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PhD Student icOS lab and ID29

The ESRF has a vacancy for a PhD Student, ideally with a background in X-ray crystallography

  • Closing soon
  • Closing date: 16 Aug 2020
  • France | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
  • Date posted: 16 Jul 2020
  • Job type: Research facilities
  • Disciplines: Accelerators, neutron & light sources  | Engineering & instrumentation

The European Synchrotron, the ESRF, is an international research centre based in Grenoble, France.

Through its innovative engineering, pioneering scientific vision and a strong commitment from its 700 staff members, the ESRF is recognised as one of the top research facilities worldwide. Its particle accelerator produces intense X-ray beams that are used by thousands of scientists each year for experiments in diverse fields such as biology, medicine, environmental sciences, cultural heritage, materials science, and physics.
Supported by 22 countries, the ESRF is an equal opportunity employer and encourages diversity.
Time-resolved macromolecular crystallography (TR-MX) at synchrotrons has long been limited to the use of the Laue diffraction technique and was only successful for a handful of biological systems. The recent advent of X-ray free-electron lasers has rejuvenated the field by fostering the development of serial crystallography, which consists in composing a complete data set from single diffraction images obtained from tens of thousands of microcrystals passing through a pulsed X-ray beam. The associated development of crystal injection techniques, coupled to the advent of faster, noiseless X-ray detectors, has paved the way for the revival of TR-MX at synchrotrons.

The EBSL8/ID29 beamline (beamline responsible, Daniele de Sanctis) currently under construction as part of the ESRF EBS Upgrade Project, has been designed to offer a variety of techniques and methods for TR-MX with a microsecond time resolution. Additionally, the ESRF Structural Biology Group has developed an oscillation-based TR-MX method, demonstrating its applicability with the study of a photoreceptor fragment at a time resolution of 63 ms (Aumonier et al., IUCrJ (2020)). We propose to study this target, as well as other photoreceptor fragments and photosensitive proteins, by various TR-MX methods (fixed-target-; grease injector-; tape-drive- or oscillation-based) to identify those which are most suitable for further development on EBSL8/ID29 and to make molecular movies at the lowest time resolution attainable, ideally 100 μs. This work will be performed in co-supervision with Prof. Arwen Pearson (CFEL, University of Hamburg, Germany) with whom previously developed methods for TR-MX will be evaluated using beamlines both at the ESRF and PETRA III, most particularly at the T-REXX endstation on beamline P14, operated by EMBL-Hamburg (Mehrabi et al., Nat. Methods (2019)).

Further information may be obtained from Antoine ROYANT (tel.: +33 (0)4 76 88 17 46, email:

  • Degree allowing enrollment for a PhD (such as MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent) in biology, chemistry, physics or closely related science
  • A background in X-ray crystallography is highly desirable as are basic skills in biochemistry and molecular biology
  • An interest in spectroscopy as applied to crystals of biological macromolecules would be an asset.
  • The candidate should show aptitude for team working and have good communications and initiative skills
  • Proficiency in English (working language at the ESRF)

Contract of two years employed by the ESRF, with a monthly gross salary of 2339 €, then of two years employed by the University of Hamburg.
The ESRF is an equal opportunity employer and encourages diversity.


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