Aalto University is where science and art meet technology and business. We shape a sustainable future by making research breakthroughs in and across our disciplines, sparking the game changers of tomorrow and creating novel solutions to major global challenges. Our community is made up of 13 000 students, 400 professors, and more than 4 500 other faculty and staff working on our dynamic campus in Espoo, Greater Helsinki, Finland. Diversity is part of who we are, and we actively work to ensure our community’s diversity and inclusiveness. This is why we warmly encourage qualified candidates from all backgrounds to join our community.
The School of Chemical Engineering is one of the six schools of Aalto University. It combines natural sciences and engineering in a unique way.
We are now looking for a
Doctoral Researcher in Wood Extractives Group
Synthetic UV filters are a health concern for humans and the environment, also affecting aquatic organisms as major sunscreen products wash into sea. Longer sunny periods along the climate change and increased UV radiation due to a thinner ozone layer, we urgently need new naturally derived UV absorbers. Wood-origin stilbenes have significant UV-absorbing capacity, but there is not enough scientific data to ensure their stability under UV radiation, so it requires a systematic study to suppress the undesired isomerization by building ultra‑stable, unsaturated cyclophanes and a cyclodextrin/stilbene complex. This may improve the stilbene stability 1000-fold without losing its UV-absorbing activity. The candidate will exploit wood processing side-streams, pine wood sawdust and spruce bark, as raw material for the sunscreen stilbenes. These materials are today merely burned for energy, but when using them as added-value chemicals, it could allow more income for forest owners and industry.
The Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems (BIO2), one of three departments in the School of Chemical Engineering at Aalto University, has an internationally leading reputation in basic and applied research for the development of advanced materials from natural resources. It is one of Europe’s leading research and higher education institutions in the field of sustainable chemistry and engineering based on the utilization of renewable resources.
BIO2 aims to contribute to the development of novel solutions to move towards sustainable primary production and processing systems that can produce materials with fewer inputs, less environmental impact, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Within bioscience, the department has research in bioprocess technology, molecular biotechnology, enzyme technology, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, biomolecular, and biohybrid materials. Other strengths of the department include sustainable materials and products based on lignocellulose, ranging from nanomaterials to novel cellulose-based textiles.
Your role and goals
The position is open in the Wood ExtractivesGroup (group website is under construction) headed by Academy Research Fellow Dr. Jinze Dou, which is part of the new Research Council of Finland (formerly known as the Academy of Finland) funded “2022 Academy Research Fellow” project FACE+. The group’s research interests focus on fundamental understanding of the challenges posed by wood extractives, particularly in the areas of wood yard and fiber line of the pulp mills, including pre-treatment techniques for “pulping” of the bark, characterization and (bio)chemical control of pitch/stickies deposits, and functionalization of the extractives for added-value biochemicals.
Trans-Stilbenes can be isomerized to their cis-isomers under sunlight, and the cis-isomers are prone to undergo a Mallory reaction yielding polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This preference is very hard to overcome as it is strictly under orbital symmetry control. The research will focus on functionalizing the recovered stilbene from pine wood sawdust and spruce bark as ultra-stable UV-filter alternatives for sunscreen. Specifically, the research will focus on primarily the synthesis work by building the ultra-stable cyclophanes and cyclodextrin/stilbene complex, thus suppressing the undesired isomerization completely. The research will utilize multiple techniques, such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), as well as single crystal X-ray diffractometer (SC-XRD) and other computational optimization methods like molecular docking calculations.
Your experience and ambitions
We are seeking a motivated candidate with a suitable master’s degree and expertise in Synthetic Organic Chemistry and have interest in wood chemistry in general. The candidate is expected to have good written and oral communication skills in English.
Doctoral studies at Aalto University take approximately four years. The candidate will be granted a one-year contract with the possibility of extension. The expected starting salary for a Doctoral Researcher is about 2540 €/month and will increase with responsibilities and performance over time.
The expected starting date of this position is in September 2023.
Our facilities are located at the Aalto University Otaniemi campus in Espoo, Finland. The employment contract includes occupational health care, and Finland has a comprehensive social security system. Aalto University provides excellent learning and development opportunities, and a commuter ticket benefit. Unisport offers versatile sports facilities and exercise services with a staff discount.
Ready to apply?
If you want to join our community, please submit your application through our online recruitment system no later than 1 August 2023 by using the link on Aalto University’s webpage (“Apply now”). If you are an Aalto employee, please apply via the Workday system (internal jobs).
To apply, please include the following documents in English and as a single pdf document:
1‑page motivation letter (including e.g., independent study skills, teamwork, previous expertise in doing laboratory-based experimental research, previous work/teaching experience (even if not in the field))
1‑page previous research experience (description of particularly your previous relevant research experience and studies)
1‑page assignment (describing the synthetic routes for the preparation of cyclic cyclophane- derivatives using resveratrol)
CV with a possible list of scientific publications and the title of your MSc thesis
Scanned copy of the master’s degree diploma & transcript of records for master’s degree (or equivalent)
For further information about the position, please contact Dr. Jinze Dou (jinze.dou(at)aalto.fi). In recruitment-related questions, please contact HR Partner Noora Katisko (noora.katisko(at)aalto.fi).
Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period, and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period.