4 PhD candidates in Industrial Sustainable Chemistry

Faculty of Science – Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences

Publication date
4 December 2017
Level of education
Salary indication
€2,222 to €2,840 gross per month
Closing date
15 December 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

This project is funded by NWO, Technology Area (TA) Program of Innovatiefonds Chemie, Avantium and LEGO.

The Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of the eight institutes of the Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Sustainable Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.

Project and Job description

The group Industrial Sustainable Chemistry is headed by prof. Gert-Jan Gruter and is part of the Sustainable Chemistry theme of HIMS. The group operates in close collaboration with industry. The PhD candidates will work in the Avantium lab’s located in MATRIX VI at the Amsterdam Science Park (next to HIMS location).

The general aim of the group is the development of synthetic strategies for new and existing building blocks for sustainable materials with a focus on those that have large scale application potential. In addition, the group develops novel sustainable plastics produced from bio-based and CO2-based building blocks, a challenge that we approach in a multidisciplinary fashion. Important issues when developing building blocks with bulk application potential is competitiveness on cost and, when new, also performance advantages.

This requires:

  • cheap feedstock (typically sugars or CO2 derived monomers),
  • efficient and selective polymerization to (high performance) plastic materials.
  • polymer properties that meet (currently unmet) industry/brand/consumer needs in packaging (film, bottles, thermoforms, etc), fibers (textiles, carpets, tire-cord, etc.) and injection molding/thermoforming applications.
  • improved end-of-life versus existing materials such as re-use and recycling and (bio)degradation (in the environment).

We have 5 PhD positions available for exciting applied research projects in close collaboration with industrial partners LEGO, Avantium and others. PhD 4 will work in close collaboration with and partly at the UVA IBED institute (Dr Albert Tietema and Dr John Parsons). A 5th PhD candidate within this project will work at the UVA Psychology Department (Dr Frenk van Harreveld) in collaboration with the University of Leiden (Prof Bas Haring) to investigate consumer behavior and communication strategies with respect to sustainable materials.

We are currently exploring various new polyester materials from sustainable sugar or CO2-based building blocks (monomers). In the next 5 years we want to develop scalable process options for a series of novel polymer materials that can compete on price and performance and have better end-of-life performance when ending up in nature.

  • PhD1: Developing (modified) monomer options (e.g polymerizable esters) and polyester synthesis strategies. Developing recipes for polymerization scale-up for polymers developed by PhD2 and PhD3.
  • PhD2: Developing polyesters for injection molding applications (in close collaboration with LEGO as an industrial partner).
  • PhD3: Developing polyesters for packaging (Film, bottle) and fiber applications (in close collaboration with AVANTIUM as an industrial partner).
  • PhD4: Identifying/developing novel polymer (and monomer) biodegradation testing assays for handling large numbers of samples and developing a fundamental understanding of the effect of the environment (soil, sediment, freshwater, marine), environmental parameters (pH, EC, temperature, light) and the effect of molecular parameters (molecular weight, Tg, Tm, crystallinity, etc) on polymer (bio)degradation (in close collaboration with IBED at the UVA).

The PhD candidates should be creative thinkers that like challenging projects.

PhD1, PhD2 and PhD3 candidates preferably have a background in organic synthesis (and catalysis), with an affinity for materials and applied research and with interest to use analytical methods (e.g. NMR, GC/LC-MS, DSC, TGA, GPC, etc.) as well as polymer performance evaluations.

PhD4 candidate preferably has a background in biotechnology or biogeochemistry and should have affinity with method/assay development. Experience in polymer materials and high throughput assay development and application is preferred.

The selection process commences immediately, but will close when suitable candidates have been found. 


A MSc degree in chemistry with a substantial (organic) chemistry/ polymer chemistry component is required (PhD1, PhD1 and PhD3). Applicants with experience and affinity in biotechnology and biogeochemistry as well as high throughput testing (PhD4) have a clear advantage. The ability to collaborate and adapt in an international team is required and candidates must possess good communication skills in oral and written English. Due to limitations in recruitment budget we will preferably consider candidates that are currently in Europe.

Further information

For further information, please contact: 


Positions are available starting from 1 January 2018, and we will recruit until all positions have been filled.
The candidate will be appointed full-time at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) on a temporary base for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,222 in the first year to €2,840 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD candidates. This is excl. 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end of year bonus.. The Collective Labour Agreement (cao) for Dutch universities is applicable.

Job application

Applications for the position at the University of Amsterdam may only be submitted by sending your application to application-science@uva.nl. To process your application immediately, please quote vacancy number 17 613 and the position (PhD1, PhD1, PhD3 or PhD4) you are applying for in the subject-line.

Applications must include a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a motivation letter (why did you choose to apply for this position), and the name(s) and contact details of one or two academic referees. All these should be grouped in one PDF attachment.

The selection process commences immediately, but will close when suitable candidates have been found. Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Published by  University of Amsterdam