18/04/2019

PhD Position in Chemistry and Biotechnology

This job offer has expired


  • ORGANISATION/COMPANY
    Tallinn University of Technology
  • RESEARCH FIELD
    ChemistryBiochemistry
    ChemistryOther
  • RESEARCHER PROFILE
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE
    31/05/2019 17:00 - Europe/Athens
  • LOCATION
    Estonia › Tallinn
  • TYPE OF CONTRACT
    Temporary
  • JOB STATUS
    Full-time
  • HOURS PER WEEK
    40

We offer 4-year PhD position in Characterization of Soil Bacterial Enzymes for the use in the Process of Lignin Valorization and Biomass Conversion.
Supervisor: Dr. Tiit Lukk

Background
Lignin is the second most abundant biopolymer on earth. While lignin provides biomass with structural rigidity, due to its  chemically recalcitrant nature, it also offers plant a layer of protection against a number of natural processes that would lead  to its degradation. The majority of plant biomass consist of cellulose, a polymer of β-1,4-conjugated D-glucose molecules (40-60% dry weight) but lignin content and structure in lignocellulose are highly variable, and differ from  species to species in its composition and in the dry mass range (15 - 30%). Due to the global trend of moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources, lignocellulose has gained much attention as a renewable resource for  the production of liquid fuels (bioethanol, biodiesel) but also as a resource from which to derive alternatives to petrochemicals (lignin).
When considering natural degraders of plant biomass, three groups of organisms are typically discussed: white rot fungi, brown rot fungi and certain groups of soil bacteria. Albeit white rot fungi are effective in completely mineralizing lignin to CO2, brown rot fungi and soildwelling actinobacteria do so at slower speed and effectiveness. However, from the standpoint  of industrial biochemistry, actinobacterial enzymes that are involved in lignin deconstruction (listed below)  are of particular interest due to much wider pH activity range and enhanced tolerance to elevated temperatures when  compared to their fungal counterparts.

What we offer
Lignin biochemistry laboratory at TalTech offers two positions for prospective PhD students to study the biochemistry and structural biology of lignin degrading enzymes from several actinobacterial strains, some of which are thermophilic  organisms. The laboratory is involved in two industrial collaborations. One of these is working toward deriving novel chemicals from woody biomass such as wood bark, that would otherwise be burned for thermal energy, thus  increasing the value of this commodity. Literature suggests that lignin, that has been extracted in the various processes in the paper pulping industry can be valorized from a mere 50 €/t with enzymatic processes to greater than 1500 €/t, adding some 30-fold value to the staring material.

Tasks
The doctoral work will focus on one or multiple of the following classes of enzymes:

  • laccases and laccase like copper oxidases,
  • dye-decolorizing peroxidases (DyP) and
  • aryl alcohol oxidases.

The PhD student will gain extensive experience in molecular cloning, mutagenesis, protein purification, enzyme kinetics, protein crystallography as well as multiple analytical tools required for the analysis of lignin and its degradation products. The lignin biochemistry laboratory at TalTech conducts interdisciplinary research, which sets up the graduate student for a successful career in industry or academia post-graduation.

Offer Requirements

  • REQUIRED EDUCATION LEVEL
    Chemistry: Master Degree or equivalent
    Other: Master Degree or equivalent
  • REQUIRED LANGUAGES
    ENGLISH: Good

Skills/Qualifications

A successful candidate must have a masters in science (MSc) degree in a field related to

  • molecular biology,
  • biochemistry or
  • chemistry.

Candidates with experience in molecular biology, protein purification and having familiarity with biophysical methods will be favored.

Specific Requirements

Application requirements

The following application documents are required (in English):

  • Motivation letter
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Copy of the required diploma (MA) or other document providing evidence of the necessary qualification

 

Work location(s)
2 position(s) available at
Tallinn University of Technology
Estonia
Tallinn
12618
Akadeemia tee 15

Open, Transparent, Merit based Recruitment procedures of Researchers (OTM-R)

Know more about it at Tallinn University of Technology

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EURAXESS offer ID: 401022

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