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PhD student in Microbial Electrochemical Conversion of Syngas

Chalmers University of Technology


Apply by January 31st 2019

Read more and apply here!

The project
The focus of the PhD student will be to study the production of ethanol by syngas fermenting bacteria, termed acetogens. Syngas is a mixture consisting primarily of CO, CO2, and H2 that is produced through gasification of many carbon-containing materials (e.g.: biomass, municipal waste and heavy industrial processes). 
The aim of the project is to understand how the fermentation of syngas affect acetogenic bacteria. This knowledge will be used to engineer more efficient and robust acetogenic strains. Acetogens benefit from utilizing inorganic carbon derived from syngas, and thus can fully exploit the carbon in the raw material, but many scientific challenges persist. Here, we focus on understanding the physiological and transcriptional effects on acetogens, caused by syngas and the inhibitors therein or by electrofermentation. Syngas electrofermentations, i.e. supplementing syngas fermentations with redox power in the form of electrical energy, is expected to enhance biofuel production rates and yields, as addition of external redox power has been shown to be an effective means to strengthen microbial tolerance and increase alcohol yields and production rates. We will improve syngas fermentation and stress tolerance of acetogens through genetic and evolutionary engineering.
The project is funded by The Swedish Energy Agency.

Major responsibilities
The main task of the PhD student will be to study acetogens during conversion of carbon-rich gases into ethanol. To aim is to develop a thorough understanding of the physiological and transcriptional effects on bacteria, caused by syngas and inhibitors therein or by electrofermentation.

As a PhD student you will be expected to carry out independent research in line with the project described above, including laboratory work, and manuscript writing. You will be expected to share knowledge with MSc students and other colleagues and collaboration partners.

Apart from the scientific objective the PhD student is expected to:
• take part in group responsibilities such as group meetings, literature presentations and floor duty
• take PhD student courses (60 ETCS is mandatory to obtain a PhD)
• present research at scientific meetings. 
• take part in teaching activities such as course lab duty.

Position summary
Full-time temporary employment, starting 1.4.2019 or according to agreement. The position is limited to four years.

The candidate must hold a MSc degree in Biotechnology/Bioengineering, Synthetic, Systems or Molecular Biology, Microbiology or other related disciplines. The successful candidate has knowledge on molecular biology and some lab practice as well as some knowledge in bioinformatics. Previous experience in working with RNA-sequencing data analysis, anaerobic bacteria or bioelectrochemistry is a strong merit.

Most importantly, the candidate is self-motivated, enthusiastic and creative. To be successful in this position, you need to be well-organized and able to drive and conclude projects independently, take own initiatives, discuss/develop own ideas and enjoy solving problems. The project is in collaboration with other researchers and thus excellent cooperation and social abilities are highly important. Good communication skills in English are required.