Novo Nordisk Foundation PhD student in Design and Upscaling of Pseudomonas Putida Fermentations for Robust Biomanufacturing

mandag 17 jun 19

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Frist 1. august 2019
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The Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark invites applications for a position as PhD in Design and Upscaling of Pseudomonas Putida Fermentations for Robust Biomanufacturing.

The position is part of the PhD Program within the Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing Initiative, funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The initiative is a collaboration between the DTU Departments Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Biosustainability. This position will be hosted at the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and is one of four PhD positions posted in this call.

This position will be placed in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, section Process and Systems Engineering (PROSYS Research Centre) focusing on mathematical modelling, development and optimization of industrial fermentations, biocatalysis, pharmaceutical and food production processes across different scales. The section has a total staff of approx. 60, of which 10 is faculty.

Responsibilities and tasks
Industrial fermentations pose a challenging environment to microbial production strains. Non-ideal mixing is a frequent phenomenon that restricts mass and energy transfer inside large-scale bioreactors. Substrates and oxygen may thus be limiting in one zone of the reactor, whereas product accumulation can impair cellular functions in another. As a result, low-performing subpopulations can emerge that affect the economic viability of the biomanufacturing plant. Pseudomonas putida is a versatile cell factory chassis that has been highlighted for its fast growth, favorable redox budget, and high stress tolerance. It is a proven host for heterologous and trans-metabolic pathway expression, for example, to produce valuable biofuels and biochemicals. Strains with a higher tolerance to oxygen limited conditions have lower aeration requirements and produce less biomass. This may contribute to a cost reduction and more stable operating regimes in large-scale reactors. To date, detailed insights on strain performance and physiological effects under scaling conditions remain scarce. The unique collaboration opportunity between DTU Chemical Engineering, DTU Biosustain, and Novozymes, will contribute to a deeper process understanding of P. putida based industrial fermentations, thereby paving the way for novel stress-tolerant cell factories in bio-based manufacturing.

The PhD candidate will work with functionalized P. putida strains from DTU Biosustain and will perform fermentation studies in lab to pilot scale reactors at DTU Chemical Engineering. In this frame, the effect of fluctuating dissolved oxygen concentrations on the physiology of P.putida will be investigated. The energy and redox status of the cells will be monitored by the biosensor currently developed at DTU Biosustain to measure intracellular ATP levels. Improved physiological and process models will be developed to describe single-cell behaviour under variable environmental conditions and the effects of scale.

Qualifications
Candidates should have a master's degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering.

We are looking for a candidate with a solid background in:
 

  • Microbial physiology, especially practical work with bacterial species
  • Knowledge in manipulation of Pseudomonas species will be positively evaluated
  • Running fermentations, preferably covering different scales (from lab to pilot)
  • Mathematical modelling (e.g. Matlab and Python)
We expect that you are an efficient team worker, have good communication skills, and have a critical approach to formulation and testing of hypotheses. Also, a good sense of humor will be appreciated.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide

Assessment
The assessment of the applicants will be made by Professor Dr. John Woodley and approved by an internal PhD assessment committee.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about 
career paths at DTU here

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Dr. John Woodley, email, or +45 45 25 28 85.

You can read more about DTU Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at 
www.kt.dtu.dk

Application
Please submit your online application no later than 1 August 2019 (local time)Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include: 
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)
Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The Novo Nordic Foundation initiative on “A research Based World-Class Joint Education Program in Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing” build on the increasing needs from industry for development and upgrading of specialised expertise in the field of fermentation. The educational programmes will be based on cutting edge research covering all aspects from fundamental physiology of production organisms/cell factories, synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to scale-up process technology, including downstream processing. These areas will be closely integrated and the programmes will be supported in close dialogue with relevant industry partners. DTU will hereby provide top-level candidates (MSc, PhD and continued education) and research-based expertise of high value to the biotechnological, chemical and pharmaceutical fermentation based biomanufacturing industries in Denmark.

The Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering is one of the largest departments at DTU and hosts 6 research centres. The department is leading in innovative research and teaching, ranging from fundamental engineering disciplines to applied bio-based manufacturing processes. Our mission is to address important societal challenges through sustainable technological solutions. Within this mission, the Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing initiative is strengthening the department’s focus on sustainable biological production systems. The department enjoys very close relations with international partners, and especially a wide range of industrial companies. DTU Chemical Engineering has approx. 240 employees, of which more than 1/3 is scientific staff and is expanding rapidly in 2019. The department is located at DTU Lyngby Campus. 

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.