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Postdoctoral position in Directed Evolution

100%, Zurich, fixed-term
The recently formed group of Dr. Macarena Toll-Riera ( is seeking a Postdoctoral researcher to study the evolvability of a cold-adapted enzyme through the combination of experimental and high-throughput sequencing approaches. We are hosted at the Institute of Integrative Biology (ETH Zurich), in the Professorship of Evolutionary Biology.

Project background

Many mutations that improve protein function are detrimental because they affect protein stability. However, extra-stable proteins can accumulate mutations that improve protein function without compromising the stability of the protein, suggesting that higher protein stability could facilitate adaptation (Bloom et al., 2006).

Cold-adapted enzymes have unique structural characteristics (i.e. lower protein stability and higher flexibility) that allow them to thrive in cold temperatures. In this project we will investigate how these unique structural characteristics affect their evolvability.

Job description

The candidate will use a directed evolution approach to evolve a cold-adapted and a mesophilic β-lactamase towards resistance to antibiotics. She/he will couple directed evolution experiments to sequencing to identify the mutations that confer resistance to antibiotics. The successful candidate will be encouraged to design and undertake additional projects.

We offer three years of funding and to be part of a small, but collaborative and dynamic group. We are hosted at the Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich. The candidate will benefit from a vibrant and interdisciplinary academic environment with excellent opportunities for education, training and collaboration. Aside from the high quality of life, Zurich provides easy access to outdoor activities.

Your profile

The successful candidate should have a genuine interest in evolutionary biology, a strong background in microbiological techniques and molecular cloning and have a good command of English. Programming skills and experience analysing next-generation sequencing data are an asset.

The candidate should be highly motivated, enthusiastic, curious and able to work independently but also as a team member.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
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We look forward to receiving your application with the following documents: statement of research interests, CV including publication list, academic records, and contact information for 2-3 potential references.  Please send your application (one single PDF file) by email to Macarena Toll-Riera ( We will start to revise applications on 15st of April, until position is filled.

Starting date: mid 2021.

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