Saturday, 11 February 2012

PhD scholarship in the structures, functions and analysis of plant cell walls, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

The Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology is offering a PhD scholarship commencing 1 April 2012 or soon thereafter. The application deadline is 14 February 2012.

Project description
The carbohydrate-rich walls that surround plant cells are remarkable for their complexity and diversity. These characteristics ensure that plants can build walls that are configured precisely to suit prevailing functional
requirements that vary across tissues and organs and that change according to external conditions. These same characteristics and the sheer abundance of cell wall biomass also generate a rich resource of polysaccharides that is widely used in the commercial sector. Bulk materials including timber paper and cloth, as well as fine chemicals, food ingredients and biofuel biomass all depend on the varied and particular features of cell wall components. However, the attributes that make cell walls vital for plant life and so valuable to industry also produce unique challenges for research. Unlike proteins and nucleotides, complex carbohydrates are not readily amenable to sequencing or synthesis. It is very frequently the case that proteins that interact with cell wall glycans, for example antibodies, enzymes, binding modules or ligands can often be produced rapidly and in multiple variant forms. The rate-limiting step for determining the binding or activity of these proteins is usually the lack of high throughput (HTP) screening technology that is specifically adapted for glycans. This is important because molecular probes and enzymes have vital roles to play in understanding the fundamental biology of cell walls, and for developing their industrial potential. Microarray technology has underpinned the development of multiplexed assays that have revolutionised the massively HTP analysis of nucleotides, proteins and increasing carbohydrates. We have developed carbohydrate microarrays for rapid cell wall analysis and have used this technology for profiling cell wall polysaccharide and also for the screening of cell wall directed monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) , carbohydrate binding modules (CBMs) and carbohydrate-active enzymes. This project will extend this work in the context of the multinational and multidisciplinary WallTraC EU consortium. The project will involve collaborative research with several WallTraC partners and will provide opportunities for extended training secondments in a variety of internationally renowned laboratories engaged in cell wall research. Particular focus areas will be the analysis of cotton fibre and the development of HTP methods for CBM, mAb and enzyme screening.

Principal supervisor
Professor William G.T. Willats
Direct Phone: (+45) 3533 3324
Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology.

Job description
Your key tasks as a PhD fellow at LIFE are:
  • Manage and carry through your research project
  • Take PhD courses
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • Participate in international congresses
  • Stay at a research institution abroad for a few months
  • Teach and disseminate your research.
Key criteria for the assessment of candidates:
  • A master´s degree related to the subject area of the project
  • The grade point average achieved
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills
  • Interpersonal skills.

Formal requirements
The positions are available for a 3-year period for applicants holding a relevant master´s degree.

The successful applicant of the PhD scholarship must pass an enrolment in the LIFE Graduate School before the faculty can finish the letter of employment.
Graduate School of Faculty of Life Sciences, LIFE strives to give our students the best international career prospects within our main research areas.

Terms of employment
The position will be filled according to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The post is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

EU rules concerning hiring of PhD candidates for Initial Training Networks dictate that researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. This rule does not apply in cases where a researcher is subsequently appointed in another node of the same network within the same country.

Application Procedure
Apply by clicking "Apply online" below.

Applications - in English - must include:
  • Cover Letter, stating which PhD project you are applying for and detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project.
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records  
  • Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any), peer reviewed and other
  • Personal Recommendations   
  • A maximum of 3 relevant scientific works which the applicant wishes to be included in the assessment.

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation Executive Order no 284 of 25. April 2008.

By the end of March all applicants will have received information regarding the evaluation of their application. Receipt of the application will not be acknowledged.

The application must be received no later than 14 February 2012. Applications received later than this date will not be considered.

For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD programmes is available at

Deadline: 14-02-2012

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