Radboud University

PhD Candidate in Physical Chemistry and for Understanding Symbiosis between Synthetic Cells

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Radboud University is a denominational university originally established in 1923 as the Catholic University of Nijmegen.

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Employment 1.0 FTE

Gross monthly salary € 2,541 - € 3,247

Required background Research University Degree

Organizational unit Faculty of Science

Application deadline 31 August 2022

How life emerged from mixtures of molecules remains one of the great scientific mysteries. Exchange of functional molecules must have played a central role. As a PhD candidate, you will develop different primitive cells and study how they interact, exchange pieces of genetic material and work together, to understand how complex living cells could have evolved. 

Are you curious about how life could have started on our planet? Are you fascinated by bioinspired artificial cells built from simple chemicals? Are you interested in the chemistry of self-organisation, self-replication and communication? As a PhD candidate, you will aim to understand how functional primitive cells in the form of coacervates and liposomes interact with one another and host key biochemical processes, such as RNA replication and catalysis. The ultimate goal is to develop a method to transfer pieces of genetic material from one primitive cell to another to enable their growth, replication and evolution.

This research combines peptide and RNA chemistry with physical chemical techniques to create and analyse lipid vesicles and coacervate droplets; self-assembled structures will be analysed by advanced fluorescence microscopy techniques, including FRET, FRAP and RICS. You will communicate your findings through peer-reviewed journals and at international conferences. You will also be involved in teaching and training BSc and MSc students (up to 10% of your appointment).

Project Details: This PhD position is funded by an HFSP Early Career Research Grant entitled 'Crossing the barrier: horizontal gene transfer in synergistic protocells'; the project involves a collaboration with Prof. Derek O'Flaherty (University of Guelph, CA) and Prof. Claudia Bonfio (ISIS, University of Strasbourg, FR). You will become part of an international team of young researchers working in synergy to tackle related questions.


  • You should hold a Master's degree in Chemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Life Sciences, or a related field.
  • You are motivated, creative, open-minded and have a strong interest to work in an interdisciplinary research team, and in an international collaborative network.
  • Experience with (fluorescence) microscopy and/or peptide chemistry is an advantage.
  • You have good oral and written English communication skills.

We are

You will join the Department of Physical Organic Chemistry at Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands) and work with Dr Evan Spruijt within the Coacervates and Soft Interfaces research group. Our research is part of Chemistry of Complex Systems research theme of the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM). We are a physical chemistry lab trying to decipher the role of phase separation in the origin of life and the biochemical organisation in modern cells. We use a combination of organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and advanced microscopy to understand chemistry in complex, compartmentalised systems, with the ultimate goal of developing a functional synthetic cell that can grow, divide and evolve autonomously. IMM is a research institute in chemistry and physics promoting interdisciplinary research. Its mission is to design and create functional molecules and materials to fundamentally understand their behaviour. It consists of 24 research groups active in fields ranging from condensed matter physics to organic chemistry and biochemistry. It focuses on fundamental research with an open eye to societal applications and trains the next generation of leaders in science and innovation. You will have the opportunity to interact with researchers at IMM and participate in institute- wide activities.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!

We offer

  • It concerns an employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,541 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,247 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 29 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

Would you like more information?

For questions about the position, please contact Evan Spruijt, Associate Professor at e.spruijt@science.ru.nl.

Practical information and applying

You can apply until 31 August 2022, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Evan Spruijt. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:

  • A letter of motivation.
  • Your CV.

The first round of interviews will take place in week 35 and week 36. You would preferably begin employment on 1 October 2022.

We can imagine you're curious about our application procedure. It offers a rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we handle your personal data and how we deal with internal and external candidates.

Application deadline 31 August 2022

Informatie over de vacature

PhD Candidate in Physical Chemistry and for Understanding Symbiosis between Synthetic Cells
Houtlaan 4 Nijmegen, Nederland
Uiterste sollicitatiedatum
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Radboud University is a denominational university originally established in 1923 as the Catholic University of Nijmegen.

De pagina van de werkgever bekijken