PhD position in biotechnology for engineering bacterial polysaccharides

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 01 Mar 2024

1st March 2024

  • English

The Department of Biotechnology and Food Science has a vacancy for a
PhD position in biotechnology for engineering bacterial polysaccharides
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About the job

A three-year PhD position in biotechnology with a focus on glycosyltransferase engineering and ploysaccharide characterization is available in the group of Assoc. Prof. Gaston Courtade at the Department of Biotechnology and Food Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway.

The goal of the position is that the PhD will complete a doctoral education programme, contribute significantly to the PolyMod project, and obtain a doctoral degree.

The PhD candidate will work as part of the PolyMod project, aiming to model and engineer glycosyltransferases involved in xanthan assembly to produce novel polysaccharides. The candidate will work on generating variants of glycosyltransferases and screening the activity of these glycosyltransferase variants, expressing them in Xanthomonas campestris and E. coli using specific plasmids, and producing polysaccharides by cultivating the variants. Finally, novel polysaccharides identified will be characterized in depth using various methods. These include monosaccharide analysis, rheological measurements, NMR spectroscopy for fragment and linkage analysis, and size-exclusion chromatography with multi-angle light scattering. Impacts from the project will include a molecular biology and analytical toolbox to produce and characterize novel polysaccharides for industrial applications.

The project is in close collaboration with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jochen Schmid (University of Münster) and the PhD candidate will work closely with other PhD and master students.

You will report to Assoc. Prof. Gaston Courtade. More information about the research group can be found at

Duties of the position
  • Design of lab experiments to generate mutants of glycosyltransferases
  • Cultivation of bacterial strains to produce xanthan and glycosyltransferase
  • Characterization of polysaccharides using HPLC, MS, NMR, light scattering, or other methods
  • Analysis of data collected from experiments
  • Preparation of manuscripts and doctoral thesis based on research findings
  • Presentation of results at group meetings and scientific conferences

Required selection criteria
  • You must have a master’s degree in biotechnology, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, or a related field
  • Good written and oral communication skills in English
  • Good analytical skills
  • Motivation for solving scientific problems
  • Experience working with microorganisms
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level
  • You must have a strong academic background and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Natural Sciences

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant 

Preferred selection criteria

Preference will be given to candidates with:

  • Experience in polysaccharide and/or enzyme characterization
  • Experience with HPLC analytical methods

Personal characteristics
  • Creative approach to problem solving
  • Adapts behaviour to achieve goals, overcome setbacks or solve a challenge
  • Learns from experiences and feedback from others

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer
  • Exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment. We have state-of-the-art infrastructure
  • The possibility to gain international experience through research stays with collaborators in Germany
  • An open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • A work environment where everyone must behave in a way that is based on respect for their colleagues and work partners, regardless of gender, cultural background, ethnicity, or other characteristics
  • Favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • Employee benefits

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 532 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years and should start before or during August 2024.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Biotechnology (PhD in Biotechnology ) within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants , and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

The position is subject to external funding.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include: 

  • A cover letter containing a summary of research interests, accomplishments, career goals, and a preferred start date
  • A current CV
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment
  • Contact information for three references

If all, or parts, of you education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here . If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates. 

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation . You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Assoc. Professor Gaston Courtade, email: [email protected] 

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.  

Application deadline: 01.03.2024

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NTNU - knowledge for a better world

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.


Department of Biotechnology and Food Science

Our activities contribute to increased exploitation of existing and new ingredients for sustainable food production as well as next-generation energy solutions and medical technology. We educate graduates for a wide range of careers in industry, public administration and academia. The Department of Biotechnology and Food Science is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences .

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1st March 2024


NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology




Fulltime (1 positions) Fulltime (%)



Place of service
Høgskoleringen 1, 7491 Trondheim


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