University of Copenhagen offers a postdoc in nanobiotechnology and plant science

Postdoc in Nano-Biotechnology and Plant Science

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science at the University of Copenhagen is offering a Postdoc position in Nano-Biotechnology and Plant Science commencing 1 March 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The position is available for 4 years.

Description of the scientific environment

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences has a focus on plants, soil, microorganisms, animals, and the environment as a basis for sustainable production of food and other biological products. Research and teaching cover natural resources, agriculture, biotechnology, and synthetic biology from the molecular level to the ecosystem scale.

The advertised position is anchored in the Plant Nutrition research group where the main focus is on nutrient acquisition and utilization by higher plants and the functional properties of mineral elements in plant metabolism and productivity. The overall goal is to increase nutrient use efficiency by contributing to the development of new fertilization strategies, the latter incorporating nanotechnology and novel analytical tools for diagnosing the nutritional status of plants.

The successful candidate will be working in a large cross-disciplinary research project funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. In the project, a group of chemists, physicists, materials scientists, plant scientists, and agronomists from the University of Copenhagen, Technical University of Denmark, and McGill University in Canada will develop a novel generation of biocompatible and sustainable nanoparticle-based fertilizers with superior abilities to deliver mineral nutrient to crops in a timely and more resource-efficient manner. To achieve this very ambitious goal the researchers need to understand the pathways for nanoparticle uptake and how they interact with plant cells at the mechanistic level. This knowledge will allow researchers to tailor nanoparticles with smart properties to enhance nutrient uptake and utilization in metabolism.

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences is located in central Copenhagen at the Frederiksberg Campus. Copenhagen ranks among the most livable cities of the world and has several times been voted the number one capital in annual quality of life surveys.

Project background

Crops take up a minor fraction of most soil-applied nutrients. This wasteful practice burdens plant producers with costs, unnecessarily large carbon footprints, and eutrophication of the aquatic environment. Foliar fertilization bypasses chemical and microbial immobilization in the soil system and may therefore potentially eliminate most of the disadvantages linked to classical soil-based fertilization. Foliar fertilization is a well-established agricultural practice worldwide for a range of essential plant nutrients and crop species. However, for some nutrients, the efficiency remains very poor and for some crops, the procedure is so inefficient that foliar fertilization is little used. This includes crops of major economical importance across agriculture, horticulture, and forestry, which all have leaves covered by resistant and hydrophobic cuticles. In this project, we will explore these resistant pathways to circumvent them, by utilizing the most recent advances within plant biology, nanotechnology, and medical drug delivery. Using a highly interdisciplinary approach, we will develop a unique portfolio of foliar fertilizers that can penetrate leaf cuticles and facilitate targeted nutrient delivery to photosynthetically active tissue in crops, and thereby providing a breakthrough in productivity, sustainability, and climate friendliness of crop production.

Job description

  • Synthesis and characterization of biocompatible nanoparticles with smart properties to deliver essential mineral elements to crops
  • Tailor nanoparticle surfaces with properties allowing targeted delivery and programmed release of mineral elements to key entry points in metabolism
  • Study leaf surface barriers, cellular internalization, and dissolution of nanoparticles at the micro-and nanoscale using a range of mineral elements bioimaging techniques such as LA-ICP-MS, X-ray techniques, Confocal and Electron Microscopy.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration with other research group members
  • Draft scientific papers related to your research project
  • Plan outreach activities to promote your scientific research to a wider audience
  • Contribute to teaching activities, as part of your academic career training

Formal requirements

The University of Copenhagen is looking for a highly motivated and conscientious candidate, with a strong interest in cross-disciplinary science. Applicants for the Postdoc position should ideally meet the following specific requirements:

• A Ph.D. degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology or Plant Science
• Strong hands-on competencies in experimental chemistry and biochemistry
• Experience with organic and/or inorganic chemical synthesis
• Experience with state-of-the-art nanoparticle characterization 
• Strong communication (excellence in written and oral English) and interpersonal skills

Further information on the Department can be found at https://www.science.ku.dk/english/about-the-faculty/organisation/. For specific information about the position, please contact Professor Søren Husted, shu@plen.ku.dk.

The position is open from 1 March 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Please include

  • Cover Letter, detailing your motivation and background for applying
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Diplomas (Master and Ph.D.)
  • Complete publication list
  • Separate reprints of 3 particularly relevant papers

The deadline for applications is 1 February 2022, 23:59 GMT +1.

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee.

You can read about the recruitment process at https://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/.