ecology. The student may also spend some time abroad at a collaborating institution in the framework of the ERASMUS+ program.

The successful candidate should be highly motivated and independent, and must have obtained a degree equivalent to a M.Sc. in biology, ecology, or related field by September 2024. All applicants should have good written and oral English skills, possess a willingness to conduct field and laboratory work, and ideally have a background in ecology, evolutionary biology, microbiology, multivariate statistics, and/or bioinformatics. Prior experience with diatoms and/or metabarcoding is a plus.

How to apply:

Application deadline: Please apply before 13 March 2024.

Specific documents to be sent by e-mail to all:

Dr. Tyler Kohler (, in cc to Dr. Katerina Kopalová ( and Dr. Jan Kollár (

Please submit a single pdf file with a letter of interest (Two pages maximum describing previous experiences, current research interests, and other relevant information for the position, including previous work with diatoms, environmental microbiology, bioinformatics, statistics, culturing, fieldwork, etc), a CV including any publications, and contact information for 3 references.

For more detailed information about the project, please contact the project supervisor Dr. Tyler Kohler ( To find out more about the details regarding the application procedure, please use the following link: or contact Dr. Katerina Kopalová (

For more general information, please also see the call on the Charles University STARS website:

PhD project supervisor

Dr. Tyler Kohler