Postdoctoral Researcher in Material Science

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 28 Feb 2023

We are looking for highly motivated and skilled postdoctoral researcher in material science.

The postdoctoral researcher will be appointed for a fixed-term 30-month contract to work in a Bioeconomy in the North funded project entitled “From Forest to Functional Particles for Life Science” (FORFUN). The position is located in the Food Materials Science research group, led by Associate Professor Kirsi Mikkonen at the Department of Food and Nutrition, one of the six units of the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.

The appointed researcher will work in collaboration with the other members of the research team within the University of Helsinki including Professor Maija Tenkanen, Docent Kristiina Hildén, Docent Maarit Lahtinen and Associate Professor Anne-Maria Pajari. There is an expectation within FORFUN for a mobility period during the researcher’s appointment. This project brings together world-class leaders in the area of forest-based colloidal systems, including the University of British Columbia (Professor Orlando Rojas), Stockholm University (Professor Mika Sipponen) and the German-based company, LignoPure (Dr. Wienke Reynolds).

The FORFUN concept is to combine the advantageous properties of lignin and hemicelluloses to develop novel personal care and food products. We will selectively investigate lignin types, particle properties and functionalities together with hemicelluloses.


Wood biomass is an abundant renewable source of materials, but due to the accelerating depletion of natural resources and loss of biodiversity, it is important to explore new ways to use wood in a more resource-wise and sustainable manner. Future bioeconomy operations should be optimised by developing new raw materials, manufacturing methods, products and services, increasing the value added and resource efficiency, and by utilising side streams and circular economy operating models. This strategy fits especially well with lignin and hemicelluloses, which together comprise roughly 50% of wood mass but are predominantly burnt for energy or used for low value applications. Lignin and hemicelluloses have highly interesting properties for life science applications, as lignin has radical scavenging activity and absorbs UV light radiation, while both act as nutritional fibres and hemicelluloses a prebiotic. Lignin and hemicelluloses form stable colloidal systems, which are the basis of most life science materials. We anticipate that lignin and hemicelluloses have synergistic benefits that enhance their functionality and applicability in colloidal systems. However, new understanding is needed to fully exploit their potential, and innovative colloidal particle formation approaches are required to optimize functionalities in the product matrix.

Eligibility criteria:

We are looking for a highly motivated and skilled researcher with a doctoral degree and experience in material science, chemical science, forest-based bioproducts, colloidal systems, or relevant fields.

The appointee should be able to:

• Identify, design, conduct, and report research on colloidal systems from hemicelluloses and lignin.

• Contribute to proposal writing to apply for further research funding.

• Contribute to master/doctoral student supervision and teaching of material science or chemistry.

• Engage with the scientific community, research partners and the wider public, internationally and domestically through scientific publications, conference presentations, press releases, blogs etc.

The candidate is expected to have:

Education, experience and technical skills

  • A relevant doctoral degree including experience in chemical engineering, forest-based bioproducts, material science, or other related fields.
  • Fluency in English and excellent writing skills.
  • Experience in working with colloidal materials.
  • Skills in atomic force microscopy are beneficial.

Personal attributes and competencies

  • Interest in basic and applied science.
  • Excellent analytical and innovative research planning skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, experienced in working within multicultural and multidisciplinary teams.
  • High motivation for academic research, having initiative and capable of working independently as well as in team environments.
  • Values continuous improvement based on constructive evaluation, self-reflection and learning.
  • Flexible mindset and ability to work together and communicate with people from different disciplines.

The salary of the postdoctoral researcher will be based on level 5 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary component based on personal performance. The starting salary of the postdoctoral researcher will be ca. 3300–3600 euros/month, depending on the appointees’ qualifications and experience.

The University of Helsinki offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and health insurance, sports facilities, and opportunities for professional development. The university ( ) assists employees from abroad with their transition to work and life in Finland. A six-month trial period will be applied.


Applicants are requested to enclose with their application the following documents in English. Please compile all documents as a single PDF file:

1) A cover letter explaining the applicant’s motivation for the research work and a short research plan (e.g. approach, research materials and methods) (up to 3 pages).

2) Curriculum vitae showing the applicant's education, completed qualifications, work experience, possible list of publications and contact information of 2 persons for references (up to 3 pages).

3) Copies of Doctoral, Master's, and Bachelor's degree certificates and official transcripts of the records, and their translations, if the originals are not in Finnish, Swedish or English.

External applicants, please submit your application using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the Apply Now (Hae nyt) link.

Applicants who have a username and a valid employment contract, a grant researcher's contract or a visiting researcher's contract at the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application by using the Employee login (Työntekijän kirjautuminen).

The closing date for applications is 28.2.2023 at 23:59 EEST.

Further information about the position may be obtained from Associate Professor Kirsi Mikkonen (kirsi.s.mikkonen(at), or Project Coordinator Troy Faithfull (troy.faithfull(at)

If you need support with the recruitment portal, please contact HR Specialist Mirkka Juntunen (mirkka.juntunen(at)

About us:

The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry is located on the Viikki campus, ten kilometres from the Helsinki city centre. The mission of the faculty is to promote the sustainable use of renewable natural resources through scientific research and research-based teaching. We focus on agricultural and forest sciences, food and nutrition, microbiology, as well as on economics and management. We cover the full natural resource chain from farm to fork, the entire field of forest sciences from soil chemistry to marketing, as well as the environmental effects of related activities. Graduates from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry are versatile experts in biosciences and business, able to meet the needs of both the business sector and society at large.

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