Postdoc: physics of ice-binding proteins

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: ;

Are you a physicist with a strong interest in single-molecule biophysics, and would you like to help unravel how ice-binding proteins protect organisms from frost-damage? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

Ice-binding proteins protect many living systems from critical frost damage by stalling the growth of ice crystals. Despite this crucial protective function, the physics of cryoprotection by ice-binding proteins is not well understood. This project aims to unravel the physical principles that enable ice-binding proteins to modulate the water-ice phase transition. We explore and exploit innovative biophysical (single-molecule) approaches to directly resolve dynamic interactions between ice, water, and proteins on the nanometer length scale and we develop new physical models to capture the underlying physics. New insights into the physics of ice-binding proteins can help to harness and optimise their cryoprotective potential in e.g. healthcare, crop protection, food technology, and anti-icing approaches.

Your duties
In this project, current team-members have set up innovative biophysical approaches such as (super-resolution) fluorescence microscopy to study molecular interactions at the ice-water interface. Potential duties within this project include experimental work, data analysis and theoretical modelling, such as:

  • exploring and exploiting state-of-the art biophysical approaches to concurrently observe ice growth and ice-binding proteins;
  • analysing the rich experimental data to quantify dynamic rearrangements of the ice-crystal surfaces and locally bound proteins;
  • theoretical modelling and/or simulations to elucidate the physics of ice recrystallisation inhibition by ice-binding proteins for the first time.

  • PhD degree in physics, specialised in and/or strong affinity with molecular biophysics;
  • preferred knowledge of and experience with (super-resolution fluorescence) microscopy and image analysis;
  • preferred knowledge of and experience with modelling and simulation approaches;
  • excellent communication skills in written and spoken English.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organisation. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,960 (scale 10) per month during the first year and increases to €4,670 (scale 10) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 15 months.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment, 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus, contribution to commuting expenses, discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance);, optional model for designing a personalised benefits package

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 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 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 more than 11,000 students.

About the department, institute, project
The position will be in the Physics of Living Systems section of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. This vibrant section consists of the groups of 6 principle investigators and is internationally renowned for the experimental and theoretical biophysics research in a variety of topics ranging from molecular to systems scales. The section is part of the Institute of Lasers, Life and Biophotonics (LaserLaB) Amsterdam and is equipped with unique world-class facilities for nanoscale imaging and manipulation. In particular, there is a long-standing expertise in development of innovative methodology dedicated to answering fundamental biophysical questions. The section is involved in many (inter)national collaborations and has a strong international atmosphere.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until



Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact the project leader:

Name: dr. ir. I Heller

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