2020-03-Offer for a Thesis Allowance - Subject: Development of a biosensor for pesticide detection

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E2S: Energy and Environment Solutions
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Offer for a Thesis AllowanceSubject: Development of a biosensor for pesticide detection

Scientific context

A wide variety of organic pollutants is present in natural and treated water sources, in particular pesticides. The conventional method for their detection and quantification is mass spectrometry, often in combination with gas or liquid chromatography. Since these are expensive, time-consuming, require a skilled labour, and are not suitable for on-site and real time analyses, current research efforts are devoted to develop cost effective disposable sensors based on specific targeting coupled to optical or electrochemical detection. However, an emerging method involving nucleic acid aptamers for pollutant detection is currently explored. These nucleic acids have been widely used as recognition elements in biosensor development, especially in the detection of pathogens (Escherichia coli), drugs (cocaine), hormones (β-oestradiol), organic pollutants (bisphenol-A), etc.


PhD project


The main objective of the proposed PhD project is the development of an aptamer-based biosensor for on-site and real time electrochemical quantitative analysis of pesticides. Aptamers selection against pesticides of interest, their surface tethering and thedevelopment of an electrochemical platform based on screen-printed electrodes will be explored over the time course of this PhD project

Key words: Pesticides, aptamers, polymers, biochemistry, electrochemistry, biosensing, monitoring

Expected results:

The first year of this PhD project will thus be devoted to the selection of specific aptamers against the pesticides of interest. The activities conductedduring the second year will be related to the electrode surface modification to achieve specific and sensitive aptamer-based electrochemical detection of the analyte whereas during the last year, the efficiency of the biosensor will be evaluated to eventually achieve on-site and real time quantitative electrochemical analysis of pesticides(voltammetry, impedance spectroscopy).


Working conditions

Hosting laboratories: Institute of Analytical Sciences and Physical Chemistry for Environment and Materials (IPREM), UMR CNRS 5254.

Laboratory expertise: The Institute of Analytical Sciences and Physical Chemistry for the Environment and Materials (IPREM) is a mixedresearch unit of the National Research Centrefor Science (CNRS) and of the UPPA (UMR 5254).Research activities focus onthe development of fundamental knowledge in physical chemistry, analytical chemistry and microbiology, in relation to applications concerning the structure of living matter, environmental monitoringand the functional properties of different classes of materials.Analytical strategies, modelling, physicochemical approaches, fine studies of structures and reactivity, development, characterization and implementation at different length scales are the major skills available in the institute, which enable an original positioningin severalfieldsof application andin variousindustrial sectors atbothnational and international levels.IPREM is locatedon 4 different sites: Pau (Helioparc and UPPACampus), Anglet and Mont de Marsan.

Localisation: Technopôle Helioparc, 2 avenue Pierre Angot, 64053 Pau Cedex 9, France
Since the aptamer selection will be conducted in close collaboration with Novaptech, the PhD candidate will spend about a year of the thesis duration in Bordeaux (France), 200 km north of Pau.

PhD supervisor: Corinne Nardin

Starting date: as early as possible

Length: 3 years

Employer: UPPA, doctoral school ED 211 Doctoral School of Exact Sciences and their Applications

Gross monthly salary: 1768€ / month
(UPPA doctoral contract which excludes extra gratification for teaching duties – 32h per year; to be discussed)

Funding: This PhD position is funded by the region Nouvelle Aquitaine and the Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (UPPA), with the support of Novaptech; all entities are located in France


Required skills and competences - Who can apply ?

The ideal candidate has a Master degree in general chemistry or inrelated disciplines such as analytical chemistry, polymer physical chemistry or material science.

He/She is passionate for identifying solutions to environment related concerns and for multidisciplinary research.

A previous experience in either aptamer selection, biochemistry, polymer physical chemistry or electrochemistry would be a plus.

The candidate should have a strong predilection for laboratory work. Team working abilities are highly appreciated. 

He/She is rigorous and highly motivated, with the capacity to work autonomously.

Good knowledge in English and good writing skills are required.


Application - Evaluation criteria

Application file assessment: Selection committee

Candidates will first be selected based on their application file.
Those selected after this first step, will then be interviewed: the candidate, through a five minutes presentation in English, will introduce his/her education, the main outcomes of his/her master thesis and his/her motivation for the proposed project.

Application files will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Candidate's motivation, scientific maturity and curiosity
  • Academic results : grades and ranking in Licence/undergraduate, M1 and M2 ; steadiness in the academic background
  • English language proficiency
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Candidate’s ability to present her/his work and results
  • Professional experience (e.g. Work experience similar to an internship in a laboratory – or likewise, any previously achieved research work, reports, publications ...)

Application file composition and submission deadline

Application must be sent to the following email address with the title “Doctoral application”: corinne.nardin @ univ-pau.fr and the following documents attached (altogether, in a single pdf file):

  • CV (max 2 pages) including the publication list when applicable
  • Cover letter detailing the candidate's motivations (max 2 pages)
  • Copy of your Bachelor and Master diplomas as well as academic records (marks and ranking)
  • Letter(s) of recommendation (if any)
  • Contact details ( Name and e-mail addresses) of 2 referees


Submission deadline : May 29th, 2020


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