Tailored opportunities: PhD position in biotechnology at Ghent University

Current biomass use comes at a high cost, either in terms of land use (sugar/starch crops) or energy and chemical use (2nd generation biomass). On the other hand, bio-waste is massively produced in urban or rural context but almost not valorised, or solely in low-value applications, in part due to its heterogenous nature. The H2020 BBI CAFIPLA project tackles both issues by developing an integrated biomass valorisation strategy that combines the carboxylic acid and fibre recovery platform (CAP/FRP). Ghent University is one of the partners of this H2020 BBI project, and will contribute to the project by investigating: i) the production of medium-chain carboxylic acids from biowaste by chain elongation; and ii) the characterization of waste fermentation microbiomes using single-cell techniques, and the development of novel process monitoring and steering approaches for process mornitoring.

Type of employment

  • PhD candidate researcher: Full-time, fixed-term appointment for initially 1 year, yearly renewable after positive evaluation up to 2.5 years. Intended starting date: November 2020 (or as soon as possible).
  • A competitive salary including benefits is offered, salary levels account for years of professional experience.
  • Ghent University is an equal opportunity employer.


– CMET The Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) formally LabMET; www.CMET.UGent.be) is part of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University, a top 100 university in most rankings. CMET has over 40 years of experience in the study of applied microbial processes and microbial ecology in the contexts of waste(water) treatment, bioremediation, bioproduction, bioelectrochemistry and resource recovery. It is one of the top performing centres worldwide in its field and links excellent basic science with application, leading to high level peer-reviewed outputs besides commercial outcomes including 7 spin-off companies over time. Reactor and process developments go from millilitre scale to full scale industrial. Prof. Ramon Ganigué and Prof. Nico Boon will be the promotors of this PhD project. CMET is a very multidisciplinary team and has a very international atmosphere.

Profile of the candidate


Background and experience

  • Scientific researcher: A Master degree in microbiology, environmental engineering, bioscience engineering or equivalent, completed before the start date of the position, with excellent grades.
  • Experience in the field of wastewater treatment, applied microbiology, microbial ecology, single-cell technologies or fermentations will be greatly appreciated.

Scientific knowledge and skills

  • Knowledge of bio-process engineering and microbiology.
  • Ability to rigorously design experiments and to perform experiments under well-controlled conditions.
  • Be experienced and interested in interdisciplinary research. This includes microbiology and chemistry.
  • Ability to work with analytics, such as HPLC & GC, as well as experience with microbial analyses. • Ability to rigorously design and perform experiments in a result-oriented and thorough manner.
  • Ability to perform in-depth and critical data analysis.
  • Ability to communicate through high-quality scientific channels, e.g. WoS publications (A1).

Personal knowledge and skills

  • A strong interest in inter/multi-disciplinary applied science.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively with team members from different backgrounds and in different research areas.
  • Excellent skills for time management and the ability to meet objectives within strictly set deadlines.
  • Good oral and written communication skills in English are strictly required (C1 level).
  • Demonstrated ability to work efficiently and with minimum supervision. 
  • Outcome focused, hands-on mentality.
  • Willingness to travel internationally for project meetings and conferences.
  • Willingness to apply for scholarships to obtain additional funding.

How to apply


Submission and closing date

Applications must be sent via email to cmet.recruitment@UGent.be as pdf or word documents, with in the subject line mentioning “CAFIPLA_PhD”. Applications should contain all three files, either as individual documents or in a consolidated file. Incomplete applications (i.e. missing one of the three files) will be disregarded. Final closing date is October 28th 2020 (23h59 CET), but applications will be regularly reviewed prior to the deadline hence early application is recommended.

Application files

1. Cover Letter. The cover letter should include the position reference, your contact address and telephone number. It is an opportunity -in not more than one page- to introduce yourself and highlight the key reasons you should be considered for the role, taking into account the required skills.

2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae. A resume is a brief history of your employment and experience that covers the following areas:

• Educational qualifications and professional affiliations that detail the full title of the qualification, the year awarded and the title of the institution attended;

• Employment history in chronological order, starting with current position and specifying dates of employment, title of each position, name of employer, main duties or accountabilities and achievements;

• Research fields and current interests, publications (full list as attachment with three most significant marked with an asterisk, also indicating impact factors and Quartiles according to Web of Science), research grants awarded.

• The names and contact details (address, telephone, e-mail) of three referees, including if possible a senior person (preferably your supervisor, manager or head of organisational unit) closely associated with your current work. A referee must be able to comment on your work experience, skills and performance with respect to the selection criteria.

3. Selection Criteria. A statement addressing how each of the selection criteria has been met is required to assist the Selection Committee determine whether you have the relevant qualifications, knowledge/skills, experience and personal qualities.

Selection process

A Selection Committee will consider all applications and shortlist candidates for interview who appear to meet the selection criteria at the highest levels. They will be invited to attend an interview and the remaining unsuccessful applicants will be notified accordingly.

An invitation to attend an interview provides an opportunity to provide further information to the Selection Committee to substantiate your claims against the selection criteria or demonstrate your capabilities. Please note that for some positions interviews may be conducted by teleconference in the first instance.

The Selection Committee will subsequently seek referee reports, if not sought prior to interview, before making a decision to make an offer of appointment to the preferred candidate. The purpose of referee checks is to obtain, in confidence, factual information about your past work history, as well as opinions regarding the quality of your work, behaviour in the work place and suitability for the position. Referee reports may be sought orally, or for academic staff, in writing by post or e-mail.

If you are the preferred candidate, you will receive a written offer of appointment to the position. Do not take any action, such as resigning from your current position, before you receive a written offer of appointment.

More information regarding this position

Please contact Prof. Ramon Ganigue (Ramon.Ganigue@UGent.be) and Prof. Nico Boon (Nico.Boon@UGent.be).

Author: African Academic/Researcher

Science and Research by Africans for Africa

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