PhD position in Physical Chemistry and Biocatalysis

torsdag 23 jul 20

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Frist 31. august 2020
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A 3-year PhD scholarship within the area of Physical Chemistry and Biocatalysis is available at Department of Chemistry, Technical University of Denmark. The project combines theoretical expertise from physical chemistry and practical work and will be a joint effort between the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at DTU. You can read more about the Department of Chemistry on and the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering on

The position will be available from 1 October 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Responsibilities and Tasks
The ability of enzymes to work in non-aqueous media is now widely accepted and utilized in many biotechnological applications. The challenge is to overcome the poor intrinsic enzyme activity in such dehydrated media. We previously found an intriguing linear correlation between the logarithm of the experimentally determined specificity constant and the calculated binding free energies of substrate / solvent molecules (DcalcGsub/sol) in different organic media. We also observed that “hot spot” regions on the protein surface where residual water molecules bind determine the initial rate of esterification. The studies provided a preliminary mechanistic idea. The current PhD project focuses on i) extending the range of organic solvents previously studied in order to validate the previously observed linear correlation of experimentally determined specificity constant with DcalcGsub/sol across a range of water activities and ii) determining the interplay of enzymes’ physicochemical surface properties and lipases’ specific constant. We will use an interdisciplinary approach that combines enzyme kinetic characterization, attenuated-total-reflection (ATR) IR spectroscopy and computer simulations to obtain a molecular understanding of the interplay between physicochemical surface properties and catalytic efficiency.

Applicants should hold a Master of Science degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biotechnology or an equivalent background that provides a strong basis of computational techniques and analytical/practical skills that include protein purification and spectroscopy.

In addition, the candidate should have:

  • a strong interest in working in a cross-disciplinary environment and very good collaboration skills.
  • strong communication skills and a strong academic record is an advantage.
  • fluent communication skills in written and spoken English are essential.

The applicant should strive towards scientific excellence, be ambitious and hard working. Only applicants with great talent, which seeks to be among the brightest in their field, will be considered.

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 the DTU PhD Guide.

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.

ou can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Günther H.J. Peters, e-mail:   or Professor John M. Woodley, e-mail: or Associate Professor René Wugt Larsen, e-mail:

Please submit your online application no later than 31 August 2020 (local time)
Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A personnel statement (up to 2 pages) about the applicants’ experience, interests and career goals
  • Curriculum vitae (including a list of publications, if any)
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet herein the right hand column)
  • Contact details for at least two academic referees

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

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

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

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 11,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.