Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Vacancy in the HELCOM Secretariat: Project Researcher on Biological Effects of Contaminants

The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) is an intergovernmental organization (Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden) with its headquarters (Secretariat) in Helsinki, Finland, working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea. At present, we are around 30 staff members at the HELCOM Secretariat, and our working language is English. We offer an open, friendly, dynamic and energetic, often fast-paced, international working environment offering all staff members the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to achieving our common goals. For more information about HELCOM, please visit our home page:

We are currently seeking to recruit an enthusiastic expert to strengthen our team as a Project Researcher in the field of hazardous substances, specifically on the Biological Effects of Contaminants (marine/aquatic/environmental contaminants).

Biological Effects of Contaminants project

The recent update of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP 2021) and preparatory work leading up to this have identified the need for a strengthening of work related to the Biological Effects of Contaminants in HELCOM (i.e. in the Baltic Sea marine environment). The main focus of this work is to make significant steps towards achieving action HL13 in the BSAP 2021: ‘By 2028 develop further relevant monitoring for the biological effects of hazardous substances in order to facilitate a reliable ecosystem health assessment’. To support the fulfilment of this regionally agreed action and take steps towards it this project will initially focus on reviewing existing methodologies and exploring possible harmonisation, developing and testing an integrated approach that can be applied across the region, and developing a series of relevant recommendations for future use or future development regionally in this field.

The work builds on previous processes within HELCOM, including the following:


The Project Researcher’s task is to review suitable Biological Effects of Contaminants methodologies, carry out the development and testing of an integrated assessment approach for the region, and develop recommendations on future work and harmonisation options with relevance to the Baltic Sea (HELCOM) region. The activities include:

  • Developing an initial proposal/work plan for the tasks to be carried out;
  • Taking guidance from the relevant regional Experts within the EGs and WGs;
  • Carrying out relevant review and preparatory steps, e.g., taking stock of current status quo in HELCOM, reviewing relevant methodologies and indicators available and evaluating current integrated assessment approaches;
  • Drafting a summary of available methodologies and their potential for application;
  • Further developing and applying an integrated assessment approach for the region;
  • Evaluating best options for harmonisation and future work in the form of recommendations;
  • Supporting other associated processes as considered needed by relevant Secretariat staff.

The tasks are expected to be carried out independently. However, the Project Researcher will cooperate with the HELCOM staff involved, who will provide comments and general guidance on the overall HELCOM framework. The HELCOM Expert Group on Hazardous Substances (EG HAZ), in particular the recently formed sub-team focussing on Biological Effects, will support and guide the work. EG HAZ is an international network of regional experts that works to enhance regional collaboration and serves as a platform for information exchange. The work carried out in the project will also be reviewed and guided by relevant HELCOM Working Groups (WGs). Relevant work may also enter the Third Holistic Assessment of the Baltic Sea report (see the 2018 version).

The Project Researcher is responsible for reporting and communicating of project work and outcomes to relevant HELCOM groups. In addition, the person may be requested to work in other processes and projects related to the same topics/field.

Qualifications and experience

The tasks require a background in the Biological Effects of Contaminants, including mixture and combined effects and statistical approaches for their identification. Expertise in a closely related field, such as marine biology, ecology, ecotoxicology, or environmental chemistry, will be beneficial. Documented expertise and knowledge related to the statistical evaluation of multiple drivers of physiological response in aquatic organisms, the impacts of contaminants in the marine/aquatic environment, and interdisciplinary work are also a significant benefit.

The successful candidate shall have:

  • University degree (minimum Master’s degree or equivalent) related to the Biological Effects of Contaminants or another related field;
  • Minimum of two years of relevant professional experience at the national or international level;
  • Familiarity and experience in several of the following:
    • Biological effects of environmental contaminants;
    • Physiological ecology;
    • Mixture and combined effects in aquatic environments;
    • Use of biomarkers and bioindicators of animal health;
    • Statistical and analytical approaches for analysis of biological effects;
    • Environmental/marine policy at the national or international level;
    • Interdisciplinary work in environmental sciences.
  • Excellent organizational and administrative skills and proven ability to deliver to tight timelines;
  • Ability to work independently, take responsibility and initiative;
  • Excellent social and team skills;
  • as well as high competence in IT skills;

Experience in the following work will be considered an asset:

  • Projects related to the marine environment/Baltic Sea;
  • Environmental chemistry, stress ecology, ecotoxicology or similar;
  • Multivariate statistical analysis of large data sets;
  • National or international management of environmental contaminants;
  • Experience of international cooperation;
  • Policy implementation experience.

Terms of appointment

The appointment is planned to be full time, starting in September or early October 2022 and for a duration of 18 months. The monthly salary is 2.800 € per month. Please note, that the HELCOM salaries are exempt from Finnish income tax.

How to apply?

Candidates with the required expertise and qualifications are invited to submit their application (consisting of a CV and a motivation letter) via e-mail to no later than 21 August 2022. Please write “Project Researcher HAZ Biological Effects” in the subject field of the message. Interviews are tentatively planned to take place at the Secretariat on 31 August 2022.