PhD in Microscopy and Nanospectroscopy of Biomolecules

Published on
February 22, 2021
Location Wageningen
End date Sun 14 March 2021
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We are looking for

Are you a highly driven and an extremely curious person loving interdisciplinary Science? Do you have an MSc degree in Physics, Chemistry or Molecular Life Science with focus on Biosciences? That makes a match!

We are looking for a PhD student (AIO) with great interest in applied physics, chemistry and in pushing the boundaries and capabilities of modern microscopy, nanoscale chemical imaging and spectroscopy in order to allow new discoveries on biomolecular phenomena at the base of life and disease. 
During this Project, the PhD will work two-folds on: i) the development and application of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) based mechanical and spectroscopic modes; ii) the interdisciplinary application of these methods to solve fundamental problems in Chemistry and Biology. The first objective will focus on high resolution AFM and the development of the capabilities and sensitivity of infrared nanospectroscopy (AFM-IR) in air and native liquid environment at the single molecule scale. The second objective will focus on demonstrating that these new technological advances allow to answer unsolved and puzzling questions in biosciences, such as unraveling the physical chemical determinants of protein condensation and aggregation in food, cell function and malfunction.

The PhD will work in the laboratory of Nanoscale Microscopy and Spectroscopy (NMS) lead by Dr. Ruggeri, which is part of the chair groups of Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry. The PhD will work in team with another PhD that will focus on applied Chemistry for the nanoscale chemical characterisation of functional polymeric materials. The PhD will have access to a unique, cutting-edge and world-leading laboratory of scanning probe microscopy, including several high-resolution AFMs and AFM-IR systems. This cutting-edge facility in combination with the interdisciplinary backgrounds of the 2 PhD projects will assure the successful development of the project.

This PhD position opening is also placed in the frame of the collaboration between Dr. Ruggeri, Wageningen University and Bruker Nano Surface (USA), which will provide fundamental engineering support to develop nanoscale infrared spectroscopy. The PhD will have thus the opportunity to work at the interface between Research and Technology Development in Industry.

We ask

You are highly driven and extremely curious. “Why?” is a question you often ask, both inside and outside of Science.

  • You have an MSc degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Chemistry or Molecular Life Sciences with focus in Bioscience and/or Bio-Nanotechnology;
  • you have a strong background and solid hands-on experience in experimental physics, signal and data processing, statistical analysis, and a strong interest (or preferentially experience) in scanning probe microscopy and spectroscopy;
  • you must have a deep understanding of Physics and interest in behaviour of biological molecules in order to be able to study their structure-activities relationship;
  • you have a deep interest in applying physical methods to complex systems and enjoy working in a highly multidisciplinary, dynamic and collaborative environment and open to communicate to a language that is comprehensible to broad public and scientific audience;
  • you aim to excel, and your biggest talents are creativity, persistence and being inquisitive. Your affinity for the collaborative nature of the project, and good written and oral communication skills in English (minimally IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 90) are crucial for the successful development of this study. 

Only applications that clearly show these facets will be considered.

We offer

We offer you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2395,- in the first year rising up to € 3061,- per month in the fourth year. 

In addition we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% fixed-year allowance;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary working conditions;
  • an excellent pension scheme via ABP;
  • 232 holiday hours, the ability to purchase and good supplementary leave arrangements and an individualized model to compose part of your working conditions and a bicycle plan;
  • sports facilities available on campus which can be used against a small fee; 
  • good (study) leave arrangements.

Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with our internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for personal initiative in a learning environment. With us you get a versatile job in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

More information

For more information about this function you can contact Dr. F.S. Ruggeri, via email:
For more information about the procedure you can contact Mrs. Nicole de Vries, HR advisor, e-mail:, telephone number +31 317 485 677.

Do you want to apply?
This can be done directly via the application button at the vacancy on our website so that we can process your personal data with your permission. This vacancy is open until March 16th 2021.

Equal opportunities employer
We are an employer that offers equal opportunities. We are happy to receive applications from all suitably qualified people regardless of race, gender, functional impairment, religion / belief, sexual orientation or age.
We believe that a diverse and inclusive working environment makes us a more relevant, competitive and resilient organization. Click here for more information about working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

The laboratory of Nanoscale Microscopy and Spectroscopy (NMS) is a young and dynamic team embedded within the chair groups of Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry at Wageningen University. The Laboratory facilities are equipped with a unique and cutting edge set of several high resolution AFMS and customized Infrared Nanospectroscopy (AFM-IR) systems operating in air, liquid and vacuum environments.
The Organic Chemistry group ( constitutes a large, interdisciplinary research team involved in teaching and research on organic chemistry, with an emphasis on surface-based reactivity. Our group excels in the field, and aims to continue to do so. The team consists of around 25 PhD students and postdocs, a permanent staff of 7 technical employees, two part-time professors with external expertise, 7 assistant and associate professors and one full-time chair (many of whom have received highly competitive national and ERC personal grants). The laboratory is extremely well-equipped with high-end preparative laboratories and a unique set of analysis instruments for bio-organic materials and surfaces. In addition to this, the embedding within Wageningen University & Research adds ample biological input into our focus on modified surfaces and functional materials.

The Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter group ( is a highly interdisciplinary chair group involved in teaching and research on a broad range of topics in soft matter science, with an emphasis on polymeric assemblies and materials. We operate at the forefront of the field and have many collaborations, both national and international. The team consists of around 25 PhD students and postdocs and a permanent staff of 2 technicians, 3 full-time professors, and 4 assistant and associate professors. The laboratory is very well-equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for optical, mechanical, and thermal characterization.

The mission of our University is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. 

With approximately 30 locations, 6,500 employees, and 12,000 students, it is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen. We have been named Best Employer in Education category 2019-2020.

Click here for more information about working at Wageningen University & Research.

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