PhD Position in Prebiotic Chemistry Routes on Rocky Exoplanets at University of Amsterdam

Applicants are invited to apply for a PhD position in analytical chemistry at University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The funding allows successful candidate to work for 4 years. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2020.

How universal are life's building blocks? Organic molecules have been detected on rocky bodies, meteorites, and in the interstellar medium. Prebiotic molecules from exogenous or planetary source could both constitute monomers that may lead to biopolymers and eventually life. Prebiotic polymerisation processes could very well play a key role in the selection of certain building blocks over others with a high dependence on planetary conditions. We aim to investigate the selectivity that polymerization of (extraterrestrial) monomeric building blocks of life can introduce and the role of the environment on this selectivity. We want to examine polymerisation routes at the interface of atmosphere and mineral surfaces with and without water in conditions relevant for Early-Earth, Mars, and Titan. We will focus on branching effects of polymerisation using key differences between monomers from exogenous and in-situ sources. We will examine the control of the environment on these branching effects, focussing on the structural properties of minerals and the oxidation capacity of the atmosphere. This project is part of the NWO Planetary and Exoplanetary Science (PEPSci) programme and ventures on the boundary of astrochemistry and geosciences.

As this is a joint project, you will be a member of two dynamic and interdisciplinary research groups located at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Utrecht University (UU). You will also join the NWO PEPSci network together with the PhD students from other projects within the network. You will perform experiments at both UvA and UU, which will include laboratory polymerisation experiments and characterisation of minerals. You will also further develop the laboratory setup to include varying conditions and non-invasive sampling. You will analyse and interpret the results. You will report your results in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences and you will be part of a stimulating and challenging environment.

Affinity with fundamental, interdisciplinary research is helpful. A temporary contract for 38 hours per week starting on 1 September 2020 for the duration of 4 years (initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master (master scholarships) students.

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be 2,325 to 2,972 (scale P) gross per month, based on a full-time contract (38 hours a week), exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the '30% ruling', may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Then find out more about working at the Faculty of Science.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 6,500, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Van’t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Sustainable Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 30 June 2020. You may apply online by using the link below.

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