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Job ID: 205462

Staff scientist in lignin chemistry and modification
Aalto University

Date Posted Feb. 13, 2023
Title Staff scientist in lignin chemistry and modification
University Aalto University
, Finland
Department T107 Bioproducts and Biosystems
Application Deadline Open until filled
Position Start Date Available immediately
  • Research Scientist/Associate
  • Chemistry - Organic
    Chemistry - General
Aalto University is where science and art meet technology and business. We shape a sustainable future by making research breakthroughs in and across our disciplines, sparking the game changers of tomorrow and creating novel solutions to major global challenges. Our community is made up of 12 000 students, 400 professors, and more than 4 000 other faculty and staff working on our dynamic campus in Espoo, Greater Helsinki, Finland. Diversity is part of who we are, and we actively work to ensure our community’s diversity and inclusiveness. This is why we warmly encourage qualified candidates from all backgrounds to join our community.

Aalto University’s School of Chemical Engineering (CHEM), Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems (Bio2), is now looking for a

Staff scientist in lignin chemistry and modification

Are you passionate about lignin chemistry and valorization and looking for a possibility to have an impact on the development of a holistic biorefinery concept?

We are looking for a candidate with an educational background in organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, wood chemistry or biorefineries with the competence and interest to develop lignin modification and analytics. The candidate should be familiar with state-of-the-art analytical tools relevant for lignin characterization, extraction, and modification.

There is an increasing interest in utilizing lignin in materials due to the need for resource efficiency and utilization of all fractions from pulping. The applications vary from utilization of the monomeric lignin phenols as building blocks for chemicals to utilization of polymeric lignin in resins, coatings, and carbonized materials. To complement our expertise in carbonization of lignin and lignin nanomaterials, we are looking for a scientist with in-depth knowledge of lignin chemistry and analytics. 

One of the main challenges with lignin is its heterogenous structure. To be able to utilize lignin more efficiently, a thorough understanding of lignins’ chemical features and how to modify them using green chemistry methods is needed. In order to identify suitable application areas for different lignins, the correlation between process conditions, lignin structure, lignin properties and application performance must be developed. This requires an understanding of organic chemistry and analytical methods, especially NMR, as well as the motivation and ability to collaborate with supporting experts. 

Your role and goals

The staff scientist in lignin chemistry and modification will be responsible for developing, maintaining, and conducting lignin analytics at the department. The most important aspect is to facilitate NMR analyses, including phosphorous NMR and HSQC, as well as chromatographic and other spectroscopic analyses. The analytical knowledge is directed towards processing and materials applications.

The staff scientist is expected to have ambitions to develop methods for lignin modification for better performance in applications. This includes interest in diverse raw materials and extraction methods, and chemical or enzymatic modification of extracted lignin. 

The candidate is also expected to participate in ongoing projects, collaborate with companies, take an active role in establishing new collaborations and applying for funding together with professors at the Bio2 department.

The staff scientist will have the opportunity to support doctoral candidates and supervise MSc and BSc students in projects related to lignin chemistry and analytics. Depending on their interest, the staff scientist may also participate in teaching topics related to biomass structure and organic chemistry at BSc and MSc level.

Scientific Environment

The Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems (Bio2) is at the forefront of forest products technologies and cutting-edge biotechnology. The department uses its interdisciplinary approach to design and develop innovative products and solutions for applications ranging from construction and textiles to biomaterials, energy, and biomedicine.

Some of our research activities involve utilization of lignin nanoparticles in added value materials, correlating lignin structure with performance in applications, as well as development of sustainable biocolorants based on side streams. We are leading three large collaborative competence centers at the department, which opens up the possibility for multidisciplinary collaboration. These are the FinnCERES competence center for materials bioeconomy, Bioinnovation center and the Center of Excellence in Life inspired hybrid materials (LIBER).

Your experience and ambitions

The candidate is expected to have
  • A PhD in organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, or related field
  • Preferably 2-5 years of experience after PhD
  • In-depth experience in 31P NMR and HSQC NMR and other lignin analytical methods
  • Excellent written, oral, and communication skills in English, and the ability and motivation to communicate with scientific peers and the public
  • Good publication record in peer-reviewed journals

It would be an asset if the candidate also has
  • Experience in collaboration with the industry
  • Experience in project leadership and applying for funding
  • Experience in training equipment users
  • Teaching and supervision experience
  • Finnish language skills

What we offer

We offer an opportunity to spearhead lignin research as part of a scientific community globally renowned in biomass research and valorisation. You will work together with the faculty to support academic functions such as teaching and applying for funding. We offer an inspiring work environment with connections to FinnCERES and Aalto University Bioinnovation Center.

We offer a fixed-term position for 4 years with the possibility for a permanent position later. Salary is determined according to the salary system of Aalto University. Our facilities are located at Aalto University Otaniemi campus in Espoo, Finland. The planned starting date is in spring 2023 or later depending on the availability of the candidate.

The employment contract includes occupational health care, and Finland has a comprehensive social security system. Aalto University provides excellent learning and development opportunities, commuter ticket benefit.  Unisport offers versatile sports facilities and exercise services with a staff discount.

Ready to apply?

If you want to join our community, please submit your application through our online recruitment system no later than 8.3.2023 by using the link on Aalto University’s webpage (“Apply now”). If you are an Aalto employee, please apply via Workday system (internal jobs).

To apply, please include the following documents in English and as a single pdf document:
  • Motivation letter (1 page)
  • A brief research statement describing your research interests and achievements (1-2 pages)
  • CV including the description of previous equipment responsibilities and contact information of 2-3 references
  • List of publications with five most important publications highlighted

For further information about the position, please contact Head of the Department, Professor Monika Österberg (monika.osterberg(at) In recruitment related questions, please contact HR Partner Noora Katisko (noora.katisko(at)

Want to know more about us and your future colleagues? You can watch these videos: Aalto University - Towards a better world, Aalto People, and Shaping a Sustainable Future. You can also check out our webpage about Aalto and Finland: and check out our new virtual campus experience:

About Finland

Finland is a great place for living with or without family - it is a safe, politically stable, and well-organized Nordic society. Finland is consistently ranked high in quality of life and was just listed again as the happiest country in the world: For more information about living in Finland: For international staff | Aalto University  

Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period, and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period.

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