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Computational Spectroscopy of Biomolecular Systems

Applications are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Natural Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Chemistry programme. The position is available from 1 February 2021 or later.

Computational Spectroscopy of Biomolecular Systems

Research area and project description:
The analysis and interpretation of experimental spectroscopic studies of biomolecular systems can be very challenging due to the complexity of biological matter and the use of increasingly advanced spectroscopic techniques. This challenge can be solved through computational simulations that can provide the link between the observables and the underlying molecular mechanisms. However, current capabilities are mostly limited to very small systems or support only a few simpler types of spectroscopy. Our goal is to develop computational methodology that will make it possible to simulate a wide range of spectroscopies of large and complex biomolecular systems, such as assemblies of proteins, cell membranes, and nucleic acids. The methodology is based on multiscale-modeling approaches aimed at ground- and excited-state molecular dynamics and embedding methods for electronic-structure calculations of spectroscopic properties. The focus will be on combinations of quantum mechanics (QM) and molecular mechanics (MM) methods, e.g., QM/MM and QM/QM/MM. For the QM part, we typically rely on density functional theory (DFT) but wave-function methods, such as coupled cluster (CC), are also used to some extent, while the MM part is described by advanced polarizable force fields.

The specific project will be formulated together with the successful candidate and can therefore be adapted to take into account their interests and competences. The project must involve theoretical derivation of methodology, in accordance with the research area described above, and its implementation in computer code. It may additionally include the application of the methods to biochemical and biophysical problems.

Qualifications and specific competences:
Applicants to the PhD position should have a relevant master’s degree in chemistry, physics, or a related field. The degree must be obtained before the starting date of the position and by summer 2021 at the latest. Candidates with a background in theoretical and computational chemistry will be preferred. Programming skills (e.g. Fortran and Python) are also highly desirable.

Place of employment and place of work:
The place of employment is Aarhus University, and the place of work is the Department of Chemistry, Langelandsgade 140, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.

Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact:

Assistant Professor Jógvan Magnus Haugaard Olsen (jmho@chem.au.dk)

Application procedures

Before you apply

Information and attachments:

Please be aware that you must have all relevant appendices, attachments, addresses for referees, etc. ready when you apply, as the entire application must be uploaded to the system in one go.

Documentation of language skills:

The English language requirement at the graduate school is comparable to an “English B level” in the Danish upper secondary school (“gymnasium”).

English language qualifications comparable to an “English B level” are documented by one of the following tests:

  • TOEFL test (internet-based), minimum score: 83. The graduate school does not accept the paper-based test, nor the TOEFL ITP test. Remember to ask the test center to send your test results to Aarhus University in order to enable verification of your test results. Aarhus University’s TOEFL code is 8935.
    Currently, the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test (available in selected areas) will also be accepted.
  • IELTS (academic) test, minimum average score: 6.5 points
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment:
    Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (CPE)
    Cambridge English: Certificate of Advanced English with grade A,B or C (CAE)
    Cambridge English: First Certificate with grade A (FCE)

When to take the test and how to upload the documentation:
The test result must not be more than two years old at the time of application.

The English language test should be taken before applying for admission and uploaded under “language skills documentation” in the online application form.

It is possible to apply for admission before you have taken the test. In this case documentation stating that you have signed up for a test (please state expected submission date) must be uploaded. If the test result is not part of the original application the test result is to be sent to gsns@psys.au.dk no later than one month after the application deadline.

The following applicants are exempted from documenting their English qualifications/taking a test:

  • Applicants with citizenship from the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, or one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden).
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme completed in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States. In this case, please upload your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma under the section ”Language skills documentation”.
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme completed at a Danish university for which the requirement was English B level at the time of admission. In this case, please upload your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma under the section ”Language skills documentation”.

The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.

How to apply:

1)      Find the application form:
Go to https://phd.nat.au.dk/for-applicants/apply-here/ - Note, the online application system opens on 1 September 2020.
Choose November 2020 Call with deadline 1 November 2020 at noon (11.59 AM CEST).
You will be directed to the call, and must choose the programme “Chemistry”.

2)      Fill in the following information:

  • Personal information
  • Academic background
  • Admission
  • Financing (if any)
  • Study: In the dropdown menu you must choose the project: “Computational Spectroscopy of Biomolecular Systems”
  • Source (how you found out about the call)

Next to some of the information fields you will find a number. Click on the number to get further directions on how to fill in the information field/what information is needed.

3)      Application attachments:
Please be aware that you cannot submit the application if one or several of these documents have not been uploaded.

If you wish to upload more than one document under each section, you must scan/merge all documents into one large PDF file and upload this. Please note that we reserve the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and the like. Instead you can indicate a URL where the information is available.

All information in the application must be in English or Danish, preferably English. A certified English translation is required for documents written in languages other than English or one of the Scandinavian languages (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish or Danish) languages.

As a minimum all applications must include (pdf-files only, max. 20 MB, no zip):

  • One reference (template for references)
  • Curriculum vitae,
  • Motivation (max. 1 page)
  • Transcripts, grade point averages (weighted and unweighted), and diploma(s) for both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. If the original documents are not in English or one of the Scandinavian languages (i.e. Norwegian, Swedish or Danish) then copies of the original documents as well as a certified English translation must be attached.
  • Project description (½-4 pages). For technical reasons, you must upload a project description. When - as here - you apply for a specific project, please simply copy the project description above, and upload it as a PDF in the application. If you wish to, you can indicate an URL where further information can be found. Please note that we reserve the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and the like.
  • Documentation of language skills if required.

After submission of the application, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with an application ID, you should use for reference if needed.

The graduate school reserves the right to verify the authenticity of your educational diploma and transcripts:

  • Request additional information to verify an application.
  • Reject the application if it is proven, or if the University has reasonable belief, that the information provided is false or if the applicant refuses to provide the requested information, whether or not an offer has already been made. 
  • For further information on applying, assessment procedures, etc. please see the GSNS Application Guide.

Please note:

  • The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.


All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background.

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