Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest institutions of higher education with over 35,000 students and 4,200 faculty and staff. We are characterised by world-leading research in several scientific fields and a multitude of educations ranked highly in international comparison. Umeå University is also the site of the pioneering discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 genetic scissors - a revolution in genetic engineering that has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

At Umeå University, everything is nearby. Our cohesive campus environment makes it easy to meet, collaborate and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture where we rejoice in each other's successes.

We are seeking a PhD-student in chemistry who will be part of a project entitled Lignocellulose and Crustacean Chitin - from fractionation to building blocks for WWSC industry 2.0. where we aim to synthesize, characterize and explore different applications of various completely new types of chemicals and composites that combine cellulose or lignin to chitin/chitosan. Application deadline is 2019-04-15.

Project description

The project aims at contributing to the development of a sustainable society and its energy systems since the technologies targeted in this project should result in products replacing fossil resources with the molecules of nature. In general, one can classify that this project belongs to the area of chemical engineering, with elements of synthetic chemistry and adaptation to the green energy systems. A big challenge upon transformation of biomass to valuable chemical substances and energy-carrier molecules is coupled to the difficulty of solubilizing many of the biomacromolecules since they are often not soluble in water or common organic solvents. The fact that a number of ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents can solubilize nature’s molecules – cellulose, lignin or the whole plant or tree – is fascinating and renders it possible to rethink and adapt our energy system to a sustainable, cyclic economy.

Besides biorefining of biomacromolecules, we aim at coupling carbon dioxide to the structures via chemical reactions. The dream is that the carbon dioxide will in future be considered as a resource, not a waste. If we can produce fuels, packaging materials and other commodities more efficiently and if we can replace the fossil raw materials with natural ones, a transition to a green, sustainable society becomes possible.

Working tasks
This position as a doctoral student is part of a research project where we will develop new ionic liquid based technologies for dissolution and utilization of lignocellulose as well as chitin from the marine fauna. The goal is to transform these resources to valuable chemicals as well as general fractionation and processing of biomass. The work includes organic synthesis, characterization of the materials synthesized with a multitude of techniques (e.g. NMR, Gas Chromatography, DSC, Thermogravimetric Analysis, Karl Fischer titration etc.). Further, the goal is to understand the mechanisms behind biomass and carbon dioxide solubilization as well as their chemical transformation primarily in deep eutectic mixtures and ionic salt solutions.

The applicant should initially study solubilization and processing of biomass, characterize the properties of the obtained fractions and study their suitability for various practical applications (e.g. chemicals and composites). In particular, it is aimed at finding new ways to combine the components of biopolymers (cellullose, lignin, chitin, chitosane) and to find new synergies for these materials. The laboratory provides access to an excellent research infrastructure within the Chemical Biological Centre (KBC) environment ( with access to equipment related to chemical synthesis, high pressure reactors, chromatographic analysis instrumentation and solid-state/liquid NMR. The research will be carried out in an interdisciplinary environment.

Admission requirements
You are required to have completed a second- cycle level degree, or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an equivalent education from abroad, or equivalent qualifications.

To fulfil the specific entry requirements for doctoral studies in chemistry, you are required to have completed first-cycle courses of at least 90 ECTS credits within the field of chemistry, technical chemistry or another subject considered to be directly relevant to the specialization in question. Of those 90 ECTS credits, at least 15 ECTS credits shall have been acquired at second-cycle level within the specialization or an equivalent subject. Training and/or experience in process chemistry, industrial chemistry, organic synthesis chemistry, chemical engineering and / or material science is required.

You should have a keen interest in the field of in chemical engineering / industrial chemistry and be prepared to take on the scientific and technical challenges. Very good communication skills in English, both written and spoken is required. You should be creative, have good interpersonal skills, power of initiative and a high degree of independence. Previous practical experience in chemical laboratory work is desirable.

About the position
The position is intended to result in a doctoral degree and the main task of the PhD student is to pursue their doctoral studies which include both participation in research and postgraduate courses. The duties can include teaching and other departmental work (up to a maximum of 20%). Employment is limited to four years of full-time or up to five years for teaching part time. Salary is set in accordance with the established salary ladder for PhD position.

A complete application, written in Swedish or English, should contain the following documents:

  • A cover letter including a description of your research interests, your reasons to apply for the position, and your contact information
  • A curriculum vitae
  • A copy of completed BSc and/or MSc thesis and, if applicable, other research publications
  • Copies of degree certificates, including documentation of completed academic courses and obtained grades
  • Contact information of at least two reference persons

Applications must be submitted via our e-recruiting system. The last day to apply is 2019-04-15.

For more information please contact Prof. Jyri-Pekka Mikkola, phone: +46-70-6200371, email:

Information about us
The Department of Chemistry is one of the largest departments in the Faculty of Science and Technology, with over 200 employees, including about 40 doctoral students, and a strong and expanding research. Information about the postgraduate education can be found on the Faculty of Science and Technology website: For more information about working at Umeå University:

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type Full time
First day of employment By agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-449-19
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-786 53 65
  • SEKO, 090-786 52 96
  • ST, 090-786 54 31
Published 15.Mar.2019
Last application date 15.Apr.2019 11:59 PM CET

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