Doctoral Researcher in catalytic modification of carbohydrates (DSII)

Doctoral Researcher in catalytic modification of carbohydrates (DSII) /
Väitöskirjatutkija, hiilihydraattien katalyyttinen muokkaus (DSII)


The University of Helsinki and Tampere University, together with the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation and participating companies, run a joint DSII Scale-up Pilot project, which offers positions for doctoral researchers working in close cooperation with industry. 

The Doctoral School of Industry Innovations (DSII) explores research questions directly relevant to industry and business. Of the eight researchers selected for the program, half will be located at the University of Helsinki and half at Tampere University, but both universities participate in the guidance of selected doctoral students. This enables a unique possibility for diverse and complementary research from theory to applications in a highly motivated, cross-disciplinary environment.

DSII offers Doctoral Researchers a unique opportunity to undertake dissertation research, thoroughly understand product development, tackle real-world business challenges and expand their professional networks. 


The partner company for this position is Borealis, which is one of the world’s leading providers of advanced and sustainable polyolefin solutions and a European front-runner in polyolefins recycling. In Europe, Borealis is a market leader in base chemicals. Borealis leverages its polymer expertise and decades of experience to offer value adding, innovative and circular material solutions for key industries such as consumer products, energy, healthcare, infrastructure and mobility. In re-inventing essentials for sustainable living, Borealis builds on commitment to safety, people, innovation and technology, and performance excellence. Borealis is accelerating the transformation to a circular economy of polyolefins and expanding geographical footprint to better serve customers around the globe. | |


Job description

The purpose of the work is to create new information for universities and industry about the catalytic modification of carbohydrates, especially the modification of hemicellulose and other biomass side-streams into polymer raw materials, combining the latest experimental methods of chemical research with experimental design, automation and machine learning. The goals are:

  1. Produces new know-how and understanding of catalytic dehydration and cleavage of carbohydrates by utilizing e.g. statistical analysis and machine learning.
  2. To plan and carry out follow-up reactions to produce polymerizable monomers from the products of point 1.
  3. Techno-economic evaluation of processes based on the developed synthesis routes by modeling and other methods.

As a doctoral researcher, you conduct research and participate in the development of new catalytic methods. The research includes the preparation of catalysts, analysis of both catalysts and products from hemicellulose or other biomass components e.g. by spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. Evaluation of the results is an essential part of the work, and e.g. statistical methods and machine learning are used to understand structure-reactivity correlations. The results will be disseminated in scientific peer-reviewed journals, international conferences, doctoral network events and events with industry.

At the universities, the work will be supervised by professors Timo Repo (University of Helsinki) and Ville Santala (Tampere University). You will also be supported by practitioners in the steering group, including company representatives.

The tasks of all doctoral researchers will also include teaching duties that amount to approximately 5% of their annual working hours unless there are justified reasons to the contrary.

Moreover, DSII Scale-up Pilot Project requires the doctoral researcher to be ready to work on the campuses of both universities and the premises of the partner company when necessary. Remote work opportunities are agreed upon separately when needed.

By participating in DSII events, excursions, meetings and training sessions with your fellow doctoral students, you will both get and provide peer support and make your contribution to the development of DSII.


You need an applicable master’s degree in chemistry, chemical engineering or a related discipline. The candidate should have excellent knowledge in one or several of the following fields:

  1. Synthesis
  2. Catalysis
  3. Analytical methods for biomass

We appreciate your interest towards computer science and machine learning. You also need to have an inquiring mind, enjoy problem-solving and be able to think independently while also being able to work in a team. A good command of English, both in writing and in oral presentations, is required. For partner company Borealis safety is priority number one, so you have a strong focus on proactively promote and drive the health, safety and environmental awareness and behavior.

The appointee should either already have the right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki by the start of the appointment or apply for the right and obtain it within the probationary period of six months of their appointment. If the candidate does not already have the right to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki, it must be applied for separately The requirements for pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki can be found at

We offer

The position will be filled for a fixed-term period of four (4) years, commencing in November 2023 or as soon after that as possible. A trial period of six (6) months applies to all our new employees.

The salary will be based on the job requirements and the employee's performance per the Finnish University Salary System. According to the criteria applied to teaching and research staff, the position of a doctoral researcher is placed on levels 2–4 of the job requirements scale. A typical starting salary for a doctoral researcher is approximately 2500 EUR monthly. The salary increases based on experience and the progress of doctoral studies.

We invite you to be a part of a collaboration between two active research communities: the research group at University of Helsinki focusing on catalysis and green chemistry and a research group at Tampere University focusing on Synthetic biology.

Both universities are firmly committed to the highest level of scientific research and the provision of high-quality doctoral education. The universities and the Doctoral School of Industry Innovations support doctoral researchers by offering training and peer support. Doctoral researchers in DSII develop vital skills, enabling them to conduct agile, customer-oriented research, development and business. 

The University of Helsinki offers a wide range of staff benefits, such as occupational health care and sports services, as well as professional development opportunities ( The appointee is expected to reside in Finland while employed by the University of Helsinki. International staff is supported in relocating to Finland (

The University of Helsinki is a unique, multidisciplinary, boldly forward-looking, evolving community. Our values are openness, diversity, responsibility, courage, critical thinking, erudition/Bildung, and learner-centredness. We hope you can embrace and promote these values in your work. Please read more about working at the University of Helsinki – We welcome applicants from a variety of genders, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and minorities. We support the compatibility of work and family-life and promote gender equality in science.

How to apply

Please submit your application through the University of Helsinki online recruitment system (see the link below).
The closing date for applications is October 4, 2023.
Please write your application and all the accompanying documentation in English and attach them in PDF format.

Please attach only the following documents to your application: 

  • A letter of motivation and description of your research interests (max. 1 A4 page)
  • Curriculum vitae (including the contact details of two referees)


For further information, please contact:

Prof. Timo Repo, timo.repo(at)

Prof. Ville Santala, ville.santala(at)

In questions related to recruitment system, please contact Head of HR Hanna Nurmela (hanna.nurmela(at)


Haemme väitöskirjatutkijaa, alana hiilihydraattien katalyyttinen muokkaus (DSII)


Työn tarkoituksena on tuottaa uutta tietoa hiilihydraattien, erityisesti hemiselluloosan ja muiden biomassan sivuvirtojen katalyyttisestä muokkauksesta kemianteollisuuden raaka-aineiksi. Työn painopiste on katalyytitutkimuksessa, mutta siihen liittyy läheisesti myös automatiikan ja koneoppimisen hyödyntäminen.

Työ luo yliopistoille ja teollisuudelle uutta tietoa biomassan katalyyttisestä muokkaamisesta, erityisesti hiilihydraattipohjaisten raaka-aineiden muuntamisesta polymerointikelpoisiksi raaka-aineiksi.

Tavoitteet ovat:

  1. Tuottaa uutta osaamista ja ymmärrystä katalyyttisestä hiilihydraattien dehydraatiosta ja pilkkoutumisesta hyödyntämällä reaktioiden optimointiin mm. tilastollista analyysiä ja koneoppimista.
  2. Suunnitella ja toteuttaa edelleen jatko-reaktioita polymerointikelpoisten monomeerien valmistamiseksi kohdan 1. tuotteille.
  3. Synteesireittieihin perustuvien prosessien teknoekonominen evaluointi mallintamalla ja muiden menetelmien avulla.


Lue tarkemmat tiedot tehtävästä ja hakuohjeet yllä olevasta englanninkielisestä ilmoituksesta.

Jätäthän hakemuksesi yliopiston sähköisellä hakulomakkeella (linkki löytyy tämän ilmoituksen alta).

Hakuaika tehtävään päättyy 4.10.2023.

Onko sinulla -käyttäjätunnukset ja voimassa oleva työsopimus, apurahatutkijan sopimus, vierailevan tutkijan tai vierailevan professorin sopimus Helsingin yliopistossa? Kirjaudu ensin tästä hakeaksesi avoimia tehtäviämme

Avoin työpaikka

Haku päättyy:  4.10.2023
Yksikkö:  Matemaattis- luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta
Alayksikkö:  Kemian osasto
Tunniste:  2553

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