Student projects

Open positions

The topics are centred around the research of our section, which ranges from rather chemically oriented research focussing on green chemistry to detailed understanding of enzymes and fundamental biochemistry via spectroscopic tools to therapeutic agents. 

All projects sketched below are currently available in the group of Biocatalysis. They represent a selection of the current research themes in a multidisciplinary environment. Due to the dynamic nature of the research performed here we often have also addition topics available and a short talk with the faculty of the section will almost always help to match your expectations with a suitable project. For further information, please contact the group leaders indicated at the different general topics directly.

Photobiocatalytic redox reactions

(contact: Dr. Frank Hollmann)

In this theme, we aim at combining photocatalysis with biocatalysis.
Hence, (sun)light is used as driving force to promote highly specific enzymatic reduction and oxidation reactions.

Enzymatic C-C-bond formation

(contact: Prof. dr. Ulf Hanefeld)

C-C bond construction is the key to building up larger carbon frameworks and molecules. In Delft we focus on hydroxynitrile lyases and similar enzymes for these reactions. With these enzymes a plethora of interesting building blocks can be constructed. This technology is applied in the conversion of renewable materials into high value added materials such as fine chemicals and pharmaceutical.

Enzymes that catalyse reactions that are difficult for Chemists

(contact: Dr. Linda Otten and prof. dr. Ulf Hanefeld)


Microbiologists have discovered a wealth of enzymes, which are the catalysts of nature. In our projects we aim at finding enzyme for specific chemical reactions, such as the hydration of renewable materials. Typically reactions are addressed that are very difficult to achieve with current chemistry tools, thus we enable chemistry with biological tools. Additionally we aim at broadening the substrate range and the stability of these enzymes for application under production conditions. For this libraries of mutants of these enzymes are made, and tested for the target reaction.

How do enzymes work?

(contact: Prof. dr. S. de Vries)

 The structures of very many enzymes are known, including those of membrane bound enzymes, thanks to X-ray crystallography. So we have a good idea how enzymes ‘look’. However, how they work is a different and complex story. Our research focuses on the catalytic mechanism of respiratory enzymes active in energy metabolism, for example, aerobic respiration and anaerobic denitrification.

  These respiratory enzymes have co-factors such as heme or FeS centres and their function can be studied by UV-Vis spectroscopy using fast and ultrafast kinetic methods developed in our lab. Projects usually consist of purifying enzymes (wild type, mutant, His-tagged), characterization of the purity and the co-factors, followed by a range of functional and kinetic studies in order to characterize and solve the catalytic mechanism.

Experience with methods to purify (membrane) enzymes provides a valuable background for biochemical and biomedical research in industry or in a PhD.

Multimodal Agents for Imaging and Therapy

(contact: dr. K. Djanashvili


The research in medical diagnosis is currently focusing on multimodal imaging, which basically means exploiting the complementary information provided by different modalities.
For example, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has a very high resolution but low intrinsic sensitivity, which limits the detection of molecular biomarkers of certain diseases.
In contrast, nuclear imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET), are highly sensitive but have very poor resolution.
In the current practice, both diagnoses are performed independently. However, combination of multimodal detectability in the same probe can be very advantageous since it ensures the same pharmacokinetic and co-localization of signal. Nanoparticulate systems are extremely interesting in this respect.

For more information of the Multimodal Agents for Imaging and Therapy group please take a look at their website here.


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