PhD Position in Biology

Utrecht University


PhD Position in Biology


Job description

Join this ERC funded project as PhD candidate and help us resolve how male germ cells become spermatozoa and acquire motility. You will join a dynamic and enthusiastic research group where you will combine state-of-the-art cryo-ET/cryo-EM workflows with biochemical assays to advance our knowledge of sperm maturation.

Sperm are highly specialised cells whose structure is optimised for one defined function: to deliver the male genetic material to the female egg cell. Although the distinct sperm ultrastructure has been known for many years thanks to electron microscopy, the molecular details of how sperm gets its distinctive shape are still lacking. Over the past few years the Cellular Structural Biology of Fertilization research group of Dr. Tzviya Zeev-Ben-Mordehai has pioneered the use of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and tomography (cryo-ET) to study mature sperm at the molecular level. The group resolved the first in-cell structures of mammalian sperm flagella, revealing unique microtubule inner proteins (EMBO J 2021 40:e107410; Cell 2023 186:2880) and showing how the distinctive sperm centrioles facilitate the coupling of sperm tail beating with asymmetric head kinking (Nat Comm 2021 12:3803).

Pursuing a PhD in our group will offer you the opportunity to:

  • learn cryo-EM single particle analysis grid preparation, data collection and processing;
  • acquire skills in cutting-edge cryo-electron-tomography and sub-tomogram averaging;
  • gain a deeper understanding of sperm biology;
  • develop academic skills such as effective scientific communications (written and oral), building collaboration networks and teaching.


To be successful in the application you should:

  • have (or will soon complete) a Master's degree in Molecular life sciences, preferably Structural Biology or a closely related field;
  • have advanced (theoretical) knowledge of multiple of the following subjects: Structural Bioinformatics, Molecular Imaging, Cryo-Electron Microscopy, Biophysics, Biochemistry, Molecular modeling;
  • be highly motivated, able to deal with challenges, be creative and like to work in a collaborative environment;
  • have excellent oral and written skills in English (C1).

Previous hands-on experience in cryo-Electron Microscopy is not required, but will be considered a significant advantage.

  • an academic environment with several world-class scientists, where English is the main language;
  • academic training in our Molecular Life Sciences programme;
  • a supportive environment with a commitment to academic development and maintaining a healthy work-life balance;
  • a position for 4 years;
  • a full-time gross salary ranging from € 2,541 in the first year to €3,247 in the fourth year in scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities;
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, professional development, (partly paid) parental leave, sports and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

Are you an international applicant? Find out more about what our International Service desk does and for more info about the what and how on living in the Netherlands.

About the organization

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Sharing science, shaping tomorrow.

At the Faculty of Science, there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects.

The work will be performed in the research group of Dr. Zeev-Ben-Mordehai, which is part of the Structural Biochemistry section. The group offers a collaborative environment with an extensive computing infrastructure for data processing. We have access to the in-house Electron Microscopy Centre, which houses instrumentation for cryo-EM and particularly cryo-ET.

The Structural Biochemistry group is part of the Bijvoet Centre for Biomolecular Research which coordinates the Molecular Life Sciences PhD programme and offers regular seminars by scientists from all over the world, access to advanced courses and regular PhD evenings for PhDs and postdocs to present their work and enhance social cohesion within the Bijvoet Centre. The Bijvoet Centre comprises six research sections that form a collaborative environment focussing on elucidating the structure of the biomolecules that make up all living organisms. In addition, The Bijvoet Centre has a state-of-the-art Protein Research Centre that is equipped for protein production, purification and analysis. 

Additional information

If you have any questions about the position that you’d like us to answer, please contact: Dr. Tzviya Zeev-Ben-Mordehai (associate professor) at

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to


Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. 

To apply, please send your curriculum vitae, including a letter of motivation, via the ‘apply now’ button.

 Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • the name, telephone number, and email address of at least two references.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is

In your application, please refer to


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