PhD student position in Molecular biology and bacterial genetics

Chalmers University of Technology


January 31, 2022


Are you interested in how microorganisms can be used to produce industrially relevant chemicals from abundant plant biomass? In this PhD project, we will study how different types of bacteria use enzymes and other proteins encoded by large gene clusters to deconstruct plant polysaccharides, and how they convert these nutrients into useful products. The bacteria we study are able to thrive in highly competitive environments, much thanks to their efficient carbohydrate utilization systems. The project will be performed together with experienced researchers from different universities and is a great opportunity for both developing collaborative skills and doing cutting-edge research.

Information about the project and the division The project is focused on studying new methods to engineer bacteria, primarily anaerobic species from the gut environment, to steer their abilities to deconstruct complex plant polysaccharides. We have developed these methods over the last years, and in this project, they will be used and optimized to both explore how broadly the methods can be used and which abilities we can give our chosen bacterial strains. In addition to engineering the range of nutrients accessible to the bacteria, also the products they can produce during growth have been investigated. Within the project, biochemical characterization of individual enzymes may also be an activity. The long-term goal of the project is to develop a bacterial bioprocess in which the carbohydrates found in waste biomass are converted into industrially relevant molecules that are today made from fossil sources.

The project will mainly focus on molecular biology and genetics but may also involve biochemistry and enzyme characterization. The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council Formas and includes collaboration with researchers from the University of Michigan, US.

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. The Department of Biology and Biological Engineering (BIO) includes three additional research divisions, and collaboration between these is encouraged.

Major responsibilities As a PhD student, you will be responsible for the daily management of your research project, including planning, performing experiments and critically analyzing your results. The work includes cloning, genetic modification of non-conventional bacteria, anaerobic cultivation, analysis of metabolites, and possibly also protein production and purification, enzyme kinetics and analysis of enzyme reaction products. You will be expected to communicate your results in different settings, from meetings with supervisors and collaborators, to presentations at the research division and at international conferences. Additionally, you will be expected to develop your scientific writing skills in articles for publication in scientific journals.

As a Chalmers PhD student, you will also be expected to teach on Chalmers' undergraduate level courses or performing other departmental duties corresponding up to 20 per cent of working hours, and attend courses both in subjects directly related to your research and in general "soft" skills such as project management, teaching, and writing. At the Division level, you will take part in the general maintenance of instruments and will have the opportunity to supervise MSc and BSc students.

Qualifications You must hold a Master of Science or at least 240 higher education credits in a relevant field (Molecular Biology, Microbial Genetics, Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Microbiology or similar). Basic microbiological/biochemical laboratory experience and fluency in verbal and written English are mandatory.

Demonstrated skills in molecular biology, genetics, protein production and purification, enzymology, microbiological cultivation techniques, and/or analytics are meritorious.

Contract terms Full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of five 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 20210615 and written in English. The application should be sent electronically and be attached as pdf-files, as below:

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name, Ref. number) • CV • Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust. • 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 experience of relevance for the position (e.g. education, thesis work and, if applicable, any other research activities) • Describe your future goals and future research focus

Other documents: • Copies of bachelor and/or master's thesis. • Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, e.g. TOEFL test results.

Please use the button at the foot of the page to reach the application form. The files may be compressed (zipped).

Application deadline: 31 January, 2022

For questions, please contact: Associate Professor, Johan Larsbrink, Industrial Biotechnology E-mail: Phone: +46 31 7723839

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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