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  PHD position in aquatic photosynthesis: time-resolved spectroscopy and structural biology

   Department of Environment and Health

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  Dr V Chukhutsina  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Are you interested to learn the secrets of the aquatic world? This project aims to resolve photoregulation in aquatic photosynthesis using time-resolved spectroscopy and structural biology.

Half of the global photosynthesis occurs in the ocean and driven by single-celled photosynthesizers, cyanobacteria and algae. These aquatic organisms typically blossom in turbulent waters and in different ecological niches, due to their unique photoregulation strategies to maintain optimal photosynthetic efficiency in fluctuating light or other environmental stresses. The unique molecular responses remain largely unknown on the level of single proteins and the whole organisms. But to understand these processes is of essential importance and potentially could be a game changer in boosting biomass production for agriculture as well as in solving such pressing ecological problems as corals bleaching, algae toxic blooms and many other.

The candidate will employ advanced time-resolved spectroscopy and structural biology tools to assess in vivo and in vitro protein structural dynamics in various aquatic photosynthesizers, and thereby solve important puzzles in our understanding of photoregulation in the ocean. The research will be conducted at the VU, under the supervision of dr.Volha Chukhutsina in the group of Biophysics of Photosynthesis.

Your duties

•   Establish the experimental conditions to perform in vivo and in vitro time-resolved spectroscopy on various aquatic photosynthetic organisms and complexes

• investigate photo-regulatory and molecular responses to light increase

• participate in time-resolved serial crystallography experiments of the group

• perform time-resolved spectroscopy experiments and data analysis

• prepare photosynthetic samples for experimentation

• Write and defend a doctoral thesis on the basis of your own experimental work


•  MSc degree in Physics, Physical Chemistry, Biophysics, Biochemistry or related disciplines

• knowledge of and experience with optical spectroscopy and/or structural biology

• interest in working in a multidisciplinary environment

• excellent command of English

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,434 and a maximum €3,111, depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The initial employment contract will affect a period of 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years. Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

• 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, solid pension scheme (ABP)

• a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment

• a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor ? from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam?s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.


We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

The project will be conducted in the Biophysics of Photosynthesis group at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The group investigates the fundamental aspects of the natural process of photosynthesis in which the energy of the sun is stored in high-energy products. The group offers a multidisciplinary environment in which biologists, chemists and physicists work in close collaboration, and state-of-the art facilities for molecular biology, biochemistry, structural biology, plant physiology and spectroscopy (steady-state and ultrafast). The group is part of LaserLaB, an internationally renowned research institute.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the link below and upload your curriculum vitae, cover letter and if available a sample of a written report in English (e.g. Master Thesis). The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed

Vacancy questions

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Volha Chukhutsina

Position: Assistant Professor

E-mail: [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Environmental Sciences (13)

 About the Project