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Website Ghent University

Job description
The Sustainable Systems Engineering (STEN) group of Ghent University together with the Product Development group of Antwerp University welcomes a candidate for a full time PhD position on the environmental sustainability of microbial pigments for the food and feed industry, including the analysis of industrial needs and consumer awareness. The PhD student will be involved in the Flemish funded BIOCHROMA project, involving academia (Ghent University and Antwerp University), and industrial stakeholders as advisory board members.

In BIOCHROMA, we aim to expand the portfolio of microbial pigments for food and feed applications that can meet market and consumer needs while also considering the potential environmental benefits and drawbacks. This will be done by building an in-depth knowledge platform on correlation between bacterial strains, genetic contexts, pigment structures, physicochemical and biological properties, process parameters and color behavior in food and feed formulation, application testing and impact assessment, thereby addressing a large knowledge gap that currently complicates the further development and commercialization of microbial pigments.

The main sub-objectives of the PhD thesis include:

  • to develop value chain scenarios with regard to microbial pigment production and to obtain inventories at life cycle level for this food/feed ingredient
  • to perform an environmental Life Cycle Assessment of bacterial pigments and compare it with alternative plant-based or chemical benchmarks
  • to identify and map industrial needs regarding colouring agents through co-creative workshops
  • to explore consumer’s acceptance and perception on bacterial pigments in food through surveys

The scientific findings should lead to publications in international peer reviewed journals and should be presented at international conferences.

The PhD duration is four years. Your time will be divided 50% at Ghent University (STEN research group) and 50% at Antwerp University (Product Development research group). In this PhD position, you will also work in close collaboration with the other partners in BIOCHROMA, being different research units at Ghent University (e.g., Synbioc, Biochemistry and Microbiology, Biotechnology, Food Technology, Safety and Health) and the advisory board members (e.g., Innovad, Oterra, DSM Firmenich, etc.). Part of the work can be done via teleworking.

The start date is planned at October 1st 2024.

Job profile
Candidates are expected to have a background in engineering (bioscience, materials, chemistry, design …) and/or an affinity for environmental sustainability analysis, market and consumer analysis. We are looking for candidates with a critical and analytical attitude and a sense of initiative.

Other profile requirements:

  • You hold a master’s degree in environmental engineering, bioscience engineering, chemical engineering, materials engineering, environmental technology, product development, industrial design engineering, or equivalent.
  • The degree requirements must be met at the start of the appointment;
  • You have an interest in scientific research;
  • You can operate both independently and in a multidisciplinary team;
  • You have organisational/managerial skills and are highly motivated;
  • You have good writing and presentation skills;
  • You master the English language, written and orally, in an academic context;
  • Having experience with both qualitative and quantitative research is essential;

Additional plus points:

  • You have experience with the development and comparison of different value chain scenarios;
  • You have experience with LCA software such as SimaPro, openLCA, GaBi, etc.;
  • You have experience with sustainability assessments of food/feed ingredients produced at low TRL level;
  • You have experience with cocreative design activities and workshops

How to apply
Apply by sending ultimately June 17th an email to [email protected] as follows:

Mention in subject line: “Biochroma – Application name surname”.

Attach into 1 single pdf file:

  • Item 1: Cover letter
  • Item 2: CV
  • Item 3: contact details of 1 or 2 reference persons.
  • Item 4: ‘Diploma’ items, e.g. an overview of your study results, transcript of the required degree (if already in your possession). If you have a foreign diploma in a language other than our national languages (Dutch, French or German) or English, please add a translation in one of the mentioned languages.

Note that the maximum file size is 10 MB. Selection procedure:

1. Preselection based on the provided documents.
2. Selection based on interviews.
As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.

To apply for this position, please provide all necessary documents to [email protected] before the application deadline (17/06/2024). We do not accept late applications.

To apply for this job please visit

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