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Doctoral Researcher in Wood Extractives Group

Employer
AALTO UNIVERSITY
Location
Finland (FI)
Closing date
2 Mar 2024

Aalto University is where science and art meet technology and business. We shape a sustainable future by making research breakthroughs in and across our disciplines, sparking the game changers of tomorrow and creating novel solutions to major global challenges. Our community is made up of 13 000 students, 400 professors, and more than 4 500 other faculty and staff working on our dynamic campus in Espoo, Greater Helsinki, Finland. Diversity is part of who we are, and we actively work to ensure our community’s diversity and inclusiveness. This is why we warmly encourage qualified candidates from all backgrounds to join our community.

The School of Chemical Engineering is one of the six schools of Aalto University. It combines natural sciences and engineering in a unique way.

We are now looking for a

Doctoral Researcher in Wood Extractives Group

Control of wood extractives plays a vital role in closing the water loops in pulp mills, thus helping the pulp and paper industry to achieve the “zero effluent” target. As there is no efficient way to remove them from the fiberline, extractives cause technical challenge for effluent closure. Wood extractives can create serious process problems, as they flow and accumulate in water forming pitch deposits. The extractives retained in the pulps may adversely affect the physiochemical properties of the products (surface energy, paper strength, etc.). Efficient removal of pitch deposits from the fiberline is currently hampered by the lacking knowledge of their full chemical characteristics and the exact formation mechanism of the pitch deposits. Particularly we lack a fundamental understanding on the solubility (phase equilibrium) and chemical reactivity of the wood extractives (i.e., with driving forces from temperature, pH, and pressure). Today these aspects can be better studied using modern analytical tools.

Scientific environment

The Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems (BIO2), one of three departments in the School of Chemical Engineering at Aalto University, has an internationally leading reputation in basic and applied research for the development of advanced materials from natural resources. It is one of Europe’s leading research and higher education institutions in the field of sustainable chemistry and engineering based on the utilization of renewable resources.

BIO2 aims to contribute to the development of novel solutions to move towards sustainable primary production and processing systems that can produce materials with fewer inputs, less environmental impact, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Within bioscience, the department has research in bioprocess technology, molecular biotechnology, enzyme technology, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, biomolecular, and biohybrid materials. Other strengths of the department include sustainable materials and products based on lignocellulose, ranging from nanomaterials to novel cellulose-based textiles.

Your role and goals

The position is open in the Wood Extractives Group headed by Academy Research Fellow Dr. Jinze Dou, which is part of the Industry and FinnCERES Jointly Funded project WEPitch. The doctoral candidate will also be co-supervised by professor Tapani Vuorinen, professor Tiina Nypelö, and professionals (experts) from Industry. The group’s research interests focus on fundamental understanding of the challenges posed by wood extractives, particularly in the areas of wood yard and fiber line of the pulp mills, including pre-treatment techniques for “pulping” of the bark, characterization and (bio)chemical control of pitch/stickies deposits, and functionalization of the extractives for added-value biochemicals. More information can be found on the research group website.

WEPitch research is designed to find ways to gain essential knowledge to understand, prevent and control deposits formation and improve the overall operation, revenue, and quality performance of the pulp and paper mill. The generated analytical data will provide a fundamental understanding of the challenges posed by wood extractives, which will generate knowledge on the further utilization of wood extractives in the context of one of FinnCERES’s key research themes “Future Biorefineries”. The research will utilize multiple techniques, such as gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS), high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), as well as quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) and other multimodal techniques like infrared photo-induced force microscopy (IR PIFM).

Your experience and ambitions

We are seeking a motivated candidate with a suitable master’s degree and expertise in analytical chemistry, biomass refining, and organic chemistry, in addition to interest in wood chemistry in general. The candidate is expected to have good written and oral communication skills in English.

Please check the eligibility and admission criteria at https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-options/doctoral-programme-in-chemical-engineering. Specifically, please pay attention to the mandatory required certificate of English language.

What we offer

If you are chosen for this position, you will apply for right to study doctoral studies at Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering. Doctoral studies at Aalto University take approximately four years. The candidate will be granted a one-year contract with the possibility of extension. The expected starting salary for a Doctoral Researcher is about 2600 €/month and will increase with responsibilities and performance over time.

The expected starting date of this position is in April 2024.

Our facilities are located at the Aalto University Otaniemi campus in Espoo, Finland. The employment contract includes occupational health care, and Finland has a comprehensive social security system. Aalto University provides excellent learning and development opportunities, and a commuter ticket benefit. Unisport offers versatile sports facilities and exercise services with a staff discount.

Ready to apply?

If you want to join our community, please submit your application no later than 2nd March 2024 through the “Apply” link.

Aalto University’s employees and visitors should apply for the position via the internal HR system Workday (keyword Find Jobs) by using their existing Workday user account (not via the external webpage for open positions).

We will process applications as they come in. The interviews may be started during the application period, and the position will be filled as soon as we find the right candidate.

To apply, please include the following documents in English and as a single pdf document. Your application will not be considered if your file package is not complete.

  • 1‑page motivation letter (including e.g., independent study skills, teamwork, previous expertise in doing laboratory-based experimental research, previous work/teaching experience (even if not in the field))
  • 1‑page previous research experience (description of particularly your previous relevant research experience and scientific publications if have)
  • 1‑page assignment (using text to describe the analytical techniques that you want to employ to determine the molecular-level composition of the extractives mixture that is extracted from the biomass. Also justify your choice of order based on the technique's suitability for the sample and the information sought, for example you can discuss factors like the literature searching, sample preparation needs, sensitivity, and the type of information each technique can provide (qualitative vs. quantitative analysis, molecular structure, etc))
  • CV with a possible list of scientific publications and the title of your MSc thesis
  • Scanned copy of both the bachelor’s and master’s degree diploma & transcript of records for both bachelor’s and master’s degree (or equivalent)
  • English language certificate if your case is applicable (visit the required language proficiency here https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-options/doctoral-programme-in-chemical-engineering)

For further information about the position, please contact Dr. Jinze Dou (jinze.dou@aalto.fi).

Want to know more about us and your future colleagues? You can watch these videos: Aalto University – Towards a better world, Aalto People, and Shaping a Sustainable Future. You can also check out our webpage about Aalto and Finland: https://www.aalto.fi/en/services/welcome-to-aalto-university-and-finland-info-package and our new virtual campus experience:  https://virtualtour.aalto.fi/.

About Finland

Finland is a great place for living with or without family – it is a safe, politically stable, and well-organized Nordic society. Finland is consistently ranked high in quality of life and was just listed again as the happiest country in the world: https://worldhappiness.report/news/its-a-three-peat-finland-keeps-top-spot-as-happiest-country-in-world/. For more information about living in Finland: For international staff | Aalto University 

Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period, and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period.

More about Aalto University:

Aalto.fi
youtube.com/user/aaltouniversity
linkedin.com/school/aalto-university/
www.facebook.com/aaltouniversity
instagram.com/aaltouniversity
twitter.com/aaltouniversity

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