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Chemistry Set
Apply by October 4th 2023
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Doctoral Researcher in catalytic modification of carbohydrates

The universities of Helsinki and Tampere, 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.

Of the eight researchers who will be 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 opportunity for diverse and complementary research from theory to applications in a highly motivated, cross-disciplinary environment, while focusing on research questions that are directly relevant to industry and business.

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.

The employer for this position is the Helsinki University.

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 will conduct research and contribute to the development of new methods and instrumentation for trace vapor and environmental pollution measurements. You will do instrument development, laboratory and field experiments and analyze the data of these experiments.

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.

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

DSII Scale-up Project requires the doctoral researcher to be ready to work on the campuses of both universities and also on the premises of the partner company when necessary.


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.

Therefore, you need to have an inquiring mind and the ability to think independently while also being able to work in a team and be an active member of the DSII community.

A good command of English, both in writing and in oral presentations, is required.

How to apply & more info

The position will be filled for a fixed-term period of four years, starting in fall 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter.

APPLY and find a more detailed description of the position, salary, and other terms of employment and working conditions on the University of Helsinki.

For further information, please contact:

Prof. Timo Repo, timo.repo(at)

Prof. Ville Santala, ville.santala(at)

If you have questions related to the recruitment system, please contact Head of HR  Hanna Nurmela,

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