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Apply by: 2022-06-15

PhD position within fermentation of keratinous waste substrate

Published 2022-05-05

About the position
The Faculty of Science and Technology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant PhD–position related to the development of fermentation processes for valorizing of low value keratinous biomass, such as feathers into high-value biomass. The PhD position is for a period of 3 years, or up to 4 years if teaching and other work duties are agreed.

The PhD position is part of the national Center for Industrial Biotechnology (SFI-IB; https://www.sintef.no/projectweb/sfi-industrial-biotechnology/). The PhD project relates to the Center’s focus on the industrial application of modern biotechnological methods, such as enzymes and microorganisms, for the production of a diverse range of commodities, including chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food and feed ingredients, detergents, textiles, energy and materials. This is a long-term project involving a consortium of 4 research organisations, SINTEF (host), NORCE, NTNU and NMBU and, 14 industrial partners.

This particular PhD project focuses on developing microbial and/or enzymatic conversion of feathers and other keratin-rich recalcitrant materials.

The PhD project aims at providing a detailed understanding on: (1) Which filamentous fungi and bacteria are able to degrade keratinous biomass? (2) What are the optimal process parameters for microbial and enzymatic conversion of feathers? (3) What are the key enzymes and can they be developed as industrial biocatalysts? (4) Can we monitor and optimize fermentation/digestion processes by online monitoring using vibrational spectroscopy?

Project and supervisor group
Assoc. Prof. Volha Shapaval, Prof. Achim Kohler, and Dr. Boris Zimmermann at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Prof. Vincent Eijsink and Prof. Svein Jarle Horn at the Faculty of Food Science and Biotechnology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway.

An application for a PhD position at NMBU is at the same time an application for admission to a PhD programme at the institution. The documentation that is necessary to ensure that the admission requirements are met must be uploaded as an attachment.

Main tasks
  • Screening of filamentous fungi and bacteria for keratinase activity
  • Performing growth experiments with feathers and related materials
  • Enzyme discovery, production and characterization
  • Monitoring fermentation/degradation of feathers by vibrational spectroscopy
The successful candidate is expected to enter a plan for the progress of the work towards a PhD degree during the first months of the appointment, with a view to completing a doctorate within the PhD scholarship period.

The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year master’s degree or a cand.med.vet. degree, with a learning outcome corresponding to the descriptions in the Norwegian Qualification Framework, second cycle. The applicant must have a master thesis which corresponds to at least 30 credits. Candidates submitting MSs thesis within 30. June 2022 may be considered. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description.

The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject.

Required Academic qualifications
  • Master in Biotechnology / Microbiology / Biochemistry
  • Fluent English both written and oral
  • Experience with research through a master thesis work
The following experiences and skills will be emphasized:
  • Experience in working with microorganisms (filamentous fungi and/or bacteria)
  • Experience in enzymology
  • Experience with infrared/Raman spectroscopy, or infrared/Raman imaging
  • Experience with multivariate data analysis (for example principal component analysis, partial least squares regression, artificial neural networks)
You need to:
  • be able to work both independently and in a multidisciplinary research team and needs to describe these skills in the application.
Remuneration and further information
The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017. PhD fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 491.200,-) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For further information, please contact Professor Volha Shapaval, E-mail: volha.shapaval@nmbu.no; phone +4798418248

(do not use this e-mail for application, it is only for questions)

To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline: 15.06.2022

In the application, the candidate must confirm that information and documentation (in the form of attachments) submitted via the job application can also be used by NMBU in a possible admission process.

Applicants invited for an interview are expected to present original diplomas and certificates.

The following documents must be attached to the application:
  • Motivation letter (maximum 1 page)
  • Complete CV 
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and certificates. (i.e. Di-ploma, transcript. Diploma supplement for both bachelor and master). Diplomas, transcripts and diploma supplements that are not in Norwegian or English must be uploaded in the original language. An English translation of these documents must also be attached.
  • Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement, or a similar document, which describes in detail the study program and grading system.
  • Documentation of proficiency in written and oral English in accordance with NMBU PhD regulation section 5-2 (3). 
  • Names and contact details for two references
  • Additional relevant documentation of professional knowledge (for example, list of scientific works). If it is difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution for publications with multiple authors, a short description of the applicant’s contribution must be included.
About The Faculty of Science and Technology
The Faculty of Science and Technology (REALTEK) develops research-based knowledge and educates civil engineers and lecturers needed to reach the UN's sustainability goals. We have approximately 150 employees, 70 PhD students and soon 1500 students. The education and research at REALTEK cover a broad spectrum of disciplines.

This includes data science, mechanics and process engineering, robotics, construction and architecture, industrial economics, environmental physics and renewable energy, geomatics, water and environmental engineering, applied mathematics as well as secondary school teacher education in natural sciences and use of natural resources such as in agriculture, forestry and aquaculture. The workplace is in Ås, 30 km from Oslo.

The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
NMBU has a particular responsibility for research and education that secures the basis for the life of future generations. Sustainability is rooted in everything we do and we deliver knowledge for life. NMBU has 1,900 employees of which about 300 phd scholarships and 6,700 students. The university is divided into seven faculties.

NMBU believes that a good working environment is characterised by diversity.

We encourage qualified candidates to apply regardless of gender, functional ability, cultural background or whether you have been outside the labour market for a period. If necessary, workplace adaptations will be made for persons with disabilities. More information about NMBU is available at www.nmbu.no.