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Postdoctoral Research Associate

The University of Edinburgh - College of Science and Engineering / School of Biological Sciences

Location: Edinburgh
Salary: £37,099 to £44,263 per annum. UE07
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 5th February 2024
Closes: 26th February 2024
Job Ref: 9561

UE07 £37,099 to £44,263 per annum (A revised salary range for this grade of £39,347 to £46,974 is planned to take effect from Spring 2024)

Institute of Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology & Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences

Full Time contract: 35 hours per week

Fixed Term: 7 months

We are looking for a Post-Doctoral Research Assistant to lead a project on the valorisation of polyester-derived CO2 through self-feeding microbial co-cultures. The project will be based in the lab of Dr Joanna Sadler in the Institute of Quantitative Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology (IQB3) and co-supervised by Prof. Alistair McCormick in the Institute of Molecular and Plant Sciences (IMPS) in the School of Biological Sciences.

This post is advertised as full-time (35 hours per week), however, we are open to considering part-time or flexible working patterns. 

The Opportunity:

Post-consumer plastic waste is emerging as a promising feedstock for the circular bioeconomy. We and others have engineered de novo biosynthetic pathways in microbial hosts to convert waste polyester-derived small molecules such as terephthalic acid and 3-hydroxybutyrate into higher-value chemical products such as vanillin, catechol and acetone, which are currently synthesized directly from fossil fuels at industrial scale (Green Chem., 2021, 23, 4665-4672). However, these upcycling pathways generate at least 1 mole of CO2 per mole of target chemical produced. This results in loss of plastic-derived carbon to the atmosphere in the form of a greenhouse gas, limiting the overall sustainability of these processes. 

This project aims to improve these plastic upcycling processes through in situ valorization of the CO2 produced. This will be achieved by co-culture with a chemoautotrophic strain of cyanobacteria engineered to secrete sucrose into the culture medium, using two upcycling pathways recently developed in our lab as model systems. The goal is for this sucrose to be used as a carbon source for the E. coli strain, such that a self-feeding co-culture which is driven by plastic upcycling may be established. 

Your skills and attributes for success: 

  • PhD in an appropriate biological science
  • Experience of working with E. coli and/or photosynthetic microorganisms
  • Experience of developing, analysing and optimising new bioprocesses
  • Enthusiasm for working in a multidisciplinary team at the interface of chemistry and biology
  • Passion for biotechnology and sustainability

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