PhD position in bioelectrochemical enrichment of metals

The University of Bremen is offering (under the condition of job release) at the earliest possible date:

Ph.D. position in bioelectrochemical enrichment of metals
Salary group 13 TV-L (75 %), 36 months

in an interdisciplinary project at the interface of microbiology, electrochemistry and material sciences. The motivation of this PhD project is the search for new technological approaches for the extraterrestrial fabrication of metal alloys under tough environmental constraints, in particular the limitation of utilizing mineral and energy resources available in situ on Mars or Moon. More specifically, the project aims at exploring bio-based possibilities to extract iron species from regolith and enrich them as purified iron compounds. These compounds are then used in steel-making processes based on non-conventional metallurgy. In this sub project, microbial electrochemical technologies such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) will be used for enhanced production and selective recovery of metal ion species. Microbial communities developing in MFCs will be characterized using state-of-the-art tools such as high-throughput sequencing, metagenomics and metatranscriptomics.

Within the new research initiative in close collaboration with the Hochschule Bremen (HSB), Ph.D. students are supervised by a team of experienced scientists ranging from electrochemistry, material sciences to microbiology and biomimetics. Additional training and support are offered by international graduate Programmes within the MAPEX Center for Materials and Processes, the MarMic Graduate School and the Biomimetic-Innovation-Centre (HSB). These offers include expert as well as skills and methods courses, coaching, networking opportunities, and the opportunity to compete for internal funds. Ph.D. students have the opportunity to acquire expert knowledge in their field and a solid background across many disciplines involved in the interdisciplinary project.

Specific tasks will include:
1. Setting up and running novel microbial electrochemical enrichments
2. Characterization of metal ions and solid metal compounds by chemical and spectroscopic methods
3. Extraction and analysis of nucleic acids from bioreactor samples
4. Investigation and optimization of conversion efficiency and energy demands
5. Bioinformatic and statistical analysis of data
6. Opportunity for scientific qualification in the context of a PhD degree

Your profile:
• A completed MSc or diploma degree in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Electrochemistry, Material Sciences or a comparable program
• Interest in interdisciplinary research
• Interest in developing new methods for microbial fuel cell technology
• Skills in (bio)informatics would be advantageous
• Working in teams, visiting collaboration partners

The goal of the MAPEX is the system-oriented research and development of materials and processes for sustainable transport and energy applications. The centre merges the know-how of more than 1000 scientific and technical staff, 480 of which are doctoral candidates, active in the fields of natural and engineering sciences as well as mathematics and aiming at a thorough understanding of the process-properties-performance relationships in materials.
MarMic is the International Max-Planck-Research School (IMPRS) with a focus on marine microbiology at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. Since its foundation in 2005 the Biomimetics-Innovation-Centre at the Hochschule Bremen has been coordinating research activities in the fields of fundamental interdisciplinary research and development.

The University of Bremen follows a diversity strategy. It strives to increase the number of women in the academy and strongly encourages applications from suitably qualified female candidates. International applications and applications of academics with a migration background are explicitly welcome. Disabled persons with the same professional and personal qualifications will be given preference. The employment is fixed-term and governed by the Act of Academic Fixed-Term Contract, §2 I (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz – WissZeitVG). Therefore, candidates may only be considered for appointment if they still have the respective qualification periods available in accordance with § 2 (1) WissZeitVG.

We look forward to receiving your e-mail application in English including CV, letter of motivation, and reference contacts!

Institution contact information

Information regarding the open PhD position can be obtained by contacting

Sven Kerzenmacher (Bioelectrochemistry;
Michael Friedrich (Microbiology;
Jan-Henning Dirks (Biomimetics;

Contact email address



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