PhD Positions in Organic Chemistry

VU University of Amsterdam European Industrial Doctorate

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie European Training Network (ETN)  REVAMP, is looking for four highly motivated and talented students with an MSc degree who are interested in an European Industrial Doctorate (EID) within an ambitious multidisciplinary project on reference materials for the environmental contaminants chlorinated paraffins (CPs) and perfluorinated alkyl compounds (PFAS)

Job description

REVAMP Project’s overall goals

The recent United Nations Global Chemicals Outlook II predicts a doubling of the volume of the global chemicals market within ten years. The impact of new emerging chemicals on humans and the environment remains largely unknown. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the capacity of the chemical metrology sector to identify and quantify exposure to new chemical pollutants. The EU-funded REVAMP (Reference materials and validated methods for emerging pollutants) project will offer innovative training to four early-stage researchers (ESRs). It aims for scalable solutions to rapidly identify, develop, produce and implement new certified reference materials and methods for the assessment of new and existing chemical compounds, in particular chlorinated paraffins (CPs) and perfluorinated alkyl compounds (PFAS). The ESRs will combine scientific research and business experience to solve specific challenges at the interface of organic and analytical chemistry, and toxicology relevant to the chemical metrology sector.

The four ESRs described here will be hosted by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA). Their ambitious mandate is to synthesize and certify analytical standards of high purity to enable a reliable analysis of CPs and PFAS in environmental matrices.

REVAMP training is implemented via close collaboration of leading organisations and includes a mobility plan based of secondments of ESRs between the academic and non-academic partners. During the 3-year doctorate study, each ESR will spend 18 months at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 14 months at the  industrial partner CHIRON (Trondheim, Norway) and 4 months on secondments at two non-academic partner organisations, i.e. the European Reference Laboratory, Freiburg (Germany), the Marine Institute, Galway (Ireland), Bruker, Bremen (Germany) or Waters, Manchester (UK).

The ESRs will team up combining academic research, business and industrial knowledge to overcome specific challenges related to the chemical metrology cycle, including: i) screening and identification of target CPs and PFAS for which analytical standards are needed, ii) synthesis of analytical standards for CPs and PFAS, iii) developing, validating, and implementing analytical methods to measure CPs and PFAS in various matrices, iv) investigating (bio)transformation pathways and conduct in-vitro toxicity testing.

Two of the ESRs will focus on the CPs and two on PFAS. In addition, two of the ESRs will use biological in vitro methods (biotransformation/bioassays). Depending on your interest and experience, we therefore recommend to indicate your preference for one or more of the PhD positions in your application.

Your duties

The main researchs topics of the four PhDs

PhD 1

  • Synthesis of individual CP congeners and mixtures with a focus on long-chain (LC) CPs, CPs comprising other halogens, and 13C labelled standards
  • Development, validation, and implementation of analytical methods for the determination of CPs in environmental matrices, feed, and food
  • Use of hyphenated techniques such as LC-APCI-QTOF-MS, GCxGC-µECD or -MS, LCxLC-QTOF-MS, GC-ECNI-MS, (tims)-QTOF-MS

PhD 2

  • Screening, identification, synthesis and preparative purification of most relevant CP biotransformation products, de-chlorination (olefins), oxidation products and individual CP congeners with a focus on synthesis of larger amounts for toxicity test purposes
  • Investigate (bio)transformation pathways and conduct in vitro toxicity testing
  • Develop analytical methods for the determination of CP biotransformation products

PhD 3

  • Screening of emerging PFAS, like possible transformation products of side-chain fluorinated polymers used in the durable water chemistry, firefighting foams, and the indoor environment using high-resolution MS
  • Develop new methods for the synthesis of these emerging PFAS including 13C labelled analytical standards
  • Development, validation, and implementation of analytical methods for the determination of the newly identified and synthesized PFASs compounds together with the already known PFAS

PhD 4

  • Determine the putative identity of bioactive PFAS found in the environment by Effect-Directed Analysis, combining high resolution fractionation, in vitro toxicity testing and high resolution MS
  • Synthesize these emerging PFAS for analytical and toxicological purposes with extra attention to making larger amounts available for toxicity tests, and chemical purity of the reference materials, which is needed to perform proper toxicity studies)
  • Confirm the identity and toxicity of the synthesized PFAS

Further duties and our expectations

  • Inter/transdisciplinary collaboration in the ESR team
  • Ensure QA/QC of data produced
  • Supervision of Master’s students in their research and literature theses within the framework of the REVAMP project
  • Regular progress updates at REVAMP project meetings and group meetings
  • Dissemination of results in peer-reviewed journals and at (inter)national conferences
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis at the VUA

Requirements

  • Required diploma: MSc in organic, pharmaceutical or analytical chemistry, or an equivalent degree in a closely related field
  • Required expertise: Organic chemistry, analytical chemistry (e.g. liquid and/or gas chromatography, mass spectrometry), excellent command of the English language and scientific writing skills
  • Recommended expertise: In vitro bioassays (PhDs 2 and 4)

Eligibility criteria of Marie Curie Initial Training Networks

Only applicants who comply with the following conditions will be considered:

  • At the time of recruitment by the host organisation, candidates must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree
  • International mobility: Eligible candidates may be of any nationality but must not, at the time of recruitment, have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date

What are we offering?

Fixed-term contract, initially for one year, to be extended to 36 months after a positive evaluation.

REVAMP offers the candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam:

  • a generously funded full-time position (duration 36 months) for an early stage researcher (ESR) according to the EU Marie Curie ITN funding scheme (for more information see   https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/other/guides_for_applicants/h2020-guide-appl-msca-itn_en.pdf
  • a high profile research project in the REVAMP Innovative Training Network Program
  • excellent facilities for research and education
  • research training in both academic and non-academic settings
  • training in state-of-the-art scientific and transferable (soft) skills
  • access to large network via REVAMP international collaborators and secondment abroad

A challenging position in a socially engaged organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel, and amounts €2790 gross per month based on a full-time employment plus a living costs allowance of €480 per month, plus possible mobility and family allowances according to the EU rules (https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/sites/mariecurie2/files/msca-itn-fellows-note_en_v2.pdf). The job profiles are based on the university job ranking system; the positions are vacant for 1.0 FTE each.

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the REVAMP consortium

The REVAMP consortium has a dedicated mission to train and educate the next generation of interdisciplinary early stage researchers (ESRs) in the field of reference materials. These scientists will build up expertise in three commonly very distant disciplines, environmental, chemical and business oriented sciences, which will make them highly employable after the project closes. The REVAMP consortium will offer an extensive multidisciplinary training programme to the ESRs to ensure that they can take on complex environmental issues and contribute to Europe’s eco-innovation. This will include both research and transferable skill sets. The aim is to enhance their career opportunities by specifically focusing on skill sets that are needed to work in today’s environmental science pipelines not only in academia, but in the public and private sectors. The four ESRs will be hosted at the Departments of Environment and Health, and Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Application

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 15 April 2021. The job interviews will take place via a Skype / Zoom interview.

Please upload the following information (as one pdf file):

  • Detailed CV (include information on your BSc and MSc studies, languages, achievements, expertise, laboratory skills)
  • Motivation letter, addressed to the REVAMP selection committee, explaining your motivation and suitability for the position, and your preference for one of the PhD positions
  • Contact details of at least two references (names, addresses, email adresses)
  • Reference letter from one of the references
  • Academic diplomas and certificates, scanned copies
  • Official academic transcript (i.e. documents enlisting your performance as BSc and MSc student over time by listing the course units or modules taken, credits gained and the grades awarded). If you have not completed your MSc degree yet include all grades obtained so far
  • English language skills certificate, for non-native English speakers

Vacancy questions

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Sicco Brandsma
Position: Assistant Professor
E-mail: sicco.brandsma@vu.nl

N.B. Applications should be uploaded by https://workingat.vu.nl/home. Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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