Södertörn University has converted to distance education – no teaching on university premises from Wednesday 18 March

The Swedish Government recommends that after 18 March all higher education institutions move to distance education. Södertörn University has followed this recommendation and there will be no teaching on university premises until further notice. This is likely to apply throughout the spring semester. All written examinations will be replaced by other forms of examination for the entire spring semester. Students are asked to stay updated about their course or programme via SH-StudyWeb. Staff and students can access the university premises with their keycards and both Infocenter and the library are open.




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Sara Sjöling

Associate Professor

Senior Lecturer

Associate Professor and senior lecturer in Microbial Ecology, Chair of Research Education in Environmental Studies

+46 8 608 47 67 +4686084767

Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies


I am associate professor, docent, in microbial ecology and the Director of Doctoral studies in Environmental Science. I am also the research leader of the microbial ecology group.

As a microbial ecologist my research concerns ecological questions related to ecosystem functions and interactions of microbial communities with other communities and the environment. The research addresses the interaction of, or response to, environmental change and ecosystem functions and processes, their response and adaptation, particularly during eutrophication, hypoxia, pollution and climatic variation.

Our main ecological systems include marine sediments and waters, both coastal and deep water, in the Baltic Sea (BaltResponse project funded by Östersjöstiftelsen) (Completed Project Anammox), and recently in comparison with Arctic and Antarctic systems within a large scale international and collaborative community sequencing project (CSPexternal link) funded by the U.S. Dept of Energy Joint Genome Institute and linked to the Earth Microbiome Project. Some of the tools thus include environmental genomics with functional metagenomics and metaranscriptomics analysis.

The vast diversity of environmental bacteria and their functional capacities also provide a unique alternative source for the discovery of novel compounds for environmentally sustainable biocontrol compounds, including enzymes useful in agriculture, medicine or waste treatment. Through the application of functional and activity based metagenomics we have in collaboration developed a platform for the identification and production novel enzymes, within the EU project, the Metaexplore consortium (http://www.rug.nl/research/metaexplore/),
one of the larger projects funded within EU agriculture and biotechnology. Outcomes from this project aim to meet the demand of biocontrol applications, e.g., the chitinolytic control of crop pathogens.

I have an interest in interdisciplinary research combining ecological with social studies. With twenty years of experience of collaboration in Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa, through Sida funded projects, the collaborative interdisciplinary projects have focused on using different lenses to study the rise and fall of community based natural resource management and also eco-sociological links and the environmental reservoir, e.g. cholera outbreak and control (http://www.wiomsa.org).

As a Wenner Gren Fellow I transferred from Stockholm University to the University College of London in the UK and then to Södertörn University more than fifteen years ago. Since then I have shared my time between research and teaching at undergraduate and graduate programs, mainly in environmental and developmental studies, with several assignments including member of the University board at Södertörns högskola. Purdue University in the US, the Western Cape University in South Africa, University of Dar es Salaam and Technische Universität in Munich are other places where I have had the privilege to spend research time via collaborations.

For information in Swedish about our research on Baltic Sea microbial communities and ecosystem functions see this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIvLTcSh7KMexternal link) or this interview articleexternal link http://www.e-pages.dk/kemivardenbiotech/35/.

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