Post Doc in Plant Membrane Biochemistry
University of Copenhagen Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Post doctoral position in Plant Membrane Biochemistry

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science at University of Copenhagen is offering a 2.5 year Post doctoral fellowship to investigate the storage of toxic saponins in plants and the mechanisms developed by the plant to overcome this. The fellowships will commence November 1st, 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The postdoc’s duties will include research within research as well as teaching. The post may also include performance of other duties such as scientific mentoring.

Description of the scientific environment

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences is a large department (450 employees) dedicated to plant, microbial, and environmental sciences ( Further information on the Department is linked at

The post doctoral position is financed by a five year Novo Nordisk Foundation Distinguished Investigator 2020 research grant “EcoSap: triterpenoid saponins as green solutions for future sustainable food production” and with the Plant Biochemistry Laboratory as the working place. The successful applicants will join the Molecular Evolution of Specialized Metabolism research group headed by Professors Søren Bak and the Plant Signaling research group headed by Anja Fuglsang, respectively, as part of a larger cross disciplinary project.

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Project description

World agricultural food and feed production suffers greatly from losses to insect pests. We need alternative green solutions to protect our crops to secure food and feed production. The focus of “EcoSap: triterpenoid saponins as green solutions for future sustainable food production” project is to learn from nature. Plants and insects have coexisted for millions of years and plants have evolved a refined arsenal of chemical compounds to defend themselves against insect pest. The number of plant defense compounds vastly outcompetes the number of synthetic insecticides and importantly, they comprise many more modes of action than synthetic pesticides have to target insect pest. We identified a class of compounds called saponins that can target insect species that are resistant to most synthetic insecticides. Saponins are generally assumed to interact with membrane systems – yet the precise mode of action is poorly understood and what is known is mainly theoretical and not empirically validated. The aim of this post doc position it to find out how these compounds work at the molecular level, how they interact (or not) with specialized subcellular membranes.

Key scientific qualification areas  

  • Plant molecular biology,
  • Metabolomics
  • Membrane biophysics
  • Plant cell organelle isolation by classical separation methods or by using free flow electrophoresis,
  • Advanced membrane purification methods: quartz-syringe based micro-extraction, or laser-capture micro dissection
  • Artificial vesicles
  • Knowledge of natural product metabolism
  • Strong publication record

Key personal skills 

  • Enthusiasm and good interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to collaborate with others including supervision and mentoring of students
  • Broad curiosity in biological questions and open-mindedness to cross-disciplinary research
  • Curiosity driven interdisciplinary approach to science and a generous and open mindset
  • Ability to work independently and manage your research project
  • Ability to critically review research results generated as part of the project
  • Engagement in Departmental and Laboratory activities including lab duties, teaching and dissemination of your research
  • Ensuring GLP and general safety operations

Formal requirements

Applicants should, prior to the start date, hold a PhD degree in biochemistry, biotechnology, molecular biology, plant biology or similar subjects, and should be fluent in both spoken and written English. If you are still a PhD student at the time of the application deadline, please provide a confirmation letter from your supervisor that you are expected to finish in time before the start date of the Post-doctoral position. Previous publications and relevant work experience will be included in the assessment of your qualifications.

Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff. Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.
The starting salary is currently up to DKK 426.625 including annual supplement (+ pension up to DKK 72.952). Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.

Application Procedure

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  • Cover Letter. State your motivation for applying and describe how your profile contributes to the project. Please also include full contact details (name, address, telephone and e-mail) of 1-3 professional referees (maximum 1 page)
  • CV (maximum 2 pages)
  • Diplomas (Master and PhD degree or equivalent)
  • Research plan – description of current and future research plans (maximum 2 pages)
  • Complete publication list
  • Separate reprints of up to 3 particularly relevant papers

Candidates that are interested in applying for a Marie Curie post doc stipend are encouraged to apply.

The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background.

The deadline for applications is Sunday 13  September  2020 21:59 GMT +2. Applications received after the deadline for applications will not be considered.

After the expiry of the application deadline, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. Afterwards an assessment committee will be appointed to evaluate the selected applications. The applicants will be notified of the composition of the committee and the final selection of a successful candidate will be made by the Head of Department, based on the recommendations of the assessment committee and the interview committee.

The main criterion for selection will be the research potential of the applicant and the above-mentioned skills.


For specific information about the Postdoc fellowship, please contact Professors Søren Bak, e-mail: or Professor Anja Fuglsang, Section for Plant Biochemistry and Transport Biology, respectively, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 13-09-2020
Employment start: 01-11-2020
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

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