PHD Rijksuniversiteit Groningen 30-04-2024

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PhD positions on Supramolecular Approaches to Improve RNA Stability (2 x 1.0 FTE) (V24.0254)

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Job description

We are looking for two PhD candidates for a joint project between the groups of Prof. , Prof. Wesley Browne, and Prof. Nathalie Katsonis, that will be carried out within the framework of the Growth Fund initiative "Big Chemistry" ( ). The program 'Big Chemistry' has received over 90 million euros from the National Growth Fund to position the Netherlands as a global leader in chemical robotics combined with artificial intelligence. In this context, it becomes possible to collect large datasets on properties of molecular systems.

The core scientific challenge that will be addressed within this case study is the stability of RNA strands in water. RNA is well-known to be unstable in aqueous solutions, which is why, e.g., RNA vaccines, have to be stored at quite low temperatures. RNA degradation in water at room temperature is primarily driven by intramolecular transesterification, that leads to the cleavage of phosphodiester bonds and fragmentation of the RNA chain. It has been hypothesized that this intermolecular transesterification can occur only in specific conformations.

You will investigate this hypothesis systematically, and you will develop supramolecular strategies to control RNA conformation reversibly. Additionally, you will explore the correlation between RNA conformation and its catalytic properties. Ultimately, the outcomes of this research in chemistry will provide supramolecular solutions to pressing healthcare challenges.

The position we are offering will be within the Research Laboratories of Prof. , and will be embedded in the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry.

The Stratingh Institute home to talented molecular chemists, including an active Nobel laureate in chemistry. Its mission is to perform excellent research and provide excellent education in chemistry. By placing emphasis on obtaining fundamental insights into molecular and supramolecular processes, the institute strives to (1) develop synthetic methods toward functional molecules and versatile building blocks, (2) realize new materials to meet the sustainability challenge, and (3) pursue innovative approaches to study, control, and mimic the processes that govern life. The impact analysis shows that the institute operates within the top-30 of chemistry institutes worldwide.

The University of Groningen is a research university with a global outlook, deeply rooted in Groningen, City of Talent. Groningen is the lively capital of The Northern Netherlands with a high quality of life and affordable living conditions. The university has 34.000 students in BSc and MSc programs, 4.400 PhD students, and 4.600 staff members. Our students and staff come from all around the world. Quality has been our top priority for over four hundred years, and with success: The University is currently in or around the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.


We are looking for candidates who meet the following requirements:

  • a MSc degree in chemistry or a related field
  • enthusiastic and a team player
  • excellent grades
  • creativity, determination and motivation.

Experience in organic chemistry, automated systems and/or nucleic acids is a plus.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see University of Groningen's English Language Requirements for details


Conditions of employment

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth and final year, based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
  • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
  • an 8.3% year-end bonus
  • a position for four years; you will get 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 a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected
  • a university PhD training program is part of the agreement and the successful candidates will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering. This training program will be completed with training on artificial intelligence and automatization in chemistry, under the umbrella of the "Big Chemistry" Foundation.

The starting date is flexible, but must be before March 2025.


Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, you are requested to upload the following documents:

  • a motivation letter stating your motivation to apply for the position and your key qualities relevant for this position
  • an up-to-date curriculum vitae
  • diplomas (BSc and Msc) and transcript of records
  • contact information of two academic references.

You may apply for this position until 1 September 11:59pm / before 2 September 2024 Dutch local time (CEST) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Prof. , t.kudernac
  • Prof. Wesley Browne, w.r.browne
  • Prof. Nathalie Katsonis, n.h.katsonis

Vacature eisen



FunctietitelAssistant Professor
Indicatie salaris (min – max]onbekend – onbekend
Aantal uren (min – max)1 – 40
Contactgegevensonbekend , onbekend onbekend
Type contractTijdelijk
LocatieGroningen, Groningen,Nederland
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