Postdoctoral researcher and PhD student positions within enzyme characterization and meta-omics

Updated: 4 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 09 Feb 2022

About the position

The Protein Engineering and Proteomics (PEP ) group at the Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has one post-doctoral researcher and one PhD student position available within the Enzyclic project. This project aims to discover and develop new enzyme technology for recycling plastic polymers. The project is multidisciplinary with partners including Norner (plastic research institute), Bellona Foundation (organization that works with environmental challenges), the Circular Packaging Cluster (cluster of companies representing all stages of the plastic packaging value chain) and Aclima (company making thermal underwear).

The PhD student position revolves around understanding how plastic degrading bacteria and insects manage to convert insoluble and highly recalcitrant plastics to simple chemicals that can be catabolized. By employing meta-omics techniques on such plastic eating organisms, metabolic pathways will be elucidated.  

These pathways will yield an array of enzyme targets that will be expressed and characterized by the postdoctoral researcher, with the aim of creating an enzymatic toolbox for plastic modification and degradation. The post-doctoral researcher will also explore and engineer lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (enzymes discovered at NMBU) for further evolving and optimizing these enzymes for plastic depolymerization.

The Enzyclic project is part of NMBU’s Sustainability arena SmartPlast . Read more about the Enzyclic project .

Main tasks

PhD position (metagenomics and metaproteomics)

  • Sample (DNA and protein) preparation from environmental, insect gut and enrichment samples.
  • Generation of meta-omics datasets.
  • Functional meta-omics characterization of plastic-degrading microbial communities and insects using metabolic reconstruction and quantitative metaproteomics. 
  • Identification of key metabolic pathways and enzymes potentially involved in plastic conversion.

Postdoctoral researcher position (enzyme discovery, enzymology and enzyme engineering)

  • Bioinformatic identification and analysis of target enzymes.
  • Clone, express and purify enzymes.
  • Characterize enzymes (redox active enzymes and hydrolases) with analytical techniques such as HPLC/UPLC, LC-MS/MS, SPR, ITC and other (bio)chemical analytical methods.
  • Engineer LPMOs (and, later on, other relevant enzymes) to modify and improve their function towards plastic polymers.


PhD student

Required academic qualifications and experience

  • MSc degree in microbiology/bioinformatics/biochemistry.
  • Grades that are sufficient to be admitted to NMBU’s PhD program (minimum B as average grade for the MSc studies). For detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations  and the relevant PhD programme description .

One or more of the following additional experiences and skills are desirable

  • For the PhD student, experience with generating -omics data, bioinformatic analysis of such data, and/or microbial ecology and/or microbial enrichment technologies is highly advantageous.

Post-doctoral researcher

Required academic qualifications and experience

  • A PhD degree in a field relevant to the main tasks.
  • Training and research experience in protein biochemistry (this includes basic gene technology, protein expression and purification, basic enzymology).
  • Training and research experience in relevant analytical methods, such as HPLC and /or LC-MS.

One or more of the following additional experiences and skills are desirable

  • Knowledge of and experience in redox enzymology
  • Protein design, protein engineering and directed evolution
  • Experience with enzymatic depolymerization of plastic polymers
  • Experience with chemical analysis of plastic polymers and their building blocks

The following is applicable for both positions

Personal qualities:

  • The ideal candidates will combine (and be able to document) the following personal qualities:
  • Hard-working, ambitious and accurate.
  • Genuinely interested in scientific research and its industrial applications.
  • Good social and collaborative skills documented, e.g., by successful international collaboration.
  • Good communicative skills, orally and written, in English (candidates will be required to give a research presentation in English as part of the recruitment process).

We expect that the candidates will publish research findings in high-impact peer reviewed scientific journals. Applicants must be proficient both written and spoken, in English, and, preferably, also in a Scandinavian language.

Remuneration and further information

Post-doctoral positions are placed in government pay scale position code 1352, wage framework 24 (salary grade 59-77) (NOK 534.400 – 752.800), or position code 1109 /1183 Researcher (wage framework 24/25 (salary grade 61-77) (NOK 553.500 – 752.800) / (salary grade 72-80; NOK 667.600 – 825.900), depending on qualifications.

The PhD position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017. PhD fellows are placed in salary grade 54 (NOK 491.200) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

For further information, please contact the project leader, Prof. Gustav Vaaje-Kolstad ( ). Additional information may be obtained from Profs. Phil B. Pope (meta-omics aspects; ) or Vincent Eijsink (leader of the PEP group; enzymology; ).

general Information to applicants


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline: 09.02.2022

Up to ten publications selected by the applicant as most relevant must be attached to the application. If it is difficult to identify the contribution of the applicant in multiple-author publications, a short explanation about the applicant’s part of the work is suggested.

Printed material which cannot be sent electronically should be sent by surface mail to Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, within 09.02.22. Please quote reference number 22/00221.

Applicants invited for an interview will be asked to present verified copies of diplomas and certificates.

About The Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science

The Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science (KBM) employs about 160 people. Currently about 50 PhD students are enrolled into our PhD program. KBM represents a broad range of scientific fields encompassing basic natural sciences such as microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry as well as the application of these towards food chemistry, technology and safety, biotechnology, bioprocessing and environmental issues. The Faculty is responsible for education, research and information within our fields of expertise and also has state-of-the-art instrumentation to perform research within these fields. KBM collaborates in networks and research projects both nationally and internationally. 

Further information:

The Norwegian University of Life Sciences

NMBU has a particular responsibility for research and education that secures the basis for the life of future generations. Sustainability is rooted in everything we do and we deliver knowledge for life. NMBU has 1,900 employees of which about 300 phd scholarships and 6,700 students. The university is divided into seven faculties.

NMBU believes that a good working environment is characterised by diversity.

We encourage qualified candidates to apply regardless of gender, functional ability, cultural background or whether you have been outside the labour market for a period. If necessary, workplace adaptations will be made for persons with disabilities. More information about NMBU is available at

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