PhD position - ABAA: Amide bond formation and hydrolysis: Developing adaptive and active materials

The livMats Cluster of Excellence is offering the following position:

PhD position: ABAA: Amide bond formation and hydrolysis: Developing adaptive and active materials
Part-time position (65 %), Start-date: 01 September 2021.

The Cluster of Excellence livMatS develops completely novel, bioinspired materials systems that adapt autonomously to various environments and harvest clean energy from their surroundings. The intention of these purely technical – yet in a behavioral sense quasi-living – materials systems is to meet the demands of humans with regard to pioneering environmental and energy technologies. The societal relevance of autonomous systems and their sustainability will thus play an important role in their development. The research program of livMatS is characterized by highly interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from a broad range of fields including engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, the humanities, and sustainability sciences.

Project description
Living systems possess overwhelming molecular complexity that largely results from combinations of just twenty amino acids. Inspired by such dynamics where molecular assemblies perform tasks that exceed the functionality of their basic constituents, systems chemistry focusses on connectedness, interactivity and patterns. Despite progress in the direction of peptide chemical networks, the manifestation and control of dynamics in these systems, by forming and breaking amide bonds remains a grand challenge. For the project ABAA, livMatS seeks for a highly motivated PhD candidate for the development of dynamic chemical networks using the building blocks of life. The aim of the project is to (i) construct the autonomous formation of self-assembling structures started from activated building blocks, targeting peptide oligomerisation (ii) characterize these systems in terms of composition, nanoscale architecture and supramolecular interactions and (iii) investigate whether addition of competitive building blocks and chemical energy (fuels) might offer peptide hydrolysis (disassembly) and dissipative functions. Unravelling the pathways and mechanisms that allow the formation and destruction of amide bonds will pave the way towards responsive peptide libraries. This strategy will further allow us to benefit from the rich chemistry of all the 20 natural amino acids but also expand towards hybrid and fully synthetic chemical systems which are linked with the chemical bonds that connect the proteins together.

Candidate Profile:
For this project interdisciplinary competences ranging from organic and analytical chemistry to supramolecular and systems chemistry are desirable. The potential PhD candidates are therefore expected to have a master with outstanding grades in one of the following fields (chemistry, polymer science, functional materials) and the strong willingness and provable competence to work interdisciplinary. Previous experience in one of the following areas (solid and solution phase peptide synthesis, dynamic covalent chemistry, spectroscopic techniques) is appreciated, but is not a requirement. In addition, strong competences in scientific presentations and writing (in English language) as well as well as team skills are expected from the successful PhD candidate as he/she will be part of a creative, productive and dynamic research team.

Please hand in:

  • Motivation letter detailing why you are interested in this specific project and how your previous research qualifies you for the project (up to 1,500 words)
  • Curriculum Vitae with list of publications (if applicable)
  • Certified copies of your university degree(s) with grades (BA and MA certificate / Diploma certificate and transcript)
  • Short summary of your master’s thesis (up to 1,000 words)
  • Work sample (chapter from recent thesis or journal article, up to 5,000 words)
  • Suggestion of two referees with contact details

Your documents will not be returned after the application process. For this reason, please submit copies only. This position is limited to 36 months. The salary will be determined in accordance with TV-L E13. We are particularly pleased to receive applications from women for the position advertised here.

Application
Please send your application including supporting documents mentioned above citing the reference number 00001625, by 18.07.2021. Send it as one single PDF file to the following address in written or electronic form:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Freiburger Zentrum für interaktive Werkstoffe
und bioinspirierte Technologien (FIT)
Dr. Monika Schulz
Georges-Köhler-Allee 105
D-79110 Freiburg
Kennwort: livMatS
E-Mail: positions@livmats.uni-freiburg.de

For questions about the project, please contact Dr. Charalampos Pappas at charalampos.pappas@livmats.uni-freiburg.de.