PhD position in Applied Physics with focus on vibrational spectroscopic imaging of cells

Umeå, Sweden
29 Mar 2023
21 Apr 2023
AN 2.2.1-541-23
Job Type
PhD Studentship
Employment - Hours
Full time
Fixed term

The Department of Applied Physics and Electronics, Umeå University ( has around 100 employees, and we conduct strong research in the areas of biomedical engineering, applied optics and energy technology. We announce a PhD position focusing on laser-based vibrational spectroscopic imaging of lipids in living cells. Last day to apply is April 21, 2023. Starting date is August 1, 2023, or by agreement.

Project description

The Applied Optics group ( at Umeå University is looking for an outstanding PhD candidate interested in developing mid-infrared photothermal microscopy for fast chemical imaging of fatty acids in living cells.

Fatty acids are a group of lipids with important cellular functions, including energy production, energy storage and signalling, to control cell proliferation and metabolism. Inside cells, fatty acids can form lipid droplets, whose size, number and dynamics are related to the cell state. Uptake and metabolism of fatty acids occur fast and are tightly regulated in healthy cells. If deregulated, lipid signalling contributes to inflammation, cancer and metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Exactly how fatty acids enter cells and form lipid droplets is still poorly understood, mainly due to the lack of non-invasive imaging techniques that simultaneously provide high speed, sensitivity and spatial resolution.

The candidate will mainly perform experimental work to enable imaging of fatty acids tagged with vibrational probes that absorb light in the cell-silent region of the infrared spectrum. The overall aim is to visualize the cellular uptake of fatty acids and the behaviour of lipid droplets in vivo with high time resolution.

The project is conducted in close collaboration with medical researchers at Umeå University. Ample opportunities for cooperation with international research groups and applications in other areas of life science are foreseen.

The project is financed by the Swedish Research Council.


Prerequisites to be admitted to the postgraduate education include 240 ECTS credits of higher education studies, of which 60 ECTS credits should be on an advanced (master) level. Applicants who in some other system either within Sweden or abroad have acquired largely equivalent skills are also eligible. The requirements must be fulfilled at the time of admission to postgraduate education and need not be met at the time of application.

To fulfil the specific entry requirements to be admitted for studies at postgraduate level in applied physics, the applicant is required to have completed courses of at least 120 credits within the field of physics. Candidates are expected to have a master’s degree in engineering physics, chemistry, biomedical engineering or another closely related subject area considered to be relevant for third-cycle studies. Fluency in English is mandatory.

As successful candidate, you are expected to have knowledge in molecular spectroscopy and experience in experimental work with laser spectroscopy and/or optical imaging techniques. Expertise in programming (e.g., MATLAB, LabVIEW), optics, electronics, data acquisition and processing, and experience with the analysis of biological samples will be considered meritorious.

We are looking for a highly motivated, goal-oriented candidate with excellent problem-solving skills who is passionate about laser spectroscopy and chemical imaging and can work both independently and in an interdisciplinary research team. Since the project includes handling of chemicals, high-power lasers, and delicate optical equipment, you should have a high sense of responsibility and security awareness.

Terms of employment

The employment is expected to result in a dissertation and a doctoral degree. The main assignment for the doctoral student is thus to be active in research, attend doctoral courses, and possibly participate in teaching of courses at the undergraduate level (up to 20 %). The employment is limited to four years at full time studies or up to five years if teaching or other departmental work is performed. The salary is fixed according to the established salary level for doctoral students at Umeå University.


The application should contain:

  1. A cover letter with summary of research interests and motivation relevant for the position (max. 1 page).
  2. Curriculum vitae (CV).
  3. Certified copies of relevant degree certificate(s) translated to English or Swedish.
  4. Transcripts with grades, with English or Swedish translation. Note that for international (extra-EU) applicants the grading system should be explained in brief.
  5. Copies of student theses and publications (if any).
  6. Names and contact information of at least one reference person.

The application should be written in English (preferably) or Swedish and submitted via the e-recruitment system Varbi ( latest 2023-04-21


The employment is full-time for 48 months.

Starting date: August 1, 2023, or according to agreement.

For further information, contact Associate professor Florian Schmidt,, phone +46-(0)90-786 7611. 

More about the employer

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest higher education institutions with over 37 000 students and about 4 700 employees. The University offers a diversity of high-quality education and world-leading research in several fields. And the groundbreaking discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool, which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was made here. At Umeå University, everything is close. Our cohesive campuses make it easy to meet, work together and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture.

The ongoing societal transformation and large green investments in northern Sweden create enormous opportunities and complex challenges. For Umeå University, conducting research about – and in the middle of – a society in transition is what it is all about. But also about delivering education to enable regions to expand quickly and sustainably. This is simply where the future is built.

Are you interested in learning more? Read about Umeå university as a workplace.

We are looking forward to receiving your application!