PhD Position in the Norwegian Seaweed Biorefinery Platform

Trondheim, Norway
Jul 10, 2020
End of advertisement period
Aug 17, 2020
Contract Type
Full Time

About the positions

The Norwegian Seaweed Biorefinery Platform (SBP-N) is looking for two candidates to be hired for three-year PhD positions. The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway and hosted by the Norwegian biopolymer laboratory (NOBIPOL) at the Department of Biotechnology and Food Sciences, NTNU. NOBIPOL is a multidisciplinary research group within NTNU devoted to the field Biopolymer Engineering, with focus on the science and technologies of marine polysaccharides. Based on more than 60 years of continuous research in the field, NOBIPOL possesses competence and experience in all aspects related to science and technology of marine polysaccharides. The current activities of NOBIPOL take place in close collaboration with the Department of Physics and the Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine at NTNU, as well as SINTEF, other national and international research organisations and industry.

Norway is in a unique position regarding marine biomasses and these resources play an important role in our economy. Increased utilisation of seaweed for food, feed and biobased materials is expected to play an important role in a future sustainable bioeconomy, and Norway is in an excellent position to have a key role in this area. However, the potential for value creation based on seaweed is currently underexploited, and there is a need for the development of new enabling technologies for realizing this potential. A key element in SBP-N is to establish a biorefinery process for the fractionation, isolation, and modification of targeted and consolidated products from seaweed. The PhD candidates will collaborate on some aspects of the projects and will interact with the Norwegian NMR Platform at NTNU. The supervisor for both candidates will be Prof. Finn L. Aachmann.

For both PhD-positions, the main objective is to qualify the applicants for future work in research positions in industry or academia. The qualification requirement is that you have completed a master’s degree or second degree (equivalent to 120 credits) in biotechnology, process chemistry or equivalent education with a grade of B or better in terms of NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic foundation. If you are unable to meet these criteria you may be considered only if you can document that you are particularly suitable for education leading to a PhD degree.

You will report to Professor Finn L. Aachmann

Duties of the position

PhD#1: Development of initial pre-processing and processing steps for the biorefinery of seaweed. The candidate will also develop chemoenzymatic extraction and fractionation methods for targeted and consolidated end-products like laminarin, fucoidan, alginate, cellulose and protein/peptides as well as other molecules. Purified products will be analysed with relevant analytical techniques like HPLC, SEC-MALS and NMR. Chemoenzymatic modifications of selected products for applications in food, medicine or other industry.

PhD#2 Identification and characterization of novel enzymes that utilize sulphated polysaccharide substrates (fucoidans and carrageenans). The candidate will use sulphated polysaccharide active enzymes to characterize the structure of sulphated polysaccharides, as well as utilizing the different sulphated polysaccharides as substrates to characterize the activity of the enzymes. The candidate is also expected to take part in bioactive characterization of the isolated sulphated polysaccharides.

Required selection criteria

For PhD #1:

  • MSc in Biotechnology, Chemical engineering or equivalent with good grades
  • Documented practical experience with analytical techniques and working in laboratory environment
  • Documented excellent oral and written English skills

Skills that will be an advantage:

  • Experience with processing of seaweed or handling polysaccharides
  • Chemoenzymatic processes
  • Strong documented experience in analytical chemistry, preferable on polysaccharides (e.g. HPLC, IR, MS, SEC-MALS, NMR, SEC)
  • Relevant practical experience
  • Experience with biorefining and product development
  • Knowledge of a Scandinavian language

For PhD #2:

  • MSc Biotechnology, Molecular biology, Polysaccharide chemistry or Structural Biology.
  • Practical and theoretical knowledge of cloning, recombinant protein expression, polysaccharide chemistry and/or enzymatic modification of polysaccharides
  • Documented excellent oral and written English skills

Skills that will be an advantage:

  • Experience with analytical chemistry methods (e.g. FPLC, CD, FS, ITC, NMR, X-ray)
  • Experience with enzyme chemistry, protein production and purification and protein science
  • Competence with computer based analytical tools
  • Relevant practical experience
  • Knowledge of a Scandinavian language

Personal qualities

The applicants should be motivated, creative and ambitious, with a strong ability to work problem-solution orientated both in teams and independently. The applicants should be genuinely interested in scientific research and its industrial applications as well as scientific dissemination.

In the evaluation of which applicant is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability, in terms of the qualification requirements specified in this position announcement.

The appointment is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants and national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant.

We offer

  • exciting and stimulating tasks in a strong international academic environment
  • state of the art genetics lab, rheology lab, carbohydrate characterization lab and NMR lab
  • applied research in an area with a growing national and international industry
  • an open and inclusive work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • employee benefits

Salary and conditions

PhD candidates are remunerated in code 1017, and are normally remunerated at gross from NOK 479 600 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Biotechnology ( within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English or Scandinavian language. Together with the application we request an up to one page "Personal motivation letter" for the position.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available on the application deadline. You should ensure that your application states which position you are applying for and shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above. 

The application must include:

  • CV, certificates and diplomas
  • Academic works - published or unpublished - that you would like to be considered in the assessment
  • Name and address of three referees
  • Up to one page "Personal motivation letter" for the position

Joint works will be considered. If it is difficult to identify your contribution to joint works, you must attach a brief description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal suitability.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

A good work environment is characterized by diversity. We encourage qualified candidates to apply, regardless of their gender, functional capacity or cultural background. 

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must always adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

Information Act (Offentleglova), your name, age, position and municipality may be made public even if you have requested not to have your name entered on the list of applicants.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Prof. Finn L. Aachmann, email:

Please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Diploma Supplement is required to attach for European Master Diplomas outside Norway. Chinese applicants are required to provide confirmation of Master Diploma from China Credentials Verification (CHSI).

If you are invited for interview you must include certified copies of transcripts and reference letters. Please refer to the application number NV-80/20 when applying

Application deadline: 17.08.2020

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Biotechnology and Food Science

Our activities contribute to increased exploitation of existing and new ingredients for sustainable food production as well as next-generation energy solutions and medical technology. We educate graduates for a wide range of careers in industry, public administration and academia. The Department of Biotechnology and Food Science is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

Deadline 17th August 2020
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime (2 jobs)
Duration Temporary
Place of service Gløshaugen

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