The University of Helsinki – among the best in the world
The University of Helsinki is one of the best multidisciplinary research universities in the world. In addition to its 11 faculties, the University of Helsinki includes several independent institutes, some of which are jointly operated with other universities. The University of Helsinki is an international academic community of 40,000 students and staff members. It operates on four campuses in Helsinki and at 15 other locations.

The Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, located on the Viikki Campus, promotes the sustainable use of natural resources and human wellbeing through scientific research and research-based teaching. The Faculty’s key areas of education and research are food, agricultural, forest and environmental sciences, and economics in relation to these areas. The Faculty has 3,200 undergraduate and postgraduate students and employs 500 experts.

The Department of Food and Environmental Sciences is the biggest department of the faculty with its 200 employees and 500 BSc and MSc students as well as 100 doctoral students.

The Department of Food and Environmental Sciences invites applications for a position of


for a fixed-term from 1st October 2017 to 31st December 2018.

Wood-based stabilizers ‒ how do they function in food?

Roughly one third of wood mass is composed of hemicelluloses (xylans, mannans) – polysaccharides that are not currently being exploited industrially, because methods for their recovery from lignocellulosic biomass in an economic and efficient way were previously lacking. Hemicellulose isolation methods have advanced significantly within the past years and interesting samples are available for research. In future, the estimated amount of raw material from forestry biorefineries is significant. It would benefit both the environment and economy if this natural resource is valorized and used. It depends on the application potential of hemicelluloses, whether their recovery is worth of industrial investments. According to their chemical structure, hemicelluloses could be suitable as food stabilizers.

We have found that softwood galactoglucomannans efficiently stabilize oil-in-water emulsions against both physical breakdown and lipid oxidation. Thus they could be used as multifunctional stabilizers and replace several less effective food additives. Future research questions focus on 1) deeper understanding of the chemical stabilization mechanisms, 2) roles of co-components, such as phenolic compounds, on stabilization, and 3) characterizing the functionality of hemicellulose-stabilized emulsions in digestion.

We are looking for a highly motivated and skilled postdoctoral researcher with a PhD in food or analytical chemistry, or other related fields. The postdoctoral researcher is expected to contribute to research on polysaccharide and lipid characterization, student supervision, and education on food sciences. A successful candidate should be able to:
• Identify, design, conduct, and report research on hemicellulose emulsions from chemical, analytical, and nutritional perspectives.
• Contribute to the master and doctoral student supervision and teaching of food science.
• Contribute to proposal writing.
• Engage with scientific community, research partners and the wider public at all levels, internationally and domestically through scientific publications as well as for example through social media (blogs, etc.).


Education, experience and technical skills
• Doctoral degree, knowledge, and experience in chemical sciences, lipid and/or polysaccharide analytics, and biomaterials.
• Experience in student supervision.
• Knowledge of physicochemical methods for characterizing food structures is an advantage.
• Fluency in English and excellent writing skills.

Personal attributes and competencies
• Excellent analytical and innovative research planning skills.
• Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, experienced in working within multicultural and multidisciplinary research teams.
• High motivation for academic research, having initiative and capable of working independently as well as in team environments.
• Values continuous improvement based on constructive evaluation, self-reflection and learning.

The salary of the successful candidate will be based on level 5 of the demands level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary component based on personal performance. The starting salary will be ca. 3100-3500 euros/month, depending on the appointee’s qualifications and experience. There is four-month trial period for the position.

Applications should include (1) CV with a list of publications, (2) contact details for three references, (3) a brief potential research plan how to characterize polysaccharide-stabilized emulsions (max one page), and (4) a copy of your PhD thesis.

Please submit your application as a single pdf file using the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link Apply for job. Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are requested to leave their application via the SAP HR portal. The deadline for the application is September 3rd, 2017.

Additional information can be obtained from Docent Kirsi Mikkonen (kirsi.s.mikkonen(at)

Hae viimeistään 03.09.2017

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