Open positions

I am always seeking for talented young researchers who would be interested in discussing research opportunities in my group. In addition to the specific calls mentioned below, any motivated candidate is encouraged to contact me to discuss about other opportunities, either from the ERC ABIOS grant, or from other sources of local or European funding that can be considered once a candidate has been identified.

In all cases, interested candidates should contact me by e-mail, together with an up-to-date curriculum vitae and contact information for one or two references. 

 

Thermophoresis: PhD position for Fall 2018


In modern cells, molecules are confined by membranes in a volume on the order of a few femtoliters, resulting in concentrations that critically enhance reaction rates. How can an efficient chemistry leading to the emergence of life take place in an ocean, a puddle or even a water droplet, which are considerably larger? Since 2006, pioneer experiments have shown that thermally-driven processes such as thermophoresis can accumulate otherwise dilute precursors at localized spots acting as thermal traps for RNA strands oligomerization. From an experimental perspective, this transport phenomenon has several other key applications in biochemistry. However, the nature of thermophoresis is still not completely understood and is highly debated. The goal of this PhD will be to use all-atom molecular dynamics simulations and analytical modeling to gain a deeper understanding of thermophoresis. The expected duration of the PhD will be 3 years starting in Fall 2018, but could be extended if necessary. Candidates with a background in molecular physics and/or physical chemistry and holding Master degree or equivalent are encouraged to apply, and should send me an email with their curriculum vitae and contact information for one or two references. An experience in computer programming would be an advantage, but is not required. Candidates should apply as soon as possible this Spring. This position will be funded by the ERC StG ABIOS.

 

Phosphoester bond formation: PhD position for Fall 2018


The idea that life would have evolved from RNA-based enzymatic systems preceding modern proteins – later coined as the “RNA World” hypothesis – has been considerably reinforced by the discovery that RNA, which can carry genetic information, is also capable of catalysis. An ultimate proof would be the experimental evidence for RNA synthesis and self-replication in abiotic conditions. But despite 70 years of intense research, the demonstration has not been achieved. In particular, the formation of phosphoester bonds between RNA nucleotides in abiotic conditions remains very challenging. In order to enhance the reaction rate in abiotic conditions while improving its regioselectivity, a variety of more reactive intermediates and/or catalysts have been experimentally suggested, but the energetics of the reaction and the effect of such conditions are poorly understood at a theoretical level. The goal of this PhD will be to use ab-initio molecular dynamics as well as mixed quantum/classical approaches to gain a deeper molecular understanding of phosphoester bond formation, and to understand how plausible catalysts and activators can help enhance the rate and the regioselectivity of the reaction. The PhD candidate will learn how to use distributed classical and ab-initio molecular dynamics packages for systems, how to use advanced accelerating techniques, how to extract relevant molecular information from the simulated trajectories, and how to implement additional simulation algorithms if required. The expected duration of the PhD will be 3 years starting in Fall 2018, but could be extended if necessary. Candidates with a background in molecular physics and/or physical chemistry and holding Master degree or equivalent are encouraged to apply, and should send me an email with their curriculum vitae and contact information for one or two references. An experience in computer programming would be an advantage, but is not required. Candidates should apply as soon as possible this Spring. This position will be funded by the ERC StG ABIOS.