Fully Funded PhD Position in microbial protein production from biogas

Location: Belgium
Application Deadline: 30 April 2024
Published: 2 months ago

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Job description

Vacancy PhD candidate in microbial protein production from biogas.


Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 15,000 people, it is actively involved in education and research, management and administration, as well as technical and social service provision on a daily basis. It is one of the largest, most exciting employers in the area and offers great career opportunities. With its 11 faculties and more than 80 departments offering state-of-the-art study programmes grounded in research in a wide range of academic fields, Ghent University is a logical choice for its staff and students.


The Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) (www.CMET.UGent.be) is part of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University, as well as part of CAPTURE (www.capture-resources.be). 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 and resource recovery. CMET is well recognized worldwide in its field, and links excellent basic science with application, leading to a high level of peer reviewed outputs besides commercial outcomes, including several spin-off companies over time. Reactor and process developments go from millilitre scale to full scale industrial.


A holistic approach to resource recovery from organic waste is critical for a successful bio-based circular economy in which anaerobic digestion for biogas production plays a central role. Currently, biogas is used for electricity production or upgraded to biomethane. In this project, we will consider a novel value chain for biogas towards the production of the high-value microbial biomass rich in protein or “microbial protein” towards animal feed and even food applications, using a specific microbial consortium that can use methane and/or carbon dioxide as carbon source. We will produce the microbial biomass, harvest it, process it, and use it for inland different feed trials. In this project we will, thus, create a novel valorisation route for biogas through the indirect conversion of organic waste into feed & food. A key emphasis will be placed on the operation of gaslift bioreactors at the lab-scale and pilot-scale.

Job profile


  • You hold a master degree in science in the domain of Applied Biological Sciences, Biology or any related field;
  • You are interested in academic and/or project-based research and services;
  • You have excellent laboratory skills in bioreactor operation, applied microbiology and microbial techniques in general;
  • You have knowledge of one or more of the following topics: water and wastewater treatment, bioreactor operation and bioprocessing, including basic reactor work and downstream processes;
  • Previous experience working with methane/methanotrophs is an asset;
  • You have skills in statistical data analysis, and are keen on developing these skills further. Basic knowledge of R is an asset;
  • You have experience in working with gasses;
  • You are willing and eligible to apply for a FWO PhD fellowship strategic basic research;
  • You have good scientific writing and communication skills in English (C1 level);
  • You are willing to travel abroad for meetings, workshops or conferences;
  • You are persistent and problem-solving oriented;
  • You are able to work independently, as well as in a team;
  • You are interested and motivated to work in an international team with people from different backgrounds.


  • We offer you a full time, fixed term contract for 11 months, with the possibility for renewal after positive evaluation with a period of another 11 months, provided that FWO funding is applied for;
  • Your contract will start on 01/09/2024 at the earliest;
  • A competitive salary, including benefits, is offered;
  • All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job), supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, a bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).

How to apply


Applications must be sent via email to cmet.recruitment@UGent.be as pdf documents, with in the subject line mentioning “Biogas PhD”. Final closing date is April 30th 2024 (23h59 Brussels Time). Candidates that will obtain their master degree before the 1st of October 2024 are also eligible.

Your application must include the following documents:

  • A cover letter that includes the position reference, your contact address and telephone number. It is an opportunity to introduce yourself and highlight the key reasons you should be considered for the role, taking into account the required skills (max. one page).
  • Your CV in pdf format 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.
  • A 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.

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.

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 and demonstrate your capabilities.

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.


For more information about this vacancy, please contact Prof. Jo De Vrieze (Jo.DeVrieze@UGent.be).

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