PhD scholarship in High throughput recombinant production and biophysical characterization of plant proteins

Monday 13 Jun 22

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Apply no later than 31 July 2022
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The research group of Prof. Alexander K. Buell at the department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Bioengineering) is looking to recruit a PhD student, to start as soon as possible. Our research group is situated within the section of Protein Chemistry and Enzyme Technology, where world-leading expertise in protein chemistry and structural biology is concentrated. Our laboratory performs cutting-edge experimental research in the field of protein and peptide interactions, self-assembly and aggregation. The applied methods include protein engineering as well as various spectroscopy, scattering, biosensing and microfluidics methods.

Research project
A research opportunity for a PhD student is now available in the ‘SEEDFOOD: Functional and palatable plant seed storage proteins for sustainable foods’ project funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The primary partners in SEEDFOOD are University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and University of Le Mans in France (ULM). The project principal investigator is Professor Marianne Nissen Lund, Department of Food Science, UCPH. SEEDFOOD will serve as multi-disciplinary centre in which you as young scientist will benefit from training and joint supervision by the group of principal investigators. We offer, and expect, some mobility between labs and partners. You will be part of an international dynamic research environment founded on knowledge sharing, high scientific ambitions and cross-disciplinary synergy. We focus on active career development of junior researchers, and offer coaching/mentoring activities across the centre.

The vision of SEEDFOOD is to accelerate the transition from animal- to plant-based food proteins for sustainable food production and consumption. We will achieve this by tailoring plant protein ingredients with superior functional, palatable, and nutritional properties through novel protein design and in-depth understanding of molecular interactions in the food matrix. We will use rapeseed protein to obtain new insights underpinning the scientific foundation to promote the use of seed storage proteins for foods. Rapeseed is a protein-rich crop used for industrial oil production. It is farmed on a large scale in Europe and may be utilized in new food types locally across the globe. In SEEDFOOD we will create knowledge to sustainably transform poor functionality of plant seed storage proteins and rationally tailor protein performance for future food design. Scientific themes in SEEDFOOD encompass: gentle and sustainable processing to isolate seed proteins; improvement of protein surface characteristics through enzyme and UV-light treatments; biophysics of protein structures and molecular interactions; functionality and palatability in model foods.

Responsibilities and qualifications
We are seeking a PhD student for a position in biophysical characterisation of isoforms and mutant proteins of rapeseed cruciferin and napin at high throughput (HTP). The aims of the project are the establishment of a HTP workflow that will allow to produce up to hundreds of sequence variants of rapeseed storage proteins cruciferin and napin recombinantly and purify them. This is followed by an in-depth characterization of the key biophysical properties, such as protein stability, aggregation and interactions with other relevant molecules. Depending on the interests and skills of the candidate, the project can also contain elements of structural (crystallography) and computational (MD simulations) biology.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an

academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree in experimental Biology, Biochemistry,

Biophysics, Biotechnology or related fields.

  • Excellent English communication skills.
  • Good interpersonal skills and interest in working in a team of multiple partners.

Key selection criteria

  • Professional qualifications relevant for the position.
  • Relevant work experience during internships or BSc/MSc thesis.
  • Academic references
  • Prior publications are a bonus, but not a requirement, at the level of PhD student.
  • Language skills.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see DTU's rules for the PhD education.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Prof. Alexander K. Buell, tel.: +45 4525 4061, email: alebu@dtu.dk or can be found on the group’s website, https://buelllab.org

More information about the SEEDFOOD project can be found here: https://food.ku.dk/english/research_at_food/research-projects/2022/seedfood-functional-and-palatable-plant-seed-storage-proteins-for-sustainable-foods/

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark. Furthermore, you have the option of joining our monthly free seminar “PhD relocation to Denmark and startup “Zoom” seminar” for all questions regarding the practical matters of moving to Denmark and working as a PhD at DTU.

Application procedure
Please submit your online application no later than 31 July 2022 (Danish time).

To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form. The following must be attached in English:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter, stating explicitly why the candidate applies for this position and why she/he is particularly suited for this position)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma (in English) including official description of grading scale
  • List of publications, if any
  • Contact details of two academic contacts who are prepared to provide a professional reference for the candidate.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, disability, race, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (DTU Bioengineering) is an international leader in the areas of biotechnology and biomedicine. Our engineering approach to all aspects of biotechnology and biomedicine positions us as a valuable player with unique competences in a growing bio-based economy and with health systems transforming towards personalized medicine. We have a clear focus on the needs in the life science industry and point towards innovation, new businesses, and scientific services for the benefit of society. The department has extensive collaborations with national and international research units and industry. DTU Bioengineering has approx. 400 employees, of which 2/3 are scientific staff. The department is located at DTU Lyngby Campus.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 13,400 students and 5,800 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.