PhD Scholarship in Physical Chemistry in Biochemistry at Stockholm University

Applications are invited for a PhD position in analytical chemistry to join Stockholm University, Sweden. The funds for this fellowship are available for four years. The deadline for applying is April 23, 2020.

The Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry (MMK) is, with about 150 employees, one of the largest departments at the Faculty of Natural sciences at Stockholm University.

A significant part of the teaching activities is at the undergraduate level with courses in General, Physical, Inorganic, and Analytical Chemistry. The teaching at the graduate level focuses on the master programs in Materials and Analytical Chemistry.

Research activities of MMK focus primarily on materials, and include different classes such as ceramics, glasses, self-assembled, porous materials, and soft matter. The projects often encompass synthesis, and characterization by X-ray, neutron diffraction, electron microscopy, solid-state NMR, and computer modelling of materials with a potential for various applications.

Research activities in the area of Analytical Chemistry focus on developing advanced analytical techniques for studies of organic compounds and biomolecules.

Project description

Project title: New cryo-electron microscopy methods for revealing atomic structures of biomolecules.

Supervisor (PI): Professor Xiaodong Zou,

Knowing the 3D atomic structures is crucial for understanding the functions of macromolecules and chemical processes in biological systems. The information is also important for drug design. X-ray diffraction is presently the most important technique but requires large crystals.

Electron microscopy (EM) and electron diffraction (ED) can be used for studying nano and micron-sized particles/crystals. Single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has made important breakthroughs for structure determination of macromolecules (awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017).

Recently the method based on 3D electron diffraction (3DED), also known as MicroED, has shown to be powerful in determining atomic structures from nano- and microcrystals too small for other methods. It was identified as one of the 2018 ten breakthroughs by Science (

The group of Prof. Zou is internationally leading in developing and applying electron crystallographic methods for structure determination. Prof. Zou has recently received two large grants, a 10-year grant from the Swedish research Council (Distinguished Professor Grant) and a 5-year grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (Wallenberg Scholars), for developing new 3DED/MicroED methods to push the limits of current methods for structure determination of macromolecules.

The PhD project aims at developing and applying new 3DED/MicroED methods to obtain atomic structures of biomolecules and study their biological functions. The PhD student will use advanced cryo-electron microscopic techniques and optimize sample preparation, data collection and data analysis proceduces. The candidate will apply the new methods to determine 3D structures of new proteins and protein complexes, in order to understand their biological functions.

The student will be part of a large group and in close collaboration with researchers from academia and industry. She/he should have a strong collaborative and communication skill, be self-motivated and a good team player. The applicant should also have excellent skills in the English language, both written and spoken. Good knowledge on computers, programming, TEM, crystallography, or structural biology is an advantage. The candidate should have a Master or equivalent degree in Physics, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or Materials Sciences. For more information see Zou's homepage:, and

Qualification requirements

In order to meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 credits must be in the second cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere.

In order to meet the specific entry requirements, the general syllabus for doctoral studies in the field of Chemistry is valid. Those studies should include at least one specialized course or a thesis in the research subject. In order to facilitate the evaluation of merits and suitability for the PhD studies your curriculum vitae (CV) should contain information about the extent and focus of the academic studies. The quantity (as part of an academic year) and the quality mark of courses in chemistry and physics are of particular interest. Please, state titles of undergraduate theses and project works.

The qualification requirements must be met by the deadline for applications.


The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on their capacity to benefit from the training. The following criteria will be used to assess this capacity: the candidates' documented knowledge in a relevant field of research, written and oral proficiency in English, the capacity for analytical thinking, the ability to collaborate, as well as creativity, initiative, and independence.

The assessment will be based on previous experience and grades, the quality of the degree project, references, relevant experience, interviews, and the candidate's written motivation for seeking the position.

A short list will be set up and interviews with the top candidates will be carried out at the department or via internet.

Economic support for the PhD studies are guaranteed for full time studies during the time period agreed on in the individual study plan. The studies does normally mean four years full time studies. You are encouraged to contact the project leader for more information about the project.

Admission Regulations for Doctoral Studies at Stockholm University are available at: and regulations.

Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship.

The term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may be extended for a maximum of two years at a time. However, the total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study.

Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, research, and administration corresponding to a maximum of 20 % of a full-time position.

Please note that admission decisions cannot be appealed.

Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all.


For more information, please contact the (PI) Professor Xiaodong Zou

For general information about the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, please contact the Head of the Department, Professor Gunnar Svensson,


Apply for the PhD student position at Stockholm University’s recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline.

Please include the following information with your application

and, in addition, please include the following documents

Stockholm University contributes to the development of sustainable democratic society through knowledge, enlightenment and the pursuit of truth.


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