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Postdoctoral and PhD Positions in Chemical Biology – novel approaches to carbon dioxide assimilation

Deadline: 14.04.2020

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

NMBU has a special responsibility for research and education that ensures the basis of life for future generations.

Sustainability is rooted in everything we do and we provide knowledge for life.

NMBU has 1700 employees and 5200 students and is organized in seven faculties. NMBU has a campus in Ås and in Oslo. In the autumn of 2020 we are co-located on Ås. Further information on NMBU is available at www.nmbu.no.

About KBM

The KBM faculty is located at Ås Campus, 30 km south of Oslo, and has approximately 160 employees distributed in 11 research groups. We have a broad research portfolio in chemistry, bioinformatics, biochemistry, molecular biology and microbiology (see overview of research groups:


The research within the fields of fundamental and applied enzymology at KBM has evolved tremendously in the last 15 years and is now at the forefront of research in sustainable biotechnology. Ås Campus is beautiful, and Oslo is only a 28 minutes train ride away.

Further information:

About the position

The Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science (KBM) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has two vacant positions in a novel project on enzymatic CO2 reduction. Both the PhD student (3 years) and Postdoctoral (2 years) positions may be extended by one year.

The successful applicants will work on a project named “COOFIX – Evolving novel carbon dioxide reducing enzymes”. Our aim is to engineer metalloenzymes that reduce and assimilate CO2 and further shuttle the enzymatic products into anabolic pathways to generate biomass or valuable fine chemicals using CO2 as carbon feedstock.

The COOFIX project is funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and will run for 4 years. Altogether, at least 3 postdoctoral researchers, one PhD-student and several undergraduate students will work on the project, along with excellent national and international collaborators. The successful applicants are likely to stay for several months in collaborating US laboratories.

The project will be led by Associate Professor Åsmund Røhr Kjendseth. Our lab aims for high impact science in a in a nourishing working environment where mutual respect, collaboration, tolerance and a healthy work-life balance are valued.

The COOFIX project is highly interdisciplinary. To engineer novel enzymes that can fix CO2, we will combine directed evolution in the laboratory with state-of-the-art computational chemistry methods such as molecular dynamics simulations and quantum chemical calculations. Methods such as electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy and protein crystallography will be used alongside biochemical assays to evaluate engineered enzymes.

Metabolic engineering of bacteria will be performed to i) generate strains for efficient screening during directed evolution and ii) to establish metabolic pathways that can consume the products of the novel carbon dioxide reductases.

Main tasks

Depending on the individual qualifications of the successful applicants, at least three of the tasks listed below will be assigned to each of the successful applicants.

  • Identify enzyme candidates that are suitable to evolve into CO2 reducing enzymes (selection criteria are in place).
  • Express and purify enzymes.
  • Design experiments and carry out directed evolution to optimize certain enzyme activities.
  • Characterize enzymes by biochemical assays, stopped-flow rapid kinetics, X-ray crystallography, EPR spectroscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopy.
  • Model enzyme catalysis by quantum chemical methods (e.g. DFT) and molecular dynamics simulations (MD, QM/MM/MD, etc.).
  • Alter anabolic pathways in model organisms by metabolic engineering.

The PhD student to be employed must submit a PhD education plan to be approved by KBM within the first months of appointment and complete the PhD within the PhD scholarship period.

Both the PhD-student and Postdoctoral fellow will receive relevant training from the PI and the project partners.

Qualification requirements, desired experiences, knowledge and personal qualities

PhD student: 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 Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master's degree level. 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.

Required Academic qualifications

  • For the Postdoc: a PhD degree on a relevant subject.
  • For the PhD student: a MSc degree or equivalent on a relevant subject and grades that are sufficient to be admitted to NMBU’s PhD program (at least B as average grade for the MSc studies).
  • Both: Training and research experience in protein biochemistry and molecular biology.

One or more of the following additional experiences and skills will be emphasized:

  • Protein expression and purification
  • Enzyme engineering
  • Protein crystallography
  • Spectroscopy (EPR, Raman, X-ray)
  • Computational chemistry

Personal qualities:

  • The ideal candidates will combine (and be able to document) the following personal qualities. You are:
  • Curious and self-driven
  • Ambitious
  • Collaborative and tolerant
  • An empathic team player
  • A skilled communicator, orally and written, in English (candidates will be required to give a research presentation in English as part of the recruitment process).

Remuneration and information

Postdoctoral positions are placed in government pay scale position code 1352, wage framework 24 (salary grade 60-65) (NOK 532 300 – 583 900), depending on qualifications.

PhD student:

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD. Fellow. PhD. Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 479.600,-) 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 about the project or other questions, please contact:

General Information to applicants


To apply online for this vacancy, please go to www.jobbnorge.no, find the position, and click on the 'Apply for this job' button. 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. It is not needed to provide information in the online application form that is clearly visible in your CV, which you are supposed to upload. The CV and your letter are more important than the form. Please include contact details to 2-3 references.

Application deadline: 14.04.2020

Up to 5 publications selected by the applicant as most relevant should be attached to the application (if applicable). If it is difficult to identify the contribution of the applicant in multiple-author publications, a short explanation about the applicant’s part of the work is suggested.

Printed material which cannot be sent electronically should be sent by surface mail to Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, within 14.04.2020. Please quote reference number 20/01174

Applicants invited for an interview will be asked to present verified copies of diplomas and certificates.

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