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Admission for Doctoral Schools 2019/2020

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Biological Sciences - Dr. FOREST - Diversity of FORESTs affecting human health

Code 3-SzD-NSP-NBiol-Forest
Organizational unit Doctoral School of Exact and Natural Sciences
Academic area/discipline Biological Sciences
Form of studies Full-time
Language(s) of instruction English, Polish
Admission limit 1
Duration 4 years
Office opening hours ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 1
00-047 Warszawa
tel: 22 55 20 278
poniedziałek-piątek 10:00-14:00
WWW address
Required documents
  • Higher education
  Ask about this programme
There is currently no active phase for this programme.

Past phases in this registration:
  • Phase 1 (13.12.2019 00:01 – 07.01.2020 23:59)

Project description

Forest ecosystems are an important reservoir for biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes within Central Europe, and deliver many ecosystem services. They are also a popular location for recreational activities, especially near urban areas. However, forests can also harbour threats and diseases, e.g. ticks that transmit pathogens to humans. Thus, we need to quantify the impacts of biodiversity on multiple human health risks and benefits to combine biodiversity conservation with ecosystem management that supports various health cobenefits.

To elucidate the effects that biodiversity may have for human health, additional research is needed that moves beyond single case studies with loosely defined “biodiversity” aspects to well-designed studies that allow for generalisations and evidence-based recommendations for promoting health co-benefits derived from ecosystems. Central to addressing these critical challenges are the questions of how does biodiversity matter for human health and well-being, and what interventions or polices are required to promote contact with biodiverse environments for human health and well-being. Dr. FOREST will provide mechanistic understanding on the relationship between forest biodiversity and human health and will translate these insights into solutions for management and policy. 

The project makes use of existing research infrastructures for functional biodiversity studies and relies on a rigorous experimental design that allows quantification of tree diversity effects on human health. The empirical work will be done in controlled tree diversity experiments as well as in natural forests of differing diversity adopting a comparative design, located in Belgium, Germany and Poland.

Dr. FOREST will test the general hypothesis, that forest biodiversity supports mental and physical health and well-being. Our team is going to concentrate on interaction between forest tree biodiversity and quantity and quality of forest non-wood products influencing human health and wellbeing, i.e. mushrooms and medicinal herb plants.

We are going to test the following detailed hypotheses:

(1) Species richness of medicinal plants increases with increasing tree diversity, due to increased microhabitat diversity but their yield (cover) will decrease due to competition with other species.

(2) Species richness and yield of mycorrhizal mushrooms increases with increasing tree species richness, due to increased number of potential mycorrhizal partners.

(3) Amounts of biologically active substances in understorey plants are higher under monoculture canopies of specific tree species that create more stressful conditions (e.g. through resource competition).

We will survey the understorey vegetation, and collect medicinal plants for chemical analyses of active substances content. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of these substances will be studied using human neutrophils and monocytes/macrophages. We will also estimate plant fruit yield, diversity of fungi (via barcoding of soil samples) and yield of edible mushroom species three times per season during two growing seasons. The nutritional value of forest fruits and mushrooms will be used to measure level of non-wood product delivery by forests of different species composition. It will allow checking, if stand species composition influences nutritional value of these products. 

PhDs obligations:

The PhD student will carry field measurements and field sampling for lab analyses. She/he will carry lab work (TLC, HPLC-DAD-MS/MS analysis of active substances and biological activity of active substances in plant samples + nutritional value of plant fruits and mushroom samples) and statistical analyses of gathered data. PhD student will write publications from the project as a leading author. 

Successfull candidate should:

  • hold a MSc title (or equivalent) in biological, biotechnological, farmacological or related sciences;
  • have experience in lab work (priority given to biochemical analyses), including use of the lab equipment;
  • have experience in field work (priority given to forest ecosystems);
  • know at least basic species of the European forest flora and/or funga;
  • speak English at the level allowing to carry independent field work in European countries and writing scientific papers;
  • be mobile (main work place is in Białowieża and Warsaw (Poland), field work will be carried in Poland, Germany and Belgium) and be in physical condition allowing work in not easy accessible forests;
  • priority will be given to candidates with at least basic knowledge of edible mushrooms.


Recruitment scedule:

  • registration in the IRK recruitment system of the University of Warsaw: from 13 December 2019 till 7 January 2020
  • submission of documents: from 13 December 2019 till 7 January 2020, 14:00 o’clock of the Warsaw time;
  • recruitment: till 17 January 2020
  • announcement of the ranking of the candidates:  till 24 January 2020
  • decission on recruitment of the successful candidate: before 31 January 2020 

Recruitment fee

150 PLN 

Qualification procedure:

  • assessment of completeness and formal compliance of documents,
  • assessment of qualifications and experience necessary to participate in the project as a doctoral student,
  • interview.

Language of the recruitment process:

Polish or English, according to the preferences of the candidate. If Polish language is chosen, then still part of the interview will be carried in English. 

Documents needed for submisssion:

  1. the application generated in IRK, stating the subject-matter of the application, including the chosen discipline in which the candidate plans to pursue education, PESEL [Personal Identification Number] or passport number, nationality, contact details (address, e-mail address, telephone number), information whether the candidate gives their consent to receive administrative decisions by electronic means and signature;
  2. a diploma of completion of the long-cycle Master’s degree programme or second-cycle programme or an equivalent diploma obtained under separate regulations;
  3. transcript of records, a resumé or curriculum vitae containing information about the candidate’s scientific interests and scientific activity from 1 October 2014 onwards, subject to § 18 section 7, in particular publications, research work in scientific associations, participation in scientific conferences, participation in research projects, awards, distinctions, research internships;
  4. contact to 1-2 researchers who can provide references
  5. documents confirming the command of foreign language or a declaration about the command of English to the extent enabling the education in the Doctoral School;
  6.  documents or a statement about the required experiences referred to in the "Terms and Conditions for the candidate";
  7. a declaration of the planned supervisor about their willingness to be the candidate’s supervisor if the candidate is entered on the list of doctoral students and about the number of doctoral students for whom they are the designated supervisor;
  8. one photograph;
  9. consent to the processing of personal data for the purposes of the selection procedure.

Scans of the documents referred to in points 1-9, and materials confirming the own scientific activity indicated in the CV (e.g. at least the title page confirming the authorship of the publication), as well as a photo of the candidate shall be placed in the IRK system by 7 January 2020 until 11:59 PM.

The original documents from points 1, 2,7 and 9 are submitted to the Secretariat of the Doctoral School of Exact and Natural Sciences ( Żwirki i Wigury 93 room 3061 – III floor) by 7th January 2020 by 2 PM. 

Criteria of evaluation:

  • scientific achievements of the candidate, including publications in renowned scientific journals (50% of the final grade): 

4 points               outstanding;

3 points               very good;

2 points               good;

1 points               poor;

0 points               lack of scientific achievements. 

  • achievements resulted from carrying scientific research, , scholarships, awards and scientific experience gained in the country or abroad, workshops and scientific training, participation in research projects (20% of the final grade): 

4 points               outstanding (e.g. scholarships, internships in leading foreign centers, prestigious international awards or distinctions, workshops or trainings in leading research centers, participation in international or foreign projects);

3 points               significant (scholarships, internships in good national and foreign centers, national awards or prizes, foreign or national workshops or trainings, participation in national or foreign projects);

2 points               moderate (local awards or prizes, workshops or trainings, participation in university projects);

1 point                 poor achievements;

0 points               lack of achievements. 

  • competence to carry out specific tasks in the research project (30% of the final grade):

3 points               very good;

2 points               good;

1 point                 poor;

0 points               lack of competences.

Educational program

The training lasts 4 years. It includes obligatory classes (not more than 240 hours in total throughout the entire period of education) and the implementation of an individual research program, carried out under the guidance of a supervisor. Start of education – the 17th of February 2020.
The preparation of a doctoral dissertation under the program may not take longer than 4 years.


The scholarship for the first 36 months is PLN 4,500 gross