Postdoc position: Optogenetic studies of cell division and cell fate in C. elegans (1.0 FTE)

Utrecht University (UU), the Netherlands
Sep 04, 2023 21:59:00 GMT+00:00
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  • HOURS PER WEEK- 36 to 40
  • FACULTY-Faculty of Science
  • DEPARTMENT- Department of Biology, Developmental Biology
  • APPLICATION DEADLINE- 4 September 2023

Job description

The van den Heuvel lab currently offers a post-doctoral research position in Developmental Biology. This position is embedded in the research consortium IMAGINE! (Innovative Microscopy And Guidance of cells In their Native Environment). The IMAGINE! programme aims to transform cell biology by developing and applying advanced microscopy and real-time molecular manipulation techniques to study cells in their natural complexity and diversity. The consortium forms a unique and highly interdisciplinary team that combines tissue, organoid, and C. elegans biology, as well as chemical and optical cell manipulation, to study cell behaviour in development, cancer, and targeted drug delivery.

In this post-doctoral research position in the group of Sander van den Heuvel at Utrecht University, you will study the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation in the animal model C. elegans. The optimisation and application of advanced microscopy methods is part of the project. This includes laser-light mediated control of protein localisation (optogenetics) and super-resolution microscopy. You will collaborate with colleagues within the IMAGINE! project who work on related projects in other systems (in particular the Kapitein Lab of Utrecht University). In addition to fundamental insight, the joint project aims to advance automated real-time control strategies to steer processes within native cells, as a unique approach for dissecting the molecular mechanisms and underlying principles of animal development.

In addition to the IMAGINE! consortium, you, as post-doctoral researcher, will become part of the highly interactive Cell and Developmental Biology community at Utrecht University. This will include daily interactions with fellow researchers in the van den Heuvel, Boxem and Ruijtenberg labs. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to collaborate with many other researchers within the Institute of Biodynamics and Biocomplexity including the Akhmanova, Kapitein, Baubec, and Ten Tusscher labs, as well as other researchers across the broader Utrecht University campus.

We would also like to draw your attention to another postdoc position within the Van den Heuvel lab. More information can be found on our website: Postdoc Position in single cell analysis of cell differentiation in vivo (1.0 FTE). The requirements of both positions are similar, so you are welcome to apply to both positions. In case you apply for both positions you may be invited for a joint interview so we can discuss which position best suits your interests and abilities.


We are looking for a curious and dedicated scientist. We would also like you to bring the following qualifications:

  • a PhD degree in Biology, Biomedical Sciences, or a related field;
  • a strong interest in molecular biology;
  • previous experience with independent research, and preferably with genetic model organisms, advanced microscopy, and/or bioinformatic data analysis;
  • experience in scientific writing, communication and presentation in English;
  • a clear motivation to work on a challenging project in a multidisciplinary and international research team.


  • a position for 3 years (with an initial appointment of one year, extended upon positive evaluation);
  • embedding in a great team of top Life Sciences researchers;
  • a gross salary between €2,960 and €4,670 (scale 10 according to Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities), depending on previous qualifications and experience, per month for a full-time employment;
  • benefits including 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • 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.

About the organisation

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. Find out more about our faculty

Research within the department of Biology is organized in two institutes: the Institute of Biodynamics and Biocomplexity (IBB) and the Institute of Environmental Biology (IEB). The department of Biology coordinates the teaching of the Bachelor’s programme in Biology, as well as Master’s programmes and PhD courses that are offered through the Graduate School of Life Sciences.

Research in the Developmental Biology division makes use of a multidisciplinary strategy in genetic animal model systems (C. elegans, zebrafish, organoids) to acquire a deeper fundamental understanding of the processes that determine development and health. Three teams that use the C. elegans model work closely together and share experience in C. elegans genetics and biology, as well as technologies (latest CRISPR knock-in/knockout strategies, live imaging, advanced microscopy) on a daily basis. In addition, there are frequent interactions and joint lab meetings with neighbouring labs (Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Biophysics), and other groups (Genome Biology and Epigenetics, Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics) in the Institute of Biodynamics and Biocomplexity (IBB).

Additional information

If you have any questions about this position, please contact Sander van den Heuvel, via

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. 

If you are enthusiastic about this position, just apply via the “Apply now” button! Please enclose:

  • a one-page cover letter describing the reasons behind your interest in the position;
  • a curriculum vitae;
  • name, telephone number, and email address of three references.

Promising candidates will be invited to an interview. As part of the selection procedure, we would like you to give a short presentation about your previous research.

The faculty strives for diversity among its employees and students and is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, as can be read in Utrecht University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

If this specific opportunity is not for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward the link to them.

The position will be immediately available after acceptance.

The application deadline is 4 September 2023.