Funded PhD Position: Microbiology PhD position available in the NXTGENWOOD project

Converting lignin-based breakdown products and wood derived sugars into value added products using microbial biotechnology

Supervisors:

Dr Tanja Narancic - School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and BiOrbic SFI Bioeconomy research centre, University College Dublin, Ireland.
Prof Kevin O’Connor - School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and BiOrbic SFI Bioeconomy research centre, University College Dublin, Ireland.

Project description:

NXTGENWOOD is a collaborative project between multiple Irish universities UCD, TCD, and UCC and Science Foundation Ireland research centre AMBER and BiOrbic. NXTGENWOOD is funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture food and marine.
Lignin: Lignin is one of the most abundant polymers in the natural world. It is part of a complex of polymers found in plants from trees to grasses. Lignin is a protective polymer for the sugar-based polymer cellulose. Lignin is a complex polymer composed of a variety of phenolic compounds. Sugars present in cellulose and hemicellulose polymers found in wood and other plant matter are contaminated with lignin and phenols when the woody biomass is processed to release the fibres. The conversion of lignin-based breakdown products and sugars contaminated with lignin/phenols to organic acids is challenging but it can bring new routes and products of value to society.
Microbial biotechnology: The ability of microorganisms to consume and grow in the presence of lignin breakdown products is a major challenge and requires synthetic biology and bioprocess development to build a robust microbial biotechnology.
4 year PhD Project: The PhD project will investigate the ability of microorganisms to convert phenols present in lignin to organic acids. Microorganisms will be tested as wild type strains but also designed using synthetic biology to improve their performance. Fermentor based strategies will also be undertaken to optimise substrate consumption and product formation.

Studentship details: 

Funding: The PhD project is part of a Department of Agriculture food and marine funded project with collaboration across multiple research partners in Ireland. The successful candidate will be enrolled in a 4-year structured PhD programme in School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and a member of BiOrbic’s Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT).
The studentship will begin in 2021. The studentship will cover tuition fees and an annual stipend (€18,000).  Only EU/EAA/UK residents should apply


Supervisor details:

Prof Kevin O’Connor,  UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, University College Dublin, Ireland.https://people.ucd.ie/kevin.oconnor
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=qjcOTHcAAAAJ&hl=en

Dr Tanja Narancic, UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science, University College Dublin, Ireland.
https://people.ucd.ie/tanja.narancic
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=7N3JMUAAAAAJ&hl=en

Requirements:

Candidates for this position should have a MSc degree or BSc degree (minimum 2:1 honours or equivalent) in Microbiology. It is desirable but not essential that candidates have bioreactor (fermentation) experience.

Apply:

Candidates should contact both Prof. Kevin O' Connor and Tanja Narancic (e-mail: kevin.oconnor@ucd.ie, Tanja.narancic@ucd.ie) with a cover letter and CV, including the names of two academic references. Closing date April 2nd 2021.

UCD is one of Europe's leading research-intensive universities; an environment where undergraduate education, masters and PhD training, research, innovation and community engagement form a dynamic spectrum of activity.

BiOrbic is Ireland’s national bioeconomy research centre. We pursue excellence in research, new discovery and innovation for the development of a sustainable, circular bioeconomy. BiOrbic’s core funding comes from Science Foundation Ireland. We also run projects receiving EU funding under programmes such as Horizon 2020 and multiple national funding bodies such as the Irish Department of Agriculture Food and Marine (DAFM).