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Postdoc project: The influence of water layers on proteinous surfaces

We are searching for a suitable candidate (physicist or chemist) for a one-year postdoc at nanogune in San Sebastián, starting in January 2018. We are using AFM and environmental S(T)EM to detect nanoscale water wetting of proteins and viruses, so experience with nanoscale or imaging techniques, and/or with viruses, would be very welcome. Below a short description of the project. More info about nanogune and about the group:


Postdoc project: The influence of water layers on proteinous surfaces

Today's nanoscale science has opened up various gaps. The most famous is arguably the pressure gap in catalysis - surface science works at very low pressures, real catalysis at high pressures. In the medical sciences and in biochemistry, most experiments are carried out in aqueous solution because this is supposed to be the single relevant environment. Many analysis tools are made to operate in solutions. On the other hand, many nanomethods, and also a good part of Surface Science, work at low pressure in vacuum. There are also various tools that require low temperatures; in this case the aqueous environment is supposed to be humid although the water is in a frozen (though not crystalline) state.

Moreover, a surprising number of biological surfaces is surrounded not by aqueous solutions, but by (more or less) dry air - for example our skin, but also the surfaces of many bacteria and viruses. In fact, the transmission and infectivity can show extreme variations upon humidity changes: Some viruses, especially plant viruses transmitted by soil, show no dependence on humidity, while human viruses are unable to "survive" either low or high humidity. For example, the virus that caused the worst pandemic, influenza, prefers low humidity (winter in the Northern hemisphere), while Ebola virions appear to require constant contact to water.

We believe that the analysis of biological, especially proteinous surfaces requires a fresh nanoscale look from the point of view of hydration, to elucidate structure and dynamics of water on these surfaces.

The leader of the self-assembly group, Prof. Bittner, works at the interface between physics, chemistry, and biology. His main interest is the physics of Tobacco mosaic virus, especially mineralization, but most recently also wetting, moving into the science of water. A second research area is electrospinning, to produce ultrathin organic fibers from solutions, and to develop new tools and fiber products for commercialization. The Bittner group's special competences are scanning probe and electron microscopy techniques in water vapor, electrospinning of pure protein fibers, and interdisciplinary strategies.

How to apply

Application by email to applicationatselfassembly@gmail.com

The email subject should contain your first name and last name, and nothing else. Emails with other subjects, or with more text, will be automatically rejected.

The first five lines of the email should each have a max 200 characters in this format:

1. Name:

2. Current workplace:

3. Experience with microscopy:

4. Experience with water or ice:

5. Experience with proteins:

Any other text should be attached as one single pdf file. Emails in any other format will be automatically rejected.

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