PhD Student, Computational Biology

Are you interested in a PhD student position and looking for a next step in your science career? Would you like to do impactful research in the cutting edge of natural sciences with superb colleagues who are top experts in their field? Do you want to build a science career and work in a versatile role at the interface of academy and industry? VTT might be just the place for you.

VTT is one of the leading applied research organisations in Europe. What unites us are curiosity, a passion for learning, and a purpose: to solve the biggest challenges of our time and turn them into sustainable growth and well-being. Our cross-disciplinary community of over 2000 brilliant minds focuses on creating impact through science-based innovation. In recent years, we have created ground-breaking innovations such as the world's fastest and most accurate radiation detector, a cancer-sniffing sensor device for smartphones, and a headphone set entirely made of microbial materials. Get to know us further by exploring VTT's tech & infra.

We are now looking for a PhD Student to join our Computational Biology team.

Join us to develop process models and Digital Twins of biotechnological processes of all flavours, advancing automation, digitalization and efficiency in industrial biotechnology. In your work, you will study various biotechnological systems and describe their dynamics, parameter correlations and interdependencies through mathematical and data-driven models. You will work with a range of organisms – yeasts, filamentous fungi, bacteria and algae. In addition to the modelling work, you will support experimental work in the lab and conduct experimental planning.

We have several ongoing publicly funded projects, to which you will contribute. The EU-funded project BIOS aims to implement the concept of bio-intelligence for bio-manufacturing and thereby accelerate the Design-Build-Test-Learn Cycle of synthetic biology. BIOS is under the umbrella of IBISBA, a European Infrastructure for Industrial Biotechnology which provides access to advanced multidisciplinary services that accelerate end-to-end bioprocess development. The Academy of Finland funded project MIDAS develops monitoring and control approaches for microalgae cultivations and is part of the EU’s Green and Digital Transition program.

You will be supervised by a team of experts who have solid competencies in the art. The work will be carried out at VTT’s Industrial Biotechnology and Food Solutions research area in Otaniemi/Espoo, in cooperation with project partners from all over Europe. The studies linked to the PhD degree will be planned together with your supervising professor. A research visit to one of Europe’s research organizations is a possibility as well. Your work will advance fundamental and applied research within the digitalization of industrial biotechnology. In addition, it will strengthen the network between VTT’s collaboration partners and research infrastructures.

As PhD Student, you will:

  • Have the possibility to fulfil your passion and ambition as a researcher
  • Create process models of microbial cultivations through analysis of bioreactor data/measurements
  • Apply computational modeling and machine learning to develop tools and pipelines
  • Collaborate with other experts to develop model-guided solutions to bioprocess development
  • Plan and execute experimental work
  • Contribute to research and development projects and to writing proposals for public funding
  • Present and report your findings in conferences and scientific papers
  • Complete your doctoral studies

Who we are looking for:

  • You have a Master of Science or equivalent degree in control engineering, biotechnology, bioprocess engineering or a related field and are eligible for PhD studies
  • You have high ambition to work as an independent researcher
  • You have expertise of modelling dynamic systems through ordinary differential equations and simulating these systems
  • You have prior experience with or interest in microbial physiology
  • You can communicate fluently in English both verbally and in writing

Additionally, you ideally have one or more of the following skills

  • Control theory for nonlinear dynamic systems, especially model predictive control
  • Programming skills in Matlab, Julia, Python or similar computing languages
  • Prior experience with metabolic and/or process modelling
  • Prior experience with bioprocess engineering
  • Experience in any of the following areas: bioprocess engineering, microbiology, bioanalytics, machine learning

As a person, we hope that you are:

An open-minded and innovative person with a vision on longer term research needs. You enjoy challenges and are eager to work with new topics and methods, even out of your comfort zone, to achieve the set ambitious goals. We appreciate the ability to tolerate pressure and maintain a good work-life balance, as well as the willingness to collaborate with experts and partners across different fields. A successful candidate will also be able to operate independently as part of an international team and speak and write well in English.

With VTT, you’ll enjoy:

  • Natural sciences with an impact. VTT works on the cutting-edge of natural sciences, and we've invested in building state-of-the-art research facilities for natural sciences, such as the Bioruukki pilot infrastructure for bio- and circular economy. Our research agenda is dedicated to solving systemic and technological challenges, such as reaching carbon neutrality and unleashing the power of synthetic biology. That means that at VTT, your expertise in natural sciences will go towards creating a real impact. Read more about our strategy – the path of exponential hope
  • Superb colleagues and community. With VTT, you'll join a community of over 2000 multidisciplinary experts who foster a culture of trust, openness, and sharing of knowledge. We work across disciplines and house all the cutting-edge sciences, from quantum computing to synthetic biology, under one roof. Collaborating with superb colleagues is a source of learning, inspiration, and fun. Read more about our organisational culture as the builder of the world's most meaningful place to work.
  • Excellent career in research. At VTT, excellence in research is a strategic priority. We offer long-term positions and stable career paths in top-level research. People tend to stay with us for over ten years since there are always new roles and responsibilities to grow into. A combination of cutting-edge academic research and applied customer projects keeps your career path interesting.
  • Support for your well-being. Our people are our main asset, so we take good care of them. We aim to nurture excellent team spirit and leadership and offer versatile well-being services to enable a good work-life balance. On top of 6 weeks of paid holidays, we offer exercise and culture benefits, hobby clubs, and voluntary well-being services such as meditation and cognitive ergonomics training.

Apply now and join our community of brilliant minds!

Please send your CV and application with your salary request via our recruitment system as soon as possible but at the latest by 11 June 2023. We will process applications as they come in and fill the position as soon as we find the right candidate. A security clearance procedure may be conducted during the recruitment process.

Interested and want to know more?

For further information, please contact Research Team Leader Heli Nygren,, +358407516999 or Senior Scientist Dorothee Barth,, +358407232838 on Monday 5 June 14.00 - 15.00 or Friday 9 June 10.00 - 11.00.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Apply between and
Employment type: Full-time, Permanent


VTT is a visionary research, development and innovation partner. We drive sustainable growth and tackle the biggest global challenges of our time and turn them into growth opportunities. We go beyond the obvious to help the society and companies to grow through technological innovations. We have 80 years of experience of top-level research and science-based results. VTT is at the sweet spot where innovation and business come together.

VTT – beyond the obvious.

Location: Tekniikantie 21, Espoo

Please see our other open positions and read more about us from our career pages.


PhD Student, Computational Biology

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