PhD Position – Method development of cryogenic 4D-STEM imaging

Updated: 26 days ago

Your Job:

At the ER-C-3, the Structural Biology department of the ER-C, we use a comprehensive electron microscopy approach to study the biological structures of membrane-associated protein complexes in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. In close cooperation with experts in the development of methodologies in 4D-STEM, new approaches for low-dose imaging at high contrast in cryo-EM are worked out both theoretically and experimentally. The research is embedded in the vibrant research consortium 4D-BioSTEM with the Müller-Caspary and Stahlberg groups from LMU Munich and EPFL Lausanne funded by an ERC Synergy Grant.

We are offering a PhD position dedicated to the advancement of cryo-STEM imaging methods at the interface of structural biology and material science electron microscopy at the Forschungszentrum Jülich. Cryo-EM has become a very powerful method to visualize ice-embedded samples including purified proteins at close to atomic resolution. Single-particle cryo-EM as well as cryo-ET are based on conventional transmission electron microscopy (TEM) exposures taken in underfocus. In this project, we aim to further develop the imaging capabilities based on 4D-STEM including differential phase contrast as well as ptychography in order to apply them to vitrified biological specimens.

Your tasks include:

  • Develop novel methods for the application of 4D-STEM methods to biological specimens.
  • Operate high-resolution electron microscopes with ice-embedded biological samples including hybrid pixel detectors.
  • Perform image analysis of 4D-STEM data to determine high-resolution cryo-EM structures of ice-embedded test specimens and in situ cellular samples.
  • Employ advanced imaging methods together with an interdisciplinary team of physicists and structural biologists.

Further information on our research and the project can be found here:

We have prepared a short video for you to introduce some of the team members and to give you a deeper insight into our institute and what we do: https://go.fzj.de/video_er-c

Your Profile:

  • Master degree in biophysics, biochemistry, molecular or cell biology or related field. Applications from Physics masters are particularly encouraged.
  • Strong experimental skills in biophysics, molecular cell biology experiment design including associated data analysis.
  • Prior knowledge of either physical and/or structural biology electron microscopy techniques is of advantage.
  • Strong communication skills and ability to work in an international and interdisciplinary team.

Our Offer:

We work on the very latest issues that impact our society and are offering you the chance to actively help in shaping the change! We offer ideal conditions for you to complete your doctoral degree:

  • The chance to work at one of the largest research centers in Germany, with excellent scientific equipment and leading European computational resources, located on a green campus, and near the cultural centers Köln, Düsseldorf, and Aachen. The Jülich campus also hosts a vibrant biophysics, bioinformatics and structural biology community.
  • The activities are embedded in a well-supported scientific infrastructure within outstanding electron microscopy environment together with the Biological and Physical sciences.
  • Direct access to high-level cryo-EM infrastructure at the Ernst-Ruska Centre. The facility has been extended with state-of-the-art cryo-microscopes and FIB-SEMs of ThermoFisher Titan Krios (including STEM setup), Talos Arctica and FIB-SEM Aquilos 2.
  • Working in a dynamic team of researchers with backgrounds in different disciplines across biology, chemistry, physics and informatics to advance cryo-EM methods.
  • A wide range of scientific challenges covering microscope operation, image processing and structure determination for structural biology.
  • Further development of your personal strengths, e.g. through an extensive range of training courses; a structured program of continuing education and networking opportunities specifically for doctoral researchers via JuDocS, the Jülich Center for Doctoral Researchers and Supervisors: https://www.fz-juelich.de/en/judocs
  • Targeted services for international employees, e.g. through our International Advisory Service


The employment of doctoral researchers at Jülich is governed by a doctoral contract, which usually has a term of three years. Attractive pay in line with 65% of pay group 13 of the Collective Agreement for the Public Service (TVöD-Bund) and additionally 60 % of a monthly salary as special payment („Christmas bonus“). Further information on doctoral degrees at Forschungszentrum Jülich including our other locations is available at: https://www.fz-juelich.de/gp/Careers_Docs

In addition to exciting tasks and a collaborative working atmosphere at Jülich, we have a lot more to offer: https://go.fzj.de/benefits

We welcome applications from people with diverse backgrounds, e.g. in terms of age, gender, disability, sexual orientation / identity, and social, ethnic and religious origin. A diverse and inclusive working environment with equal opportunities in which everyone can realize their potential is important to us.



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