PhD position Develop next generation Atomistic Force Fields to investigate proteins in salty, Duisburg-Essen University, Germany

Molecular dynamics simulations using classical atomistic force fields have yielded unprecedented insight into biomolecular systems. The commonly used force fields to study these systems are currently appropriate for low concentrations. However, the cytoplasm or of the extra cellular matrix have a high total concentration of non-water molecules: biopolymers, sugars, nucleotides, other proteins, small molecules, and salt. In this project we aim to develop next-generation, classical, atomistic force fields that can adequately capture the structure and the energetics of interactions of biomolecular systems
with complex composition. We will use the force fields to investigate the mechanisms governing the stability of proteins in multimolar salt concentrations, typical of halophilic (salt-rich) environments.

Funding: The position has guaranteed funding for 36 months through the Cluster of Excellence RESOLV ( Salary will be paid at the TVL-13 75% level: this corresponds to a regular work contract with healthcare, social security, paid parental leave and paid vacation. Teaching duties amount to a maximum of 22% of the work time. Guaranteed funds are available to attend yearly conferences, for a 3-month research stay an international research group, and to participate in soft skill courses.

- Bachelor and Master degrees with grade A (in the German system this corresponds to a grade of 1.5 or better) in Physics, Physical-Chemistry, or related areas.
- Grade A in the following subjects, taken at Bachelor or MSc. level: calculus (2 semesters), intro statistical mechanics, intro quantum mechanics, physical-chemistry, programming (python, C, Fortran or similar).
- Prior experience with at least ONE of the following techniques:
i) Energy decomposition calculations from first principles;
ii) Development of classical force fields for molecular dynamics simulations.
- Excellent programming skills.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills in English.

Prior experience with the molecular dynamics software package OpenMM is an advantage.

Contact: The position is based in the group of Dr. Ana Vila Verde ( at the Physics department of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), in Duisburg, Germany. To apply, send a short (<0.5 page) motivation letter, a CV with contact information of referees, BSc. and MSc. transcripts (containing the names of the subjects taken and respective grades, as well as an explanation of the grading system) and a pdf of your MSc thesis (or BSc work, if thesis is not
ready) as pdfs to ana.araujo-vila-verde]![ All application materials must be in English and must be legible.

Research environment: The successful candidate will be a part of the Excellence cluster RESOLV (, which is a research initiative involving 200 scientists from 6 institutions in the German Ruhr area. The UDE is a full-fledged university, with 40000 undergraduates and 5000 graduates in all areas of knowledge; 25% of our doctoral students are international. Duisburg is 7 minutes away from the Dusseldorf airport.

The University of Duisburg-Essen aims to promote the diversity of its members (see It is seeking to increase the number of women on its scientific staff and therefore strongly encourages suitably qualified women to apply. In case of equal qualification, women will be given preference in accordance with state equal opportunity
legislation. Applications from suitable handicapped persons and equivalent applicants according to Article 2, Paragraph 3 of the social code (SGB IX) are also welcome.