PhD Scholarship in Microbial Electrochemical Conversion of Syngas

A fully-funded PhD fellowship in molecular biology is available at Chalmers University of Technology. This position is available for four years. Potential candidates should apply before January 31, 2019.

The Department of Biology and Biological Engineering was founded January 1 2015, and started off with high ambitions. The aim was to grow and become a leading center of innovation by combining the latest research in life sciences with biochemistry. And the department got off to flying start. In its first year, the numbers for publication, citation and external funding have been excellent.

The department consists of four divisions, each conducting outstanding research in the areas of industrial biotechnology, systems biology, chemical biology and food science. The overall goal is to help build a sustainable society and improve human health. Nearly 200 people from 20 countries are currently working at the department. The working environment is characterized by respect, cooperation, responsibility, creativity and job satisfaction. The Department of Biology and Biological Engineering has summarized its mission in four points: - To be an attractive environment for top-level researchers in biological engineering - To deliver top-level research results and innovative solutions for use in a sustainable society - To offer excellent education that develops creative engineers and scientists - To be a major contributor to international visibility of Chalmers Information about the division

The PhD position is placed at the Division of Industrial Biotechnology within the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology. The Industrial Biotechnology group is a young, dynamic and international group of researchers established in 2008 and counts now around 40 members. The common denominator of the research activities in the group is to optimize the use of renewable raw materials for the sustainable production of fuels, chemicals and materials within the main concept of biorefinery.

The research performed within the group spans from fundamental research, technology development and lab-scale application: this ensures deep knowledge of the studied systems, leading to rational development and optimization of the respective applications. The research fields include production of biofuels and chemicals via fermentation and enzymatic refining of biomass, bioelectrochemical systems and algal biotechnology. The division has an extensive instrument platform for analytics, molecular biology, protein production and purification, fermentation, including anaerobic systems, which are all available for the project. In addition, core facilities with advanced equipment are available within both the Department and at the University campus.

The project

The focus of the PhD student will be to study the production of ethanol by syngas fermenting bacteria, termed acetogens. Syngas is a mixture consisting primarily of CO, CO2, and H2 that is produced through gasification of many carbon-containing materials (e.g.: biomass, municipal waste and heavy industrial processes).

The aim of the project is to understand how the fermentation of syngas affect acetogenic bacteria. This knowledge will be used to engineer more efficient and robust acetogenic strains. Acetogens benefit from utilizing inorganic carbon derived from syngas, and thus can fully exploit the carbon in the raw material, but many scientific challenges persist. Here, we focus on understanding the physiological and transcriptional effects on acetogens, caused by syngas and the inhibitors therein or by electrofermentation. Syngas electrofermentations, i.e. supplementing syngas fermentations with redox power in the form of electrical energy, is expected to enhance biofuel production rates and yields, as addition of external redox power has been shown to be an effective means to strengthen microbial tolerance and increase alcohol yields and production rates. We will improve syngas fermentation and stress tolerance of acetogens through genetic and evolutionary engineering.

The project is funded by The Swedish Energy Agency.

Major responsibilities

The main task of the PhD student will be to study acetogens during conversion of carbon-rich gases into ethanol. To aim is to develop a thorough understanding of the physiological and transcriptional effects on bacteria, caused by syngas and inhibitors therein or by electrofermentation.

As a PhD student you will be expected to carry out independent research in line with the project described above, including laboratory work, and manuscript writing. You will be expected to share knowledge with MSc students and other colleagues and collaboration partners.

- take part in group responsibilities such as group meetings, literature presentations and floor duty

- take PhD student courses (60 ETCS is mandatory to obtain a PhD)

- present research at scientific meetings.

- take part in teaching activities such as course lab duty.

Full-time temporary employment, starting 1.4.2019 or according to agreement.The position is limited to four years.


The candidate must hold a MSc degree in Biotechnology/Bioengineering, Synthetic, Systems or Molecular Biology, Microbiology or other related disciplines. The successful candidate has knowledge on molecular biology and some lab practice as well as some knowledge in bioinformatics. Previous experience in working with RNA-sequencing data analysis, anaerobic bacteria or bioelectrochemistry is a strong merit.

Most importantly, the candidate is self-motivated, enthusiastic and creative. To be successful in this position, you need to be well-organized and able to drive and conclude projects independently, take own initiatives, discuss/develop own ideas and enjoy solving problems. The project is in collaboration with other researchers and thus excellent cooperation and social abilities are highly important. Good communication skills in English are required.

Chalmers offers a cultivating and inspiring working environment in the dynamic city ofGothenburg.

Read more aboutworking at Chalmersand ourbenefitsfor employees.

Application procedure

The application should be marked with Ref 20180727 and written in English.

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name, Ref. number)


Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust.

Two references that we can contact.

Personal letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name, Ref. number)

1-3 pages where you introduce yourself and present your qualifications.

Previous research fields and main research results.

Future goals and research focus.Are there any specific projects and research issues you are primarily interested in?

Copies of bachelor and/or master's thesis.

Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, eg. TOEFL test results.

Application deadline: 31 January 2019.

Assistant professor Yvonne Nygrd, Dept. of Biology and Biological Engineering – Industrial Biotechnology,


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