Vacancy 11& 12- UvA (Position filled)

UvA: 2 PhD Positions in photochemical transformations

Publication date: 13 October 2020

Closing date: 15 November 2020

Level of education: Master degree

Hours: 38 hours per week

Salary indication: €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month


Are you interested to tackle the challenges associated with photocatalysis in a coherent and comprehensive fashion? Are you curious to make important contributions to the applicability and scalability of photocatalytic processes through the design of novel photocatalysts, new photocatalytic methodologies, cutting-edge technological solutions to enable automation and scalability, and immediate industrial implementation? 

The Flow Chemistry group is headed by Prof. Timothy Noël and is part of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) at the University of Amsterdam. We are seeking two excellent, highly motivated PhD candidates to carry out interdisciplinary research with the aim to overcome the current limitations towards the applicability and scalability of photochemical transformations within the PhotoReAct project. 

PhotoReAct is an Innovative Training Network (ITN) and PhD students, which in this context are called Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), will participate in the research to tackle the challenges associated with photocatalysis in a coherent and comprehensive fashion. The use of visible light energy to induce chemical transformations constitutes a chemoselective and green activation mode of organic molecules. However, implementation of this energy source in organic synthetic methodologies and in the industrial production of fine chemicals has been challenging. 

In total 15 Early Stage Researchers will be trained in 14 organizations from industry and academia within the PhotoReAct network. The network will provide them with opportunities to undertake research with the aim to overcome the current limitations towards the applicability and scalability of photochemical transformations. This will be achieved through rational design of novel photocatalysts, the development of new photocatalytic methodologies, improved reactor technology and direct industrial implementation of photocatalytic transformations. Furthermore, the ESRs will be trained in the PhotoReAct graduate school, acquiring scientific, personal and soft skills. All ESRs will perform three secondments, of which at least one is intersectoral and carried out with an industrial partner and a second is international. Consequently, the ESRs will have improved career prospects and a higher employability. Due to the high degree of industrial participation, the PhotoReAct network will provide an innovation-friendly environment where scientific results can grow and become products or services that will benefit European economies. PhotoReAct is EU funded (project no. 956324) and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action.


What are you going to do? 


Project 1: Solar Photoredox Catalysis in LSC-based Photomicroreactors

Objectives: Development of a sunlight-harvesting reactor which can be operated at elevated temperatures and pressures and can operate off-grid. 
Expected Results: Photomicroreactors will be developed of glass Luminescent Solar Concentrators (LSC). An algorithm will be developed which allows to cope with variable light intensities (e.g. due to passing clouds). Upconverting nanoparticles will be embedded in the glass matrix to increase the energy efficiency. You will work in a team with one other PhD student under supervision of professor Timothy Noël. The work will be executed within the European Innovative Training Network project PhotoReAct.

Project 2: Multipurpose high-throughput experimentation (HTE) platform for screening photocatalytic processes
Objectives: Development of a HTE experimentation platform which allows to self-optimize photocatalytic reactions in flow. Implementation of Machine Learning algorithms to analyse the obtained data and make predictions of yield/selectivity and reaction conditions for unknown substrates.
Expected Results: A fully automated HTE platform with inline spectroscopy applied to several reactions, incl. energy transfer, hydrogen atom transfer and photoredox. Large amounts of data generated by the platform which will be fed to machine learning algorithms.
You will work in a team with one other PhD student under supervision of professor Timothy Noël. The work will be executed within the European Innovative Training Network project PhotoReAct.

What do we require?

Applicants must have a relevant master degree (M.Sc.) for these PhD positions. More specifically, we are interested in highly motivated students with excellent English communication and writing skills.  Applicants must be within 4 years after receiving the Master of Science degree, or less than 4 years research experience since receiving the M.Sc. degree prior to recruitment. Please do NOT apply if you are not eligible! 

Importantly, applicants must also meet the requirements of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Conditions of Mobility of Researchers. Researchers can be of any nationality and are required to undertake transnational mobility. This means that applicants can not apply for a position in a country where they have lived more than 12 months in the last 3 years. To foster diversity in our research group, we will especially appreciate applications from groups underrepresented in science.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.  

Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact Timothy Noël professor, email: 

About the Faculty of Science and the Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences   

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain. 

The Van't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences (HIMS) is one of eight institutes of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) Faculty of Science. HIMS performs internationally recognized chemistry and molecular research, curiosity driven as well as application driven. This is done in close cooperation with the chemical, flavour & food, medical and high-tech industries. Research is organised into four themes: Synthesis & Catalysis, Analytical Chemistry, Computational Chemistry and Molecular Photonics.


The mission of the Flow Chemistry group (a.k.a. the Noël Research Group) is to expand the available chemical space by embracing technology to the fullest extent. The aim of the group is to build bridges between chemical engineering and organic synthetic chemistry. Consequently, long-standing problems in synthetic chemistry can be overcome, which includes scalability, gas-liquid reactions, photochemistry, electrochemistry and the generation and use of hazardous reagents. This allows us to effectively expand the available chemical space by bringing overlooked or avoided reagents into play.

"The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity."

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 15 November 2020. You can apply online by using the link.  

Applications in only one .pdf should include:

• a one-page letter motivating a) why you want to be part of PhotoReAct; b) why are you applying for this specific position; c) why do you consider yourself a suitable candidate for this position;
• a list of three achievements in your life that you are proud of;   
• a detailed CV listing education, work experience, publications, relevant other activities and coordinates of up to three referees;  
• an academic transcript of B.Sc. and M.Sc. education;
• a copy of academic works such as papers or M.Sc. thesis;  
• a high TOEFL (> 90 or 100) or IELTS (> 6.5 or 7) score certificate.
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Following the 'Women and Science' movement, the PhotoReAct project encourages and promotes applications from excellent female candidates.

The selection procedure includes two interview rounds and a reference check. The first interview will be done by video calls and the second in person and include a presentation of your master thesis, an essay about the future of photoredox catalysis (1 hour preparation time, no Google searches can be carried out) and subsequent presentation in front of the supervisors. Because of COVID-19 it may be that the last round has to be done by video call. Please read the Charter and Code for recruitment here.