Graduate Student Position - Rheology (Dutcher Lab)

Date and Time



University of Guelph
Dutcher Lab


Funded M.Sc. Position Available

Dutcher Lab, University of Guelph


Rheology of Dispersions of Soft Nanoparticles

The Dutcher Lab at the University of Guelph is seeking qualified MSc candidates to work on the characterization of new nanomaterials based on phytoglycogen, a highly branched glucose polymer produced as compact, soft, hairy nanoparticles in the kernels of sweet corn. The Dutcher Lab uses a wide variety of techniques to characterize the structure, morphology, hydration and mechanical properties of the nanoparticles, and our data indicates dramatic changes to the particle properties with simple chemical and physical modifications to the particles. One of the important measurements is called rheology, in which the mechanical properties of aqueous dispersions of the nanoparticles are measured as a function of particle concentration [1]. At high concentrations, in which the particles are forced into contact, these measurements reveal the nature of the interaction between the nanoparticles and, more generally, provide insight into the nature of the glass transition of soft colloidal nanoparticles. Recently, we have shown that partial digestion of the particles using dilute acids produces smaller, less dense particles and significantly changes the interactions between particles at high concentrations so that, surprisingly, the colloidal glass transition can be studied on experimental timescales [2].

We are looking for applicants who are excited to contribute to the forefront of investigating the mechanical properties of soft nanoparticles. This work will involve performing simple chemical and physical modifications to the nanoparticles, such as attaching chemical groups to the outer surface of the particles that add charge and/or hydrophobicity, and then measuring the mechanical properties of dispersions of the modified nanoparticles using a state-of-the-art rheometer. These data will be used together with data from other techniques such as atomic force microscopy, multi-angle light scattering and advanced computer simulations to achieve an understanding of the changes in the physical properties of the modified nanoparticles, which should lead to new applications of this natural, safe, sustainable nanotechnology.

Dutcher Lab:

[1] H. Shamana, M. Grossutti, E. Papp-Szabo, C. Miki and J.R. Dutcher, Soft Matter 14, 6496 (2018).
[2] H. Shamana and J.R. Dutcher, Biomacromolecules 23, 2040 (2022).


Position Requirements and Expectations

  • Completed or close to completing a Bachelors or Masters degree in physics, physical chemistry or a related field of physical science
  • Interest and strong motivation to work at the forefront of the physics of soft colloidal nanoparticles
  • Strong analytical skills and the ability to think critically and creatively
  • Strong problem-solving skills and work ethic
  • Excellent hands-on laboratory skills including the use of advanced instrumentation
  • Ability to apply sophisticated data analysis techniques to experimental data
  • Ability to work safely and responsibly in a laboratory
  • Ability to work effectively in a team environment
  • Strong oral and written communication skills

Start Date

The anticipated start date is in Fall 2023.

Application Process

Interested applicants should send a cover letter, CV and the names of up to three referees to ( In your cover letter, you should highlight your relevant previous experience and training. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted. The Dutcher Lab and the University of Guelph are committed to building a diverse and inclusive community. All qualified applicants are invited to apply, but we particularly welcome applications from individuals that identify with groups traditionally underrepresented in the physical sciences, and we will strive to hire individuals who share our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

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