PhD fellowship in Plant Glycobiology and Biotechnology

Section of Plant Glycobiology, PLEN, invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in cellulose nanofiber based biocomposites, a joint project with the Danish Technical University (DTU) and Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA). This multidisciplinary project is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Expected start date is 1 June 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project
The PhD-student will study interactions between phenolics and cellulose nanofibers (CNF) and develop new processing concepts, including enzymatic methods for CNF surface modification. Expression of new enzymes for processing will be done in collaboration with our partners at DTU. The project will comprise an element of gene discovery in organisms that are able to disassemble wood and other types of lignocellulosic biomass and will also include innovative development of analytical methods to monitor the modifications in order to identify, quantify and understand the conversions and surface modifications, and link the chemical changes to the biomass features. 

If you are seeking to establish your career as a topnotch scientist who wants to generate results that can help build a sustainable future, this PhD offers strong options for fulfilling such an ambition.

Who are we looking for?
We are looking for candidates with a strong interest in working at the interface of biotechnology, sustainable biorefining, and new materials development, with a background in biotechnology, biochemistry or chemical engineering. Prior hands-on experience with either heterologous enzyme production, cell wall biology, biomass processing or material science will be considered particular strengths. We expect that you are highly self-motivated, passionate, and diligent about your work. In addition you must communicate well verbally and in writing (English), and thrive in an International, collaborative and multidisciplinary environment, and enjoy supervising BSc and MSc students.

The Cell Wall Biology and Bioengineering Laboratory is engaged in both very basic research in cell wall polysaccharide biosynthesis and evolution, and in using understanding of cell wall architecture for building bioinspired novel materials. The laboratory is located at UCPH’s Frederiksberg Campus in Copenhagen.

Our research facilities in the Section comprise a specialized glycobiology analytical platform while our Department provides access to a state of the art research infrastructure of more general nature. The work will comprise close collaboration with our project partners at Section for Protein Chemistry and Enzyme Technology at DTU.

Principal supervisor is Professor Peter Ulvskov,, +45 6178 9439

Getting into a position on the regular PhD programme
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project.

Terms of employment in the regular programme
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.  A Danish PhD-programme comprises the following:

  • Complete an independent research project under supervision 
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution.
  • Teaching and dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant. Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Application and Assessment Procedure

Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  1. A cover letter that, in addition to general aspects, comprises an account of your motivation for applying for this particular PhD project. Relate the qualifications that you bring to the project to the topic of cellulose nanofiber composites and/or relevant enzymology and biomass processing (max 2 pages). Applications with generic cover letters will not be evaluated.
  2. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  4. Publication list (if any)
  5. Reference letters or contact information on peers that we may contact.

Application deadline:

The application deadline is Wednesday 1 March 2023, 23:59 GMT+1.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in week 13, March 2023.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above-mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Peter Ulvskov


Application deadline: 01-03-2023
Employment start: 01-06-2023
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences
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