Postdoctoral position in Molecular Networks of Alternative Life – a chemical approach

Updated: 11 days ago

(Astro-)physicists, chemists and biologists from four research institutes (API, HIMS, IBED and SILS) of the University of Amsterdam have set up a collaborative research and training program on the origins and fundamental aspects of life, including the possibilities for life elsewhere in the universe. This is part of a larger national research activity on ‘Origins and Evolution of Life – on Earth and in the Universe’, one of the routes that were defined in the National Research Agenda (Nationale wetenschapsagenda NWA). The faculty of science will start 4 projects, and this position is part of the BioNAL project:

Life anywhere might be very much like life-as-we-know-it (which is pretty homogeneous), but need not be. It may well be highly different. The same goes for new life forms, which we want to investigate bottom-up and top-down using synthetic methods. Life will need to have a minimal complexity in order to fulfill a number of requirements that are common to all autonomous life forms (CCEMM: containment, catalysis, Gibbs free energy harvest and dissipation, memory and molecular mobility). This in turn requires the networking of molecules. In a computational biology top-down approach, we will build networks of alternative components fulfilling requirements for autonomous life. In an experimental chemistry bottom-up approach, we will investigate sets of possible alternative building blocks forming alternative components. This is a highly innovative project, as it combines minimal complexity and network models, synthetic chemistry and synthetic biology.

The chemical approach will investigate alternative sets of building blocks leading to alternative networks and their components. In this project, alternative network components will be constructed from alternative building blocks.

What are you going to do?

This is an interdisciplinary project. You will:

  • collaborate with another postdoctoral researcher at the microbiology department [see our vacancy 20-606 ] and staff members from the four participating institutes;
  • perform prebiotic experiments towards alternative building blocks en molecular networks.
  • join the national and local Origins networks and interact with other projects within these networks;
  • report your results in peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences;
  • be part of a stimulating and challenging environment.

What do we require?
  • A PhD degree in chemistry or closely related field
  • good communication skills in oral and written English
  • ability to collaborate in an interdisciplinary team, mainly with the microbiology department;
  • experience in laboratory organic chemistry is an advantage.

An inclination for outreach would be a plus.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting on 1 January 2021 for the duration of 24 months (or equivalent).

The salary, depending on relevant experience before the beginning of the employment contract, will be €2,790 to €4,402 (scale 10) gross per month, based on a full-time contract of 38 hours a week. This is exclusive 8 % holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities  is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here .


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • Dr Annemieke Petrignani , assistant professor
    T: +31 (0)20 525 7158  

About the Faculty of Science and the  Van't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Van't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS)  is one of eight institutes of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Synthesis & Catalysis, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 15 November 2020. You may apply online by using the link below. 
Note, the selection process will start as the applications come in and the vacancy will be closed as soon as a suitable candidate is found.

Applications should include:

  • a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications;
  • a list of 3 referees who might be requested to deliver a reference.

We will invite potential candidates for online interviews in November/December 2020.

No agencies please

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