1-2 postdoc positions in enzyme discovery and utilization

Chalmers University of Technology


October 9, 2022


We are looking for up to two motivated postdoctoral researchers interested in discovering and characterizing enzymes that act on complex biomass. Plant biomass represents the greatest source of renewable carbon on the planet, and improved methods to use this material for fuels, chemicals and materials are needed to reduce the need for fossil resources. The plant cell walls, the main component of the biomass, are however highly resistant to biological and chemical deconstruction, which makes advanced biomass utilization difficult and expensive. Here, we will focus on novel enzymes able to target structures in the biomass important for its recalcitrance.

Information about the research In ongoing projects at the research division, we focus on enzyme discovery and characterization, and these efforts involve close collaboration with international partners. We aim to improve sustainable use of biomass resources, by identifying and developing microorganisms and enzymes that will be the main catalysts in valorization of abundant and underutilized agroindustrial and forestry streams.

Three current projects are of relevance to the advertised position(s): 1. Conversion of bark and cassava residues by filamentous fungi. This is a collaboration with Food Industries Research Institute, Vietnam, who isolate novel strains and species with interesting properties such as thermophilicity. The research includes genomic sequencing of new species, and transcriptomics/proteomics to study the behavior of the fungi in various conditions. This is followed by identification of enzyme targets, heterologous production and characterization. The project also involves chemical and structural characterization of the biomass itself. 2. Within the framework of the Wallenberg Wood Science Center (www. wwsc.se), we investigate the enzymatic release of valuable fatty acids from bark (suberin). Enzyme diversity and detailed characterization of the enzymes' action in biomass-derived streams are in focus. 3. Enzymatic cleavage of lignin-carbohydrate bonds. These bonds increase the recalcitrance of biomass by reinforcing the cell wall matrix. Only a few enzymes able to cleave these bonds have been studied, and here we are interested in deepening the knowledge on such enzymes, from both bacteria and fungi, as well as discovering new types of enzymes that could be highly relevant to improve plant cell wall deconstruction. Structure-function studies of the enzymes, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Copenhagen, will be an important part of the project.

All subprojects involve microbiology, cloning, heterologous protein production in bacterial and/or fungal hosts, protein purification, and detailed biochemical characterization of identified enzymes, such as enzyme kinetics and substrate specificity determination.

The (inter)national collaborative aspect of the work is a great opportunity for both developing project leading skills and doing cutting-edge research in both fundamental and applied settings. Project management and coordination between the collaborators will be an important activity in this postdoc position.

Information about the division The Division of Industrial Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary and highly international group of researchers established in 2008, currently composed of around 45 members. The research in the division revolves around microbiology and fermentation, enzymology, and molecular biology, with a general focus of using renewable raw materials for the sustainable production of fuels, chemicals and materials. A large variety of scientific instruments are available in our shared laboratory facilities, and in addition several core facilities are available at the university and its close vicinity.

Major responsibilities The majority of your working time will be devoted to your own research studies within one or more of the projects listed above. As a postdoc, you are expected to develop your own ideas, drive the project and communicate scientific results orally as well as in writing. In addition, the position will include supervision of students, instrument responsibility. You should take active part in the collaborative work with our (inter)national partners and contribute to the project coordination efforts.

Qualifications To qualify for the position of postdoc, you must hold a doctoral degree awarded no more than three years prior to the application deadline (according to the current agreement with the Swedish Agency for Government Employers) in biological engineering, biotechnology, biochemistry, microbiology or related fields.

Demonstrated experience in working with carbohydrate-active enzymes, analytical techniques for biomass characterization, collecting and analyzing large -omics datasets, and structural biology is meritorious. Demonstrated experience in project coordination and supervision will also be meritorious. You are expected to be somewhat accustomed to teaching, and to demonstrate good potential within research and education.

The position requires sound verbal and written communication skills in English. Swedish is not a requirement but Chalmers offers Swedish courses.

Contract terms This postdoc position is a full-time temporary employment for two years. We offer Chalmers offers a cultivating and inspiring working environment in the coastal city of Gothenburg. Read more about working at Chalmers and our benefits for employees.

Chalmers aims to actively improve our gender balance. We work broadly with equality projects, for example the GENIE Initiative on gender equality for excellence. Equality and diversity are substantial foundations in all activities at Chalmers.

Application procedure The application should be marked with Ref 20220454 and written in English. The application should be sent electronically and be attached as PDF-files, as below. Maximum size for each file is 40 MB. Please note that the system does not support Zip files.

CV: (Please name the document as: CV, Surname, Ref. number) including: • CV, include complete list of publications • Previous teaching and pedagogical experiences • Two references that we can contact.

Personal letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name, Ref. number) 1-3 pages where you: • Introduce yourself • Describe your previous research fields and main research results • Describe your future goals and future research focus

Other documents: • Attested copies of completed education, grades and other certificates.

Use the button at the foot of the page to reach the application form.

Application deadline: October 9, 2022

For questions, please contact: Professor Lisbeth Olsson, Industrial Biotechnology Email: lisbeth.olsson@chalmers.se

Associate Professor Johan Larsbrink, Industrial Biotechnology Email: johan.larsbrink@chalmers.se

Chalmers declines to consider all offers of further announcement publishing or other types of support for the recruiting process in connection with this position.

Chalmers University of Technology conducts research and education in engineering sciences, architecture, technology-related mathematical sciences, natural and nautical sciences, working in close collaboration with industry and society. The strategy for scientific excellence focuses on our six Areas of Advance; Energy, Health Engineering, Information and Communication Technology, Materials Science, Production and Transport. The aim is to make an active contribution to a sustainable future using the basic sciences as a foundation and innovation and entrepreneurship as the central driving forces. Chalmers has around 11,000 students and 3,000 employees. New knowledge and improved technology have characterised Chalmers since its foundation in 1829, completely in accordance with the will of William Chalmers and his motto: Avancez!

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