Elucidating the function of proton pumps with neutron crystallography (ESR11)

Applications are invited for an Early Stage Researcher (ESR)/PhD studentship position at the European Spallation Source ESS ERIC in Lund, Sweden (ESS), working with Dr. Esko Oksanen.

The Science Directorate within ESS comprises a total of five divisions which, during the construction period of ESS, will support activities related to the design and actual construction of neutron scattering instruments but also activities related to providing supporting infrastructure such as laboratories, while developing an active scientific programme to support not only the neutron scattering instruments but also the future users which will be using such instruments. All activities within the Science Directorate rely to great extend on extensive collaborations amongst not only the European but world-wide neutron scattering user community, which results in a very dynamic and interesting work environment that will deliver a multi-disciplinary research center based on the world’s most powerful neutron source.
Description of main responsibilities: The PhD research project will focus on the structure and mechanism of proton pumping proteins by neutron crystallography. The work includes production, purification, crystallisation and X-ray and neutron data collection form membrane proteins. The project is part of the Rationalising Membrane Protein Crystallisation (RAMP) (https://ramp-itn.eu) Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Network (ITN). The PhD project is one of 12 in this training network. Other PhD students in the network will work with other membrane proteins, develop advanced methods for crystallisation and modelling of the membrane protein crystallisation process. The project will involve secondments to other network partners with specialised molecular biology, crystallisation and crystallography expertise.

Hydrogen atoms play a key role in the function of many integral membrane proteins such as proton pumps, but X-ray crystallography – the standard structure determination technique – generally does not give information about hydrogen positions. The most unambiguous method for determining the hydrogen positions is neutron crystallography, which is very challenging as it requires large and well-ordered crystals. This PhD project aims to optimise the crystallisation of two proton pumps – bacteriorhodopsin and cytochrome c oxidase – to allow neutron crystallographic structure determination.
Qualifications: MSc or equivalent degree in a suitable subject (e.g. biochemistry). Experience with protein production and purification and/or protein crystallography is desirable. Candidates have to comply with the mobility criteria of the Marie Curie program.

To be successful and perform well in this position You rapidly learn new tasks and quickly understand newly presented information. You also gather comprehensive information to support decision making, learn from successes and failures and collect, catalogue, and disseminate knowledge of use to the organisation.
We expect you to be able to analyse numerical and verbal data, make rational judgments from the available information and demonstrate an understanding of how one issue may be a part of a much larger system. Sharing expertise and knowledge with others will be essential, and you develop your own job knowledge and expertise through continual professional development.
Our work environment is characterised by fast growth, high rate of work, and an international atmosphere with highly academic personnel. You must therefore enjoy the diversity of such and have a personality suited for the challenges it holds. In this growing organisation you will have the possibility to take part in developing new routines and processes. Our work environment is exciting and forward thinking and relies heavily on personal initiative.
What ESS can offer: At ESS we offer people with talent and passion a unique opportunity to be involved in the development and building of a world leading facility for materials and life science research. Besides attractive employment and relocation conditions, the flexibility to balance work life with private life and good opportunities to further enhance your skills; you will also enjoy being part of an organisational culture that promotes and supports internal career growth. We pride ourselves in having successful collaboration across different functions, and as the facility continues to grow we will keep nurturing the international and vibrant environment welcoming people from all across the world.
Duration & Location: This is a 3-year time-limited employment. Your work place will be situated in Lund, Sweden.

Start date: The position is to be filled as soon as possible.

Expression of Interest & Contact: Further details on this project are available from Dr. Esko Oksanen esko.oksanen@esss.se at the European Spallation Source ESS ERIC.

Formal application to ESS: Please provide your curriculum vitae and cover letter in English by clicking on “apply” and following the instructions. Please note we only accept applications via the ESS website.

For more information regarding the ESS recruitment process, please follow this link https://europeanspallationsource.se/ess-recruitment-process. For further information regarding the position, please contact Dr. Esko Oksanen esko.oksanen@esss.se. For further information regarding the recruitment process, please contact HR Officer, Sara Margaryan, sara.margaryan@esss.se.

Author: Richard Sear

Computational physicist at the University of Surrey. My research interests are in crystallisation, soft matter & biological physics