Post doctoral Research Fellow, School of Biosystems and Food Engineering

Dublin, Leinster (IE)
€39,522 - €45,610 per annum
16 Sep 2022
End of advertisement period
07 Oct 2022
Contract Type
Full Time

Applications are invited for a temporary post of a UCD Post-doctoral Research Fellow Level 1 within School of Biosystems and Food Engineering.

The UCD Algae Group is seeking a motivated and qualified postdoctoral research scientist (PD) to work in an Irish Research Council funded project (MicroLysis) to investigate the architecture of microalgae cell walls under different growth conditions and to develop tailored enzymatic methods for cost-effective and targeted cell disruption. The PD will be jointly based in the UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering and UCD Conway Institute and supervised by Dr. Ronald Halim (

This is a research focused role, where you will conduct a specified programme of research supported by research training and development under the supervision and direction of a Principal Investigator. The primary purpose of the role is to further develop your research skills and competences, including the processes of publication in peer-reviewed academic publications, the development of funding proposals, the mentorship of graduate students along with the opportunity to develop your skills in research led teaching.

Microalgae can play a critical role in the global effort to circularise CO2, bioremediate wastewaters and produce sustainable biofuels and food/feed/pharmaceutical products Microalgal products are mostly intracellular in nature and can only be made accessible after liberation from cell-wall encapsulation. The cell walls of industrially promising microalgae genera (such as omega-3 rich Nannochloropsis and protein-rich Chlorella), however, are comprised of multilayered biopolymers that confer the cells with formidable defence against external processing. The high-energy requirements and degradative nature of mechanical cell disruption to release intracellular products remains a critical barrier to microalgae commercialisation. Enzyme treatment is an attractive alternative to mechanical cell disruption due to its low-energy requirements and substrate-specific nature limiting product degradation, but the high-cost of purified enzymes makes this treatment commercially prohibitive especially for production of low-value products. MicroLysis aims to develop a low-cost enzymatic cell-disruption for the scalable fractionation of Chlorella and Nannochloropsis biomass.

The project will achieve this overall aim by a) comprehensively investigating the ultrastructure of microalgae cell walls, and b) using these insights to design enzyme treatments that are specifically tailored to the wall structure and thus minimise enzyme requirements. In addition, the project will also examine novel methods for inducing autolysis (or self-lysis) in microalgae to enable further reduction in the level of commercial enzyme requirements.

The specific objectives of the PD position are:

  • To use advanced biochemical, physical and microscopic methods to study the ultrastructure of microalgae cell walls (Nannochloropsis sp. and Chlorella sp.) and monitor how these models change under different conditions (autotrophic, mixotrophic and heterotrophic)
  • To use the cell-wall models developed above to design and optimise low-cost enzymatic cocktail treatments that are specifically tailored to the cell walls of the investigated species.
  • To study the biological mechanisms for microalgae autolysis and develop methods to induce the phenomenon at industrial scale.

The PD scientist will be working together with two PhD students to be recruited for the project to achieve the above objectives. The project will have access to core technologies in genomics, microscopy, flow cytometry, and chromatography at UCD Conway Institute.

POST DOC LEVEL 1 Salary Range: €39,522 - €45,610 per annum.

Appointment on the above range will be dependent upon qualifications and experience.

Closing date: 17:00hrs (local Irish time) on 7th of October 2022.

Applications must be submitted by the closing date and time specified. Any applications which are still in progress at the closing time of 17:00hrs (Local Irish Time) on the specified closing date will be cancelled automatically by the system. UCD are unable to accept late applications. UCD do not require assistance from Recruitment Agencies. Any CV's submitted by Recruitment Agencies will be returned. Prior to application, further information (including application procedure) should be obtained from the Work at UCD website: