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At the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Section of Chemistry, a PhD Stipend is available within the general study programme of Biotechnology, Chemistry and Environmental Engineering. The position is open for appointment from August 1, 2021 or soon hereafter. The position is located within the Section of Biotechnology with working place in Aalborg.

Job description

The PhD position will focus on the biodegradation of polyolefins, as part of a H2020 EU project UPLIFT, studying the bio-upcycling of plastic waste from food and drinks packaging. The project involves 15 partners from all over Europe and will develop scalable bioprocesses for the recycling of mixed plastic waste and multilayers. We will integrate microbial/enzymatic depolymerization, together with bio-based building blocks, following a biorefinery approach. Through eco-design we will then develop new eco-polymers that are easier to recycle, thus contributing to a more sustainable plastic sector. The best technology will be tested at pilot scale, in order to reach a TRL 6 (https://upliftproject.eu/).

You will be applying mixed culture technology to develop both, open Microbial Mixed Cultures and Defined Mixed Consortia for the degradation of PE and PP. You will validate a new rapid (culture dependent) screening method and test synergies between different microbial organisms and enzymes, using co-substrate fermentation. Proteomics will be used to investigate the effect of multiple substrates. The metabolic process will be investigated through the use of C13-labelled substrates and modification of the plastic surface will be monitored through FTIR. Statistical optimization will be used to model and maximize the degradation process.

The project will be carried out in collaboration with a postdoc that works on protein engineering for polyester depolymerization and another PhD that will work on the development of new screening methods, exploiting the dark biological matter. The joint results and technologies will be applied to mixed plastic waste and newly designed eco-polymers. A further postdoc will be hired later in the project, to develop consolidated bioprocesses.

You are expected to have practical experience with microbial processes and analytical methods for the degradation of recalcitrant compounds. Experience on running bioreactors, as well as good skills in scientific dissemination of results are a plus.

The Department of Chemistry and Bioscience consists of five sections of which three are situated in Aalborg with research and teaching in Biotechnology, Applied Chemistry and Biology & Environmental Science. Moreover, one section is located in Copenhagen on Sustainable Biotechnology and one section is situated in Esbjerg on Chemical Engineering. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this project, you will be collaborating with the group of Professor Jeppe Lund Nielsen, and that of Associate Professor Cristiano Varrone.

You may obtain further information about the project from Associate Professor Cristiano Varrone by e-mail: cva@bio.aau.dk

Qualification requirements:

Applicants should hold an outstanding Master degree in Biotechnology, Bioprocess Engineering or in a relevant program.

Competences of the successful applicant may include:

  • Research experience in microbial processes and fermentation technoloy
  • Experience in analytical methods (HPLC, GC, UV, MS, etc.),
  • Complex problem solving skills and critical thinking
  • Ability to work in an international team
  • High motivation
  • Ability to conduct work in a structured and systematic manner and with a sufficient degree of independence
  • An integrative and cooperative personality with excellent communication and social skills
  • Fluency in English – written and oral

PhD stipends are allocated to individuals who hold a Master's degree. PhD stipends are normally for a period of 3 years. It is a prerequisite for allocation of the stipend that the candidate will be enrolled as a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Engineering and Science in accordance with the regulations of Ministerial Order No. 1039 of August 27, 2013 on the PhD Programme at the Universities and Certain Higher Artistic Educational Institutions. According to the Ministerial Order, the progress of the PhD student shall be assessed at regular points in time.

Shortlisting will be applied. This means that subsequent to the deadline for applications the head of department supported by the chair of the assessment committee will select candidates for assessment. All applicants will be informed whether they will be assessed or not.

For further information about stipends and salary as well as practical issues concerning the application procedure contact Ms. Vigdis Skomager-Bohnfeldt, The Faculty of Engineering and Science, email: vkns@adm.aau.dk,  phone: +45 9940 7408.

For more information of The Doctoral School of Engineering and Science: www.phd.engineering.aau.dk 

The application is only to be submitted online by using the "Apply online" button below.

AAU wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background or belief.


Appointment and salary as a PhD fellow are according to the Ministry of Finance Circular of 28 June 2019 on the Collective Agreement for Academics in Denmark, Appendix 5, regarding PhD fellows, and with the current Circular of 11 December 2019 on the employment structure at Danish universities.

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