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PhD student in biological physics / theoretical biology: Understanding the mechanisms of spatial organisation of proteins within bacterial cells

   Department of Systems and Synthetic Microbiology

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  Dr Sean Murray  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The research group of Dr Seán Murray in the Department of Systems and Synthetic Microbiology at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany invites applications for a PhD student in biological physics to start in early 2020.

Working at the interface between biology and physics, our aim is to understand the mechanisms behind the sub-cellular organisation of proteins and DNA within bacterial cells. The student will focus on the development and validation of informative mathematical models and simulations. They will work closely with biologists on model refinement and testing and on data analysis.

The project consists of two parts, one in collaboration with Prof. Colin Kleanthous (Oxford) on the re-organisation of outer membrane proteins and another internal collaboration with Dr Simon Ringgaard on the positioning of chemosensory arrays. Additional purely theoretical projects are also possible.

The successful applicants will become a member of either the IMPRS ( or SYNMIKRO ( graduate schools.

The MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology consists of four departments and several department-independent research groups and offers a stimulating, interdisciplinary and international research environment. More information about can be found at Together with the neighbouring Philipps University of Marburg, it forms one of the largest clusters of microbiology research in Europe with facilities for genomics, proteomics, robotics, fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Interactions are also encouraged with the university’s Department of Physics, which, among other topics, conducts research into biological physics, dynamical systems and quantitative biology.

Applicants should send their application in English and should include a motivation letter, CV, exam results and the names and contact details of academic referees as a single pdf file by e-mail to: [Email Address Removed]. Applications will be considered as they are submitted. Nominal deadline is 1st February 2020 but applications will be considered until the position is filled. Further information can be found by email to the above address. See also

Funding Notes

The student should have a degree (preferable a master’s) in physics, mathematics or computer science (or a related discipline) and ideally have some programming experience. They will work closely with biologists and, while knowledge of biology is not required, applicants should have a genuine interest in answering biological questions. Knowledge of image analysis and/or finite element methods would be an advantage. Applicants should additionally have excellent communication, organizational and time-management skills and enjoy working proactively and independently. Good command of spoken and written English is essential. Salary is according to TVöD at level E13 (65%).
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