PhD position in the field of enzymatic electrosynthesis

We are looking for a talented student with a strong background in biochemistry to fill a four-year PhD post within the Academy of Finland Fellowship project “Novel biocatalysts for a sustainable bioeconomy – enzyme structures enabling carbon dioxide valorisation at electrodes”.

Project description
This project is inspired by the recent discovery of an archaeal enzyme complex, which catalyses the reduction of CO2 at submerged electrodes. Within this project, it will be attempted to determine the structure of this archaeal enzyme complex and a functionally related bacterial enzyme complex and use this information for the development of novel electrosynthetic enzymes. Thereby, this project explores the possibility to decrease anthropogenic CO2 emissions by replacing oil-based processes for chemicals production with more sustainable bioprocesses.

Job description
The PhD student will be primarily based at VTT’s Industrial Biotechnology and Food Solutions unit, which is located on the Otaniemi campus in Espoo. Additional national sites of research are the Biochemistry Department at Aalto University (Espoo) and the Biocenter Oulu and Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the University of Oulu, where a part of the protein purification and structural data analysis and modelling will be performed. The student is expected to participate in international collaboration by conducting part of the research at our partner institutions Stanford University and University of Tokyo during periods of about six and two months, respectively.

Most experiments will be performed in anaerobic chambers and utilize Escherichia coli and Methanococcus maripaludis as protein production hosts. The main project objectives include genetic manipulation of these species as well as method development for the crystallization of the electrosynthetic enzyme complexes and their functional characterisation as catalysts in electrosynthetic systems.

VTT Offers
The project is supported by VTT’s excellent research facilities, a friendly work environment and an interdisciplinary network of highly skilled experts and research support staff. The hosting organisation is VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), which is an impartial non-profit Research and Technology Organisation that uses its close ties to academia and industry to promote the application of science. The doctoral position is funded for four years and will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate has been found.

A successful applicant is expected to have an MSc degree or equivalent in a relevant field of science such as protein biochemistry, crystallography and protein design with the desire for lab-work. The candidate shall have demonstrable competence of common microbiology and molecular biology laboratory skills, such as culturing of microorganisms, gene cloning and enzyme assays. Competence in analysis of protein structural data is also desired.

Institution contact information

For additional information related to this post, please contact the project manager Dr. Michael Lienemann (



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