PhD position on recyclable polycarbonates by dynamic-covalent chemistry

Updated: 2 months ago

Your job

Do you have a strong ambition to develop polymer materials that contribute to a circular economy? Do you like working together in a large, multidisciplinary team to tackle an urgent societal challenge? And do you enjoy using organic chemistry to make new polymers with unexplored properties?
Then we are looking for you! We have a PhD position available in which you can develop polycarbonate polymers with dynamic-covalent functionalities that enable them to become better recyclable.

For a recently awarded research grant by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), we are looking for a PhD student to come and join our consortium. This DynaBranch consortium consists of partners from Wageningen University, Eindhoven University of Technology, Avans University of Applied Sciences, with SABIC as industrial partner. The aim of the program is to increase the recyclability of an important class of engineering plastics: polycarbonates. For this, we will (chemically) modify polycarbonates by dynamic-covalent chemistry. These new polymers will be combined with existing polycarbonate (as part of a recycling stream) to achieve (re)processing that is compatible with existing infrastructure. The overall project will cover topics from organic/polymer synthesis, polymer processing and characterisation, ageing and recycling studies, as well as socio-economic analyses related to the acceptance of these new materials.

For this consortium we are now recruiting a PhD student in the Dynamic Polymers group of Maarten Smulders ( ) at Wageningen University. As PhD student, you will focus on how to integrate dynamic-covalent motifs in polycarbonates and characterise these newly developed polymers (additives). Specifically, you will unravel the dynamic behaviour of these new materials, including also as function of temperature. Moreover, the compatibility of the these newly developed ‘dynamic’ polymers with commercial polycarbonates will be explored. You will work in close collaboration with a second PhD student that will be appointed in parallel in the group of Hans Heuts at Eindhoven University of Technology ( ), and you will also spend time in Eindhoven. Finally, you will also work together with the other partners for further material characterisation, scale-up studies and industrial implementation.

The research is embedded within the chair Organic Chemistry at Wageningen University, which is led by Prof. Han Zuilhof . You will be supervised by Dr. Maarten Smulders .

Your qualities

You have

  • a successfully completed MSc degree in Organic Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Materials Science, or related discipline;
  • a strong background in experimental science and hands-on experience in polymer chemistry and characterisation, including (dynamic) mechanical analysis;
  • good analytical skills, initiative and creativity;
  • the ambition to be part of a dynamic team and multidisciplinary research environment;

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 


. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found



We offer you

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment . A few highlights from our  Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • study leave and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief , known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

Do you want more information?

Do you want more information?
For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Maarten Smulders, associate professor at the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry, by telephone: +31317480435 or by e-mail: .

For more information about the procedure, please contact Carolien Troost, HR-advisor, by e-mail: .

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter, using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including Friday March 24, 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews in second half of March 2023. The preferred starting date for this position is May 1, 2023.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page . A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment .

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

The Organic Chemistry group constitutes a large, interdisciplinary research team involved in teaching and research on (surface-based) organic and analytical chemistry. The team consists of approx. 30 PhD students and postdocs, 10 technicians and teachers, 7 assistant and associate professors, one full-time chair and two part-time professors with external expertise. Currently ca. 1700 students/year take part in one or more Organic Chemistry study elements provided by our faculty.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.

View or Apply

Similar Positions