PhD student position within WWSC: lignin chemistry and its engineering

Ref REF 2023-0535

Lignin is the second-largest resource component derived from wood. This often underutilized resource can be harnessed to produce a range of valuable bioproducts from plastics to nanopartiles to carbon materials, playing pivotal roles in the biorefinery process. We are actively seeking a motivated Ph.D. student to join an interdisciplinary group in Forest products and Chemical engineering, primarily focusing on the valorization of lignin resources. In this project, the Ph.D. student will work on the development of green chemical ways to obtain versatile and uniform lignin building blocks, which can then be converted into advanced renewable materials, specifically polymeric foams. This project will be performed in a highly collaborative set-up within Chalmers and Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC).

Information about the division and the department
Wallenberg Wood Science Center (WWSC) is a research center striving for scientific excellence with a focus on new materials from trees. The center creates knowledge and builds competence for an innovative and sustainable future value creation from forest raw materials. WWSC is a multidisciplinary collaboration between KTH, Chalmers, and Linköping University. The base is a donation from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the forest industry is supporting WWSC via the national platform Treesearch.
At the Forest Products and Chemical Engineering in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, we have a long tradition of multidisciplinary approach to valorization of forest biomass ranging from chemistry and technology of traditional pulping processes to novel routes of separating, fractionating and functionalizing forest biomass components in the spirit of biorefinery and biomaterials development. Extensive collaborations with forest industry and WWSC strengthen the collaborative environment and facilitate access to extensive research infrastructure.

This project focuses on green chemical engineering techniques for converting heterogeneous lignin into versatile and uniform lignin building blocks, followed by the development of polymeric foams. A critical aspect of this work involves structural characterization (e.g., molecular weight and chemical functional groups). The utilization of quantitative structure-property relationship modelling will be an integrated part in this work. The project may also encompass a comprehensive life cycle assessment to evaluate the environmental impacts of obtained materials. WWSC provides a network for collaboration with other researchers who are experts in different areas.

Major responsibilities
As a Ph.D. student, the main part of your working time will be devoted to your research project, where you will be responsible for planning, performing experiments, and evaluating your experimental work. You will also be expected to communicate your results in different settings, from meetings with supervisors and collaborators to presentations at the research division and international conferences. Moreover, you will be expected to develop your scientific writing skills by authoring articles for publication in scientific journals.
You will also contribute to teaching on the undergraduate level by leading and supervising laboratory sessions, projects and tutorials, corresponding up to 20% of your time. You will be dedicated to courses related to your research field and general academic skills/knowledge. As a member of the Wallenberg Wood Science Center, you are also obligated to participate in the Wallenberg Wood Science Center Academy courses and activities, which take place at different locations in Sweden and the Nordic Countries.

The successful candidate needs to have a Master's degree in Material Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science or equivalent. Laboratory experience in organic chemistry, biomass processing, analytic chemistry, and materials processing, as well as experience in multidisciplinary work, are meritorious. Good communication skills in English and good collaboration skills are required for this project.

To qualify as a PhD student, you must have a master's level degree corresponding to at least 240 higher education credits in a relevant field.

The position requires sound verbal and written communication skills in English. If Swedish is not your native language, Chalmers offers Swedish courses.

Contract terms
Full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of five years.

We offer
Chalmers offers a cultivating and inspiring working environment in the coastal city of Gothenburg
Read more about working at Chalmers and our benefits for employees.

Chalmers aims to actively improve our gender balance. We work broadly with equality projects, for example the GENIE Initiative on gender equality for excellence. Equality and diversity are substantial foundations in all activities at Chalmers.

Application procedure
The application should be marked with Ref 20230559 and written in English. The application should be sent electronically and be attached as PDF-files, as below. Maximum size for each file is 40 MB. Please note that the system does not support Zip files.

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name, Ref. number)
• CV
• Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust.
• Two references that we can contact.

Personal letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name, Ref. number)
1-3 pages where you:
• Introduce yourself
• Describe your previous experience of relevance for the position (e.g. education, thesis work and, if applicable, any other research activities)
• Describe your future goals and future research focus

Other documents:
• Copies of bachelor and/or master’s thesis.
• Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, e.g. TOEFL test results.

Please use the button at the foot of the page to reach the application form. 

Application deadline: 2023-11-30

For questions, please contact:
Liyang Liu, Assistant professor, Forest Products and Chemical Engineering

*** Chalmers declines to consider all offers of further announcement publishing or other types of support for the recruiting process in connection with this position. *** 

Chalmers University of Technology conducts research and education in engineering sciences, architecture, technology-related mathematical sciences, natural and nautical sciences, working in close collaboration with industry and society. The strategy for scientific excellence focuses on our six Areas of Advance; Energy, Health Engineering, Information and Communication Technology, Materials Science, Production and Transport. The aim is to make an active contribution to a sustainable future using the basic sciences as a foundation and innovation and entrepreneurship as the central driving forces. Chalmers has around 11,000 students and 3,000 employees. New knowledge and improved technology have characterised Chalmers since its foundation in 1829, completely in accordance with the will of William Chalmers and his motto: Avancez!


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