Do you want to your research to enable a healthier, more sustainable planet?
We are searching for exceptional, motivated, students to research and develop next generation advanced materials and bioprocesses from the forest. We require Biochemists, Bioscientists, Chemists, Environmental Scientists and Microbiologists. The NXTGENWOOD research consortium funded via the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine [DAFM] will research and develop next generation wood-based advanced materials, bioprocesses, and products. The consortium is targeting applications in coatings/agriculture/healthcare and energy to realise high value products from Irish forests. PhD researchers from Irish universities, NUIG, TCD, UCC, UCD, and UL will work closely with wood producers, processors, and end users.
High quality candidates, ideally with international forestry research experience are sought for a range of positions detailed below.
To apply, in the first instance send a 2-page CV, with a 1-page cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday June 11th. Use the reference DAFM - 2019PROG704 in the e-mail subject/header, and specify which role you wish to apply for.
National University of Ireland Galway [PhD Student -– Biological Properties of Wood Products]
The Advanced Glycoscience Research Cluster (AGRC) at National University of Ireland Galway is seeking to recruit a PhD student for a four-year program. Working as an integral member of the Prof. Lokesh Joshi AGRC and the NXTGENWOOD consortium, the successful candidates will investigate the biological properties of wood products as potential prebiotics for human and ruminant health. The project will focus on depolymerisation, fractionation and characterisation of wood products, and will assess their biological properties using bacterial and mammalian in vitro models. BSc/MSc in Biochemistry, Biosciences, Chemistry or related discipline required [1.1, or 2.1 degree classification preferred]. PhD stipend ~€18,000 per annum.
Trinity College Dublin [PhD Student – Advanced Wood Materials & Processing]
Climate change and protection of the environment are two of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. This PhD position will be based in the TCD School of Chemistry [Prof. MA Morris] and the AMBER centre. The role will involve close collaboration with other TCD research groups, and other academic/industry collaborators. We seek an experienced researcher with wood science experience. International experience is preferred. The candidate will develop resins, coatings, and adhesives for wood products, with a view to enhanced durability and environmental resistance, and regulatory compliance. New composites may be developed via extrusion/moulding. This role will involve close collaboration with other TCD, and Irish university-based researchers, and industry. [1.1, or 2.1-degree classification preferred]. PhD stipend ~€18,000 per annum.
Trinity College Dublin [PhD Student – Green Chemistry for Wood Based Applications]
Climate change and protection of the environment are two of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. The PhD candidate will research environmentally friendly and sustainable biopolymers, coatings and resins for wood-based applications such as strengthening, forming and bonding. Applications will be developed for cross laminated timbers, medium density fibreboards or other wood related products. The aim is to move wood related process and products up the economic value chain, in a sustainable fashion, to mitigate global emissions of CO2 or related harmful gases. The position will be based in the TCD School of Chemistry [Prof. RP Babu] and AMBER. The successful candidate will be expected to work with teams of scientists based in other Irish research institutes. This project is part of a multi-institute project called NXTGENWOOD, funded by the Irish Government through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.PhD stipend ~€18,000 per annum. [1.1, or 2.1-degree classification preferred].
University College Dublin [1 PhD Student – Biology and Bioprocessing for the forest]
Forests are integral to a sustainable, circular European bioeconomy of the 21st century. This PhD student will work on the pre-treatment, separation, and bioprocessing of wood, and wood related waste streams, to develop high value, sustainable, bioprocesses. The candidate will convert wood lignin into lactic acid and lignin contaminated lignocellulose sugar mixtures to high protein yeast biomass. This work will be under the aegis of Prof. K. O’Connor, in conjunction with the BiOrbic centre, and academic/industry collaborators. The applicant will be qualified in Biotechnology, Microbiology or a related discipline [1.1, or 2.1-degree classification preferred]. PhD stipend ~€18,000 per annum.
University College Dublin [1 PhD Student – Chemistry for the forest of the 21st century]
Forests are integral to a sustainable, circular European bioeconomy of the 21st century. This PhD studentship will develop new chemistries to unlock more value and societal benefit from forest related materials. We will investigate novel reaction conditions, some employing homogeneous catalysis for the selective depolymerisation of lignin. Working in collaboration with other UCD collaborators, this student will identify optimal reaction conditions (reagents / catalysts) for the conversion of lignin to platform chemicals and expanding the use of lignin derived platform chemicals. The chemical utility of these platform chemicals for the production of natural products and/or compounds of medicinal interest will be examined. Project supervisor is Prof. P. Guiry, UCD [1.1, or 2.1 degree classification preferred]. PhD stipend ~€18,000 per annum.
University College Dublin [1 PhD Student – Life Cycle Assessment for more sustainable forests]
Effective management/protection of our environment and efficient deployment of resources is critical in addressing global climate change. A key challenge facing the wood sector is maintaining its carbon benefits whilst promoting wood as a potential substitute for non-renewable resources. In addition to forest ecosystems, wood products are carbon pools that must be strategically managed to mitigate climate change. This PhD will address forest growth models to evaluate the mitigation potential of the forest sector as a whole. The candidate will carry out a cradle-to-gate life cycle assessment to determine the effects of selected NxtGenWood products on the environment, considering impacts such as; global warming potential, freshwater eutrophication, acidification, energy demand, water use and land use. The research will be supervised by Dr. F. Murphy - https://people.ucd.ie/fionnuala.murphy. [1.1, or 2.1-degree classification preferred]. PhD stipend ~€18,000 per annum.
University College Dublin MSc – Supply Chain Optimisation for the Circular Economy
Effective management/protection of our environment and efficient deployment of resources is critical in addressing global climate change. A key challenge facing the wood sector is maintaining its carbon benefits whilst promoting wood as a potential substitute for non-renewable resources. In addition to forest ecosystems, wood products are carbon pools that must be strategically managed to mitigate climate change. This MSc will address supply chain optimisation to evaluate the potential for new forest-based R&D and innovation. The research will be supervised by Dr. F. Murphy - https://people.ucd.ie/fionnuala.murphy.
University College Dublin - MSc – Platform Chemicals from the Forest
Forests are integral to a sustainable, circular European bioeconomy of the 21st century. This MSc studentship will develop new chemistries to unlock more value and societal benefit from forest related materials. We will investigate novel reaction conditions, some employing homogeneous catalysis for the selective depolymerisation of lignin. The chemical utility of these platform chemicals for the production of natural products and/or compounds of medicinal interest will be examined. Project supervisor is Prof. P. Guiry, UCD.
If you are interested finding out more about AMBER, our areas of expertise, international funding highlights and forthcoming EU call topics please click the link below to download our brochure:
If you would like to speak to one of our team, please contact:
Deirdre Caden - Deirdre.Caden@tcd.ie
Claire Mc Kenna - Claire.McKenna@tcd.ie
AMBER’s Professor Mick Morris invites local voices to join online workshops on Ireland’s plastic problem
For Global Recycling Day on Thursday, 18th of March, one of Ireland’s foremost experts on plastic recycling, Professor Mick Morris, is calling for local community groups, families and individuals across Ireland to take part in a national discussion on changing opinions and behaviours relating to plastic packaging. You register your interest by emailing: email@example.com and we’ll be in touch!
Professor Morris is the Academic Director of AMBER – the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research. He is launching a new project to learn about consumer attitudes to plastics and to explore how we can use ‘purchasing power’ to take real action to reduce plastic production and discuss issues related to increasing plastic recycling.
AMBER want to speak to as many community groups as possible to gain a full understanding of local attitudes and to explore local solutions. They want to hear from community and grassroots organisations such as Tidy Towns committees, Men’s Sheds Associations, arts groups, GAA clubs, Irish Country Women’s Associations, farmers and rural development groups, urban development committees and environmental groups like Friday’s For Future.
Research by AMBER is already underway with industry across the country to develop innovative technologies which can effectively clean and recycle plastics on the island of Ireland in a way that reduces our national carbon footprint and invests in job creation in rural economies.
Speaking on Global Recycling Day, Prof Mick Morris said that Ireland has the opportunity to become a global leader in revolutionising plastic production and recycling.
He said: “Today, as individuals, our only real option to reduce plastic waste, is to recycle it. However, recycling as a process should be a last resort as it comes with its own carbon footprint. Recycling simply extends the lifetime of a material which was designed to become waste, but by designing for reuse we can break this cycle.
“In the past 15 years, we have seen how the public has stepped up to tackle problem plastics – but we have more to do. We know that there is a strong appetite to do better, Ireland recycles 30% of it’s plastic compared to the global average of 10%, but that hasn’t improved in the last 5 years. The problem persists because we are trying to solve this problem at wrong end – we need to go back to the materials, design and build to achieve true sustainability.”
Prof Morris sees a role for everyone to solve this problem – from the questions corporations need to ask themselves at the beginning of the consumer chain, to the purchasing powers of individuals in their local supermarket.
“We believe that the problem starts at the point of design and production and that we as scientists can focus on alternatives that use less plastic, cleaner plastics, or even glass to give those corporations better options. However, there may be other solutions that people might prefer – like a plastic bottle leasing scheme, incentivised refill services, or local sharing schemes – that’s why we’re seeking to put people power to good effect through AMBER’s new project– we want to understand what people want, so that we can understand how Ireland can do better, and how we can make that happen.
“We feel it’s important to talk to representative groups from every corner of Ireland because we want to find solutions that work for everyone and we know how much that will depend on local amenities and infrastructure. We need local voices to have their say so that Ireland, as a whole, can lead the way on this global problem.”
Scientists at the School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin, with collaborators at Yale University, USA, CentraleSupelec, France, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, have developed a tiny chip-scale laser system to harvest quantum fluctuations in semiconductor lasers on ultrasmall scales at unprecedented speed. The new technology can be used to underpin modern technologies’ requirements for randomly generated digital information.
Their technique, published today in Science, uses a specially designed hour-glass-shaped semiconductor laser to generate hundreds of tiny, random light waves that when detected with a device called a photodetector, can be transformed into random strings of ‘1’s and ‘0’s, or binary code, the foundation of modern digital communications.
The quest for this level of randomness is not automatically visible – but is vital for day-to-day digital communications. Randomness, particularly truly random randomness, is a valuable resource. Our ever-increasing reliance on e-commerce, internet based financial services and virtual social contacts, depends on how well and how fast these processes and interactions can be protected from unwanted access or observation through random-keys and random-number based encryption.
The problem is that today’s random numbers are usually at best, ‘pseudo-random’ numbers, generated by a computer using special algorithms to calculate a sequence of numbers that appears ‘random’. There is a key limitation in this approach: the ‘random sequence’ is only random to a point because it is generated from a deterministic algorithm meaning this encryption can be ‘cracked’ by a fast computer, or other avenue.
Given the potential scale of the problem researchers have started to explore physical sources of randomness, such as randomly generated steams of light, while acknowledging that the key technical challenges for physical random number generation are speed and scalability. Looking at how the physical properties of light-matter interactions might be harnessed, scientists looked at lasers, as Professor Ortwin Hess, from the School of Physics and the CRANN Institute at Trinity, explains:
“Normal semiconductor lasers emit coherent light, light that is uniform and that can be focused to a tight beam. To produce and amplify this light inside a laser, it first travels around a cavity through semiconductor gain materials. In previous designs of large-area semiconductor lasers this bouncing back and forth of light creates optical filaments – sections of the light that swiftly begin to act chaotically. The optical filaments are a bit like optical tornadoes. Once they form, they move about chaotically leading to chaotic and unruly light. However, these ‘optical tornadoes’ have a characteristic size and speed, so that in current semiconductor lasers there is an upper limit on how much randomness can be generated in space and at any given period of time.”
To create more random and spatially unconnected ‘optical tornados’ the team designed a new cavity-shape for the laser. The shape of a lasers’ cavity is important; it does for light what the body of different string instruments does for sound. Very different sounds can be created from different ‘shaped’ string instruments from a violin to double-bass, as the body of the instrument interacts with acoustic waves generated from vibrating strings.
In the case of (edge-emitting) semiconductor lasers, most cavities are cuboid in shape, but by changing this to an hour-glass shaped cavity, the team were able to induce optical tornados on much smaller scales ‘harvesting’ the quantum noise allowing a massively parallel arrangement and essentially more randomness at much higher speeds.
Professor Hess, who contributed much of the theory and interpretation of the semiconductor laser dynamics in the study said: “By creating an optical landscape that supports significantly smaller optical ‘mini-tornados’ that all very efficiently and directly ‘harvest’ the endless supply of quantum fluctuations via spontaneous emission on ultrafast time scales, making them both fast, scalable and truly random”
The team gained insight into the processes and cavity shapes likely to create this kind of laser from theories and experiments in laser cavities and semiconductor laser dynamics, quantum chaos and quantum nanophotonics.
Professor Hui Cao, from Yale University, said: “Our laser cavity serves as a resonator for optical waves, and we have designed its shape to resonate with many spatio-temporal modes of light so that light in these modes will be amplified. The emission from all these modes creates a broad frequency spectrum for intensity fluctuations, which we utilize for massively parallel ultrafast random bit generation.
Professor Hess added: “I have been working on spatio-temporal and quantum dynamics in semiconductor lasers since my PhD, so it is gratifying to return to it now with the knowledge gained from metamaterials and nanophotonics. Physically generating randomness based on a quantum process is a key to many applications in security and data modelling but, in particular, for quantum simulation of new materials that, in turn, help us to design and enable practical quantum technologies at room-temperature.”
‘Massively parallel ultrafast random bit generation with a chip-scale laser’, Kyungduk Kim, Stefan Bittner, Yongquan Zeng, Stefano Guazzotti, Ortwin Hess, Qi Jie Wang and Hui Cao is published in Science [DOI: 10.1126/science.abc2666]