11 PhD positions open in the field of Biocatalysis, Synthetic Biology or Process Engineering

ConCO2rde is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Innovative Training Network (EJD) that brings together a diverse team of chemists, synthetic biologists, enzyme technologists and process engineers. The main objective of this team is to train 11 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) in different research disciplines that together allow the conversion of CO2 by smart autotrophic biorefineries.

The ConCO2rde EJD will train 11 ESRs in cutting edge research projects on

(i) the combination of synthetic biology approaches with metabolic and process engineering to create an efficient route from CO2 fixation to the production of chemicals,

(ii) H2/CO2/O2-based fermentation and process intensification in order to optimize commercially relevant processes together with industry,

(iii) defining a road-map for the industrial implementation of autotrophic biotransformations.

The ConCO2rde consortium consists of one translational institute, six universities, nine industrial partners and one cluster, providing the ideal environment to foster complementary expertise in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, biocatalysis, process engineering and analytics. As a double degree program, the EJD allows 11 ESRs to explore two of these disciplines in-depth and collaborate with scientists from the other fields, which would be very difficult to realize otherwise. ConCO2rde thus provides a critical mass and a carefully selected consortium for a successful innovative implementation of processes utilizing H2 as energy-source for (bio)catalytic reactions, and CO2as exclusive carbon source, which will stimulate progress on the way to improve sustainability implementing ‘Green Chemistry’ in the chemical industry, a key sector in Europe.

This pioneering EJD program will train the first generation of scientists in autotrophic biotransformations with skills in synthetic biology, enzyme catalysis and process engineering to address the development of most advanced gas-driven whole-cell reactions for chemical manufacturing at large scales.


  • Holding an outstanding M.Sc. degree in Synthetic Biology, Biological chemistry, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Biochemical Engineering or related fields
  • Ability to work in an international team,
  • Inter- and multidisciplinary thinking,
  • High motivation,
  • An integrative and cooperative personality with excellent communication and social skills,
  • Fluency in English – written and oral.

Eligibility Criteria

The following eligibility rules apply for participation in a Marie Skłodowska Curie Innovative Training Network:

  • ​ESRs must not have resided in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date (and not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in that country) — unless as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention 1.
  • ESRs must be at the date of recruitment an ‘early stage researcher’ (i.e. in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of his or her research career)
  • ESRs must not have a doctoral degree

Open Positions

ESR1: Synthetic biology to streamline the metabolism of C. necator toward the production of rare amino acids and proteins (WP1)

ESR2: Metabolic strategies for the synthesis of isotope-labeled amino acids in C. necator (WP1)

ESR3: Metabolic Engineering of C. necator to exploid lipid de novosynthesis for OH-fattyacid ester production (WP1)

ESR4: Transport engineering in C. necator (WP1)

ESR5: H2-driven production of substituted piperidines in C. necator(WP2)

ESR6: Engineering of C. necator for H2-driven production of functionalized piperazines (WP2)

ESR7: Electrophotoautotrophic production of N-heterocycles by an enzymatic cascade in Rhodopseudomonas palustris (WP2)

ESR8: Impacts of high pressure for efficient biomolecules production from CO2: from reactor design to microbial physiology (WP3)

ESR9: Impact of gas delivering membrane systems on the production of biomolecules from CO2: from reactor design to microbial physiology (WP3)

ESR10: Dynamic analysis of subpopulation distributions of engineered C. necator for biomolecules production from CO2: determination of the strain robustness under the constraints of gas fermentation (WP3)

ESR11: Gas fermentation to match microbial requirements and technological feasibilities (WP3)

Please do not apply for more than three positions, a motivation letter has to be written for each position separately.

Deadline: 31-01-2021

Selection Process

Based upon application input a selection of eligible candidates will be invited to a first round of online interviews with the primary supervisors of the envisaged ESR positions. Highest ranked candidates will be invited for an online recruitment event in spring 2021 where the thesis boards for each ESR position under contribution of the gender committee will decide on final job offers. 

Secondments, Trainings, Responsibilities

The main part of the PhD research will be carried out at the hiring institution. An academic secondment (6 to 12 months depending on the project) will be spent at the double degree awarding host institution. Additionally, some Early Stage Researchers will spent additional secondments of 3-4 months at an industrial partner organisation.

The date of recruitment and start of the PhD project is planned for May 2021 and latest on December 2021. Your PhD degree will be awarded based on successful completion of the research work from two universities with two PhD certificates (double-degree). You will also be required to participate in the training events and workshops organized by the ITN-European Joint Doctorates (EJD) program. As a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellow, you are also expected to contribute your time in the dissemination of your PhD project’s result through public engagement and other scientific platforms.

Employment Conditions

We offer temporary work contracts (3-4 years) for PhD candidates at the hiring institutions for full time positions with salaries according to the Marie Curie-Sklodowska innovative training network regulations.

Application Procedure

Please prepare

  • A letter of motivation including a statement of your research interests, relevant skills and experience;
  • A CV including publication list;
  • Names and contact details of three referees willing to write confidential letters of recommendation;