PhD Position in Cell-water Structure and Dynamics

PhD Position in Cell-water Structure and Dynamics

Published Deadline Location
6 Mar 30 Jun Amsterdam

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Job description

Water in living cells contains a high concentration of biomolecules, that can significantly alter its properties (see There are even cells (bacterial spores, for instance) in which all chemistry is put to a standstill: these cells can survive for years in a dried-out, chemically 'frozen' state, from which they can recover completely and continue living as if nothing happened. The physical and chemical mechanisms underlying this suspended metabolism are still a mystery. In this PhD project, you will help to solve this mystery by using state-of-the-art experimental methods to investigate the structure and dynamics of water and proteins in living cells capable of surviving extreme circumstances, such as drought and thermal shock. Knowledge of how some cells manage to survive complete desiccation for such long periods of time can help to develop strategies for the dry, room-temperature storage of blood and vaccines (important for third-world countries), but potentially even for the dry storage of entire organisms. The project will be carried out at the University of Amsterdam, in cooperation with the Max-Planck Institute in Mainz.

What are you going to do?
You will use various methods to investigate the structure of water and proteins in living cells and model systems: time-resolved and two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy, terahertz and gigahertz spectroscopy, and different types of microscopic imaging. You will learn how to use these methods, how to analyze the results, and write articles and give presentations reporting on your results. This is an interdisciplinary research project, and you will be part of a team consisting of chemists, physicists and biologists.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You hold an MSc degree in chemistry, experimental physics, or a related field

Your experience and profile:
  • A background in physical chemistry, (preferentially experimental) physics, or biophysics
  • Willingness to learn new experimental and data-analysis techniques
  • Good communication skills in oral and written English.
  • Interest in collaborating with students and colleagues in within and outside the institute

Conditions of employment

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is as soon as possible. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,541 to € 3,247 (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Universities of the Netherlands is applicable.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer
  • a function in which initiative is strongly valued
  • an enthusiastic team that welcomes new members
  • an inspiring academic and international environment in the heart of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Science

This PhD position is shared between the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) and the Van der Waals-Zeeman Institute (WZI) for experimental physics, that are both part of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity-driven as well as application driven. At the WZI, scientists perform research in the areas of soft matter, quantum gases and quantum materials.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterized by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society. Here you can read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €2541 per month
  • University graduate
  • 10831


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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