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Wageningen University & Research
Spotlight Preferred
6 days ago
Job Type
Job Function
Education, Doing Consulting


Postdoc in Understanding Very high Rates of C3 Photosynthesis

Your job
We are looking for a post-doc (2 year appointment) for the project formally known as “Quantification of the key components of photosynthesis in leaves of Hirschfeldia incana and other species”. You will be part of a multidisciplinary project that combines biophysics, physiology, biochemistry, modelling and genetics to understand the very high photosynthetic rates found in some C3 plants.

What will you do?
You will develop new, or adapt existing, techniques to measure the amounts of key photosynthetic components in leaves of Hirschfeldia incana and other species that despite having C3 photosynthesis have very high photosynthetic rates. These components will include inter alia the cytochrome b6/f complex, the chloroplast ATPase and the reaction centres of PSI and PSII. The methods that will be used to measure these components will most likely be based on some of the following:  precision in vitro light-induced absorbance changes, chlorophyll fluorescence responses, EPR measurements, in folio biophysical measurements, and biochemical assays. We are, however,  open to innovative approaches to making these measurements. Some of these techniques would require the construction of bespoke instruments or modification of existing instruments.

You will use these results in models of photosynthesis that attempt to reproduce the very high photosynthetic rates of these species. This implies that it would be an advantage to have experience with building or modifying instruments, in vitro measurement of the components of photosynthetic systems, and electronics or coding.  The results of your work will be used to understand the physiological adaptations needed to achieve very high rates of photosynthesis in C3 plants

In addition to ‘gold-standard’ quantification techniques you will also need to support the development within the project of simpler methods that can be used in more routine screening or high-throughput phenotyping applications.

The project will be supervised by Dr Jeremy Harbinson and Prof Herbert van Amerongen. 

About the project:
Most plant species use the C3 photosynthetic mechanism but a small number of species  make use of the C4 mechanism and typically have high photosynthetic rates. This high performance comes, however, at the expense of lowered photosynthetic efficiency under low light conditions. Plants using the C3 photosynthetic mechanism, on the other hand, typically have lower rates of photosynthesis than C4 plants and this is one of reasons why C3 crops are less productive than C4 crops. Some C3 plants, however, have very high rates of photosynthesis, higher than many C4 crops plants. We have a programme to understand how these high rates of photosynthesis are achieved, both in terms of function and genetics. Ultimately, we want to explain what makes these leaves so special in terms of their biophysical, physiological and biochemical properties using Hirschfeldia incana (a member of the Brassicaceae) as a model. If this kind of research would interest you and you enjoy understanding complicated systems then this could be the project for you.

Your qualities
You have:

  • a PhD in biophysics, physical chemistry, plant physiology, biochemistry, or related field,  preferably with an interest in photosynthesis research;
  • a strong interest in experimental research;
  • excellent skills in data analysis and modelling;
  • a creative nature with a strong interest in solving scientific puzzles;
  • an interest in developing scientific methods and instrumentation;
  • a collaborative worker with good communication skills;

In our international working environment there is an increasing amount of communication in English. For this position it is about
language level C2. If you do not yet have this level, we will of course help you and you can go to our language centre Wageningen in'to Language

You can see that there are plenty of challenges ahead of you. These challenges can also be seen as development opportunities. So if you do not yet have the track-record required in the vacancy, but do have solid work experience, we would also like to invite you to apply.

You will work here
We are the Laboratory of Biophysics (BIP). We engage in research of the physical aspects of life processes and teaching of the fundamentals of physics and biophysics and their application in the life sciences. The research of BIP relies both on optical and magnetic resonance techniques. BIP is a dynamic international team comprising around 10 staff members, 20PhD students and post- docs. More information on our team can be found HERE. BIP is embedded in the BioMolecular Sciences cluster and participates in the MicroSpectroscopy Research Facility and the MAGNEFY NMR research facility.

We offer you
Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include: 
working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
the option to accrue additional compensation hours by working more, per week;
a fixed December bonus of 8,3%;

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will of course receive a good salary. We offer, depending on your experience, a competitive gross salary of between € 3226,- and € 5090,- for a full-time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale 10 ). 

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling. Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.

Do you want more information?
For more information about this position, please contact Jeremy Harbinson, Professor, by e-mail

For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, corporate recruiter, by e-mail; 

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including March 17th, 2024. We hope to schedule the first job interviews shortly after the closing date.

As part of our selection process, an assessment may be incorporated within the procedure.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are
Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branch­es, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.

Job ID: 72564185

Please refer to the company's website or job descriptions to learn more about them.

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