2 PhD positions in Biophysics

We are looking for two, motivated, enthusiastic and curiosity-driven PhD students for an interdisciplinary project at the border of physics, biology and chemistry. Details below:



Project title

HYDRA – Elucidating the Role of Hydration Heterogeneity and Hydrophobic Mismatch in Biomimetic Cell Membranes Organization.


Keywords: biological water / structure of water / cell membrane hydration / hydrophobic mismatch / lipid bilayer / biophysics / fluorescence microscopy / atomic force microscopy / sum frequency generation


Project description

The cellular plasma membrane is an intricately organized organelle, which separates the intracellular machinery from the extracellular milieu. Cell membranes are chemically highly heterogeneous, yet their components work in a concerted manner, facilitating a broad range of important cell functions. These thin bilayers of lipids orchestrate the transport in and out of the cell, direct cellular proteins and interface the cell with the extracellular environment. The organization of the cell membrane involves: assembly into domains, whose properties differ from those of the surrounding membrane; and intricate interactions with the hydrating water. Defects in the organization of the membrane components translate into dysregulation in their activity, which may lead to pathologies affecting the entire organism. Clearly, understanding the lateral organization and hydration of lipids and proteins in cell membranes is of utmost importance. The goalof the proposed research line is to provide micro- and nano-scale, molecular-level insights into the structural and physicochemical heterogeneity of model biological membranes and their hydration layer. These insights will unravel correlations between membrane hydration structure, chemical composition and organization with unprecedented levels of chemical specificity, sensitivity, and spatiotemporal resolution. The acquired knowledge will reveal the mechanisms that give rise to many fascinating aspects of cell membrane organization and regulation. This will be achieved by using a unique combination of microscopic and spectroscopic techniques: fluorescence microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and infrared micro spectroscopy. This combination will ensure ultrahigh spatial resolution, high chemical specificity and single molecule sensitivity.


This project will be realized in a new, highly motivated research team with a focus on strong international publication output, effective collaborations and teamwork. The project will be carried out in a close collaboration with the group of Prof. Maria Garcia-Parajo from the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, as well as with the group of Prof. Mischa Bonn from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany.


Preferred starting date: 01.06.2019 (later starting date also possible June-September)

Maximum period of contract: 36 months + possible 12 months extension

Remuneration: 8000 PLN (~1850 EUR) gross / ~4700 PLN (1100 EUR) net



1. Ability to design, execute and evaluate research experiments independently,

2. Ability to collaborate with others,

3. Highly capable of communicating scientific results in English, both orally and in writing,

4. Have a professional approach and self-motivation,

5. Capable of analyzing and working with complex issues.


Specific requirements

1. Very good level of written and oral English language,

2. Has solid background in molecular physics, biophysics, spectroscopic and microscopic techniques,

3. Experience with fluorescence microscopy (bulk, single molecules, fluorescence techniques), atomic force microscopy (especially on soft matter) or vibrational spectroscopic techniques (Raman, FTIR, SFG) is not required, but you should have the strong desire to learn these skills,

4. Experience with membrane biophysics, especially preparation and characterization of biomimetic cell membranes, lipid monolayers or vesicles will be beneficial,

5. Knowledge on scientific software such as Matlab and/or LabVIEW will be beneficial,

6. Have a professional approach and self-motivation,



1. Project carried out in a young and ambitious environment,

2. PhD student position in a top-ranked technical university in Poland,

3. Access to modern equipment and facilities,

4. Interdisciplinary collaborations with foreign partners, international experience gained through a number of collaborations,

5. Participation in scientific conferences and training courses


Eligibility criteria – You should hold a MSc degree (or You are close to obtaining one within the next few months) in Chemistry, Biochemistry/Biophysics, Physics or any field related to soft matter sciences. You must hold an attested copy of scientific degree (MSc), diploma in English.


Application deadline: 12.04.2019

To apply please send to dr Łukasz Piątkowski (lpiatkowski@ichf.edu.pl) the following information:

1. Resume (CV including your relevant professional experience, knowledge of experimental techniques, a list of potential publications and contact details of your M.Sc. supervisor),

2. Motivation letter (1 page A4 max) with a brief description of why you want to pursue research studies and why do you want to join our research team,

3. Reference letter,

4. Please include in you CV the following clause:

"I agree to the processing of personal data contained in my job application for the needs necessary to carry out the recruitment process conducted by Poznan University of Technology with headquarters in Poznan./Wyrażam zgodę na przetwarzanie moich danych osobowych zawartych w dokumentach aplikacyjnych przez Politechnikę Poznańską z siedzibą w Poznaniu w celu przeprowadzenia obecnego postępowania rekrutacyjnego.


Applications should be sent to Dr Lukasz Piatkowski (lpiatkowski@ichf.edu.pl) quoting "PhD FirstTeam [Surname of the Applicant]" in the email subject. 


Details on the Euraxess website: https://www.euraxess.pl/jobs/368227