In the framework of the NWO-XL project ‘Environmental and genetic drivers of wood and lignin formation in flowering plants ’, the PhD candidate will collaborate with five other PhD candidates from WUR, Naturalis, RUG and LU. These are embedded in a novel multidisciplinary consortium uniquely bridging expertise in plant anatomy, evolution, development, physiology, genetics, molecular biology and lignin chemistry. The consortium will investigate different aspects of wood- and lignin formation in plants, including the gene regulatory network controlling the formation of wood/lignin, the role that this formation plays in drought tolerance, and the utilization potential of lignin from plant stems for the production of biobased materials.

In the group of Prof. Dr. P. J. Deuss the PhD candidate will study the effect increase woodiness/lignification that leads to drought resistance has on lignin structure and whether this allows a sustainable method to harvest high value lignin from waste streams of food crops. The activities include creating a model of the ‘ideal secondary cell wall’ predicting key structural and/or chemical features that promote good crop yield and drought resistance, while allowing good processability in terms of obtaining high quality lignin together with valuable carbohydrates for the biobased economy. The goal of the PhD research is to establish links between cell-wall and lignin structure and ease of separation of lignin from the other biomass components as well as testing these lignin as feedstock for bio-based chemicals and materials.

We are looking for a PhD candidate for this project. Your responsibilities will include:

  • studying the fractionation of lignified crops in custom made extraction setups and perform chemical analysis on feedstock (e.g. tomato stems) and product streams
  • active team participation within the consortium and within the research group. Sharing data and samples and reporting on the outcome of your work to a diverse team members with different knowledge backgrounds
  • prepare samples for testing at various applications at different consortium partners and aid in the analysis of samples that will come from other consortium members.


Your profile includes:

  • a Master’s degree with top grades in a relevant subject e.g. chemistry or chemical engineering
  • interest in the above indicated research fields
  • willingness to travel to consortium meetings and for long stays at partners (e.g. in Austria)
  • very strong command of English
  • previous experience with catalysis and organic chemistry and in particular in relation to biomass research and lignin chemistry are a plus
  • previous experience with relevant analytical techniques such as multidimensional NMR, HPLC, GC(MS) as well as handling of high pressure and temperature setups are a plus.


Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programs and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 36,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global center of knowledge.

A PhD position starting immediately is available in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. P. J. Deuss in the Green Chemical Reaction Engineering group of the Engineering & Technology Institute Groningen (ENTEG) at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. ENTEG seeks at performing excellent research and guiding directed at the integration of fundamental and engineering sciences.

Conditions of employment

We offer you following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth and final year
  • a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
  • a holiday allowance of 8% of gross annual income
  • an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
  • minimum of 29 holidays and additional 12 holidays in case of full-time employment.

The successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected. A PhD training program is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

The project start date is March-April 2023


Do you meet the qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

  • a letter of motivation (max. 2 pages)
  • a curriculum vitae
  • a list of publications (if any)
  • recommendation letter(s)
  • a certification of the English language proficiency.

Please submit your application until 30 November 11:59pm / before 1 December 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by clicking on button “Apply” below and filling in the application form.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply.


For information you can contact:

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.


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