PhD Position in Food Science
Wageningen University

Two PhD Student Positions in Food Science

Location Wageningen

End date Sat 29 August 2020

We are looking for

We are looking for enthusiastic and skilled candidates for a four-year PhD trajectory based on an NWO-TTW funded project focusing on improving starter culture production and functionality.

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are widely used as starter cultures to make fermented dairy products, such as cheese and yoghurt, in which they cause acidification by production of lactic acid and contribute to texture and flavour formation. However, production of these starter cultures is not optimal yet as indicated by incomplete lactose utilization despite control of the pH. Furthermore, in view of the trend that consumers buy more food products containing plant-derived proteins rather than animal derived proteins, new starter cultures with improved functionalities are needed.

This research project aims to explore novel methods that can improve LAB starter culture production and their functionality. We will target increased biomass yield and cell concentration, enhanced starter functionality (e.g. faster acidification and/or better aroma formation) and enhanced stress resistance. The latter function is also relevant for LAB that are applied as probiotics or in plant-based fermentations. The PhD candidate will investigate fermentation and adaptation of dairy and plant-derived strains of lactic acid bacteria at alkaline conditions.

This PhD trajectory is part of a larger project with public and private funding in which you will team-up with another PhD student, a post-doctoral researcher and senior supervisors. Within the project, you will be responsible for keeping up to date with the current literature, developing your own research plan, executing the research project and translating the results into publishable scientific research papers. Finally, you will supervise master students in executing their research project and you will assist in BSc and MSc level courses.

We ask

For this position we request that the PhD candidate:

  • Has an MSc degree in Biology, (Food) Biotechnology, Food Science and Technology or a similar degree;
  • works in an independent and self-motivated manner;
  • has a keen interest in both fundamental and applied research;
  • has excellent oral and written communication skills in English. This position requires an excellent English language proficiency (a mininum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.

We offer

We offer you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2.395,-  in the first year rising up to € 3.061,- per month in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreement (scale P). This is based on a full working week of 38 hours. We not only offer a competitive salary but also good (study) leave and a pension of the ABP Pension Fund.

In addition, we offer:

  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural end-of year bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours that we determine together in good consultation;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes, e.g. the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra for extra leave;
  • a flexible model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace on the Wageningen Campus;
  • make use of the sports facilities on campus for a small fee. 
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with our internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for personal initiative in a learning environment. With us you get a versatile job in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

More information

For more information about this function you can contact Eddy Smid by
For more information about the procedure you can contact Ina Luttmann, HR Advisor, e-mail:

Do you want to apply?

This can be done directly via the application button at the vacancy on our website so that we can process your personal data with your permission. This vacancy is open until 30 August 2020.

Equal opportunities employer

We are an employer that offers equal opportunities. We are happy to receive applications from all suitably qualified people regardless of race, gender, functional impairment, religion / belief, sexual orientation or age.

We believe that a diverse and inclusive working environment makes us a more relevant, competitive and resilient organization. Click here for more information about working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

The mission of our University is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. 
With approximately 30 locations, 6,500 employees, and 12,000 students, it is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen. We have been named Best Employer in Education category 2019-2020.

You will be a member of the chair group Food Microbiology. This is one of the 5 chairs within the Food Technology cluster. Our chair group generates and disseminates genetic and physiological knowledge as well as knowledge of ecology, fermentation and quantitative methods to understand and predict microbial behaviour and to propose intelligent interventions for the assurance of microbiological food safety and quality. The group consists of a 3 full professors, 2 associate professors, lecturers, post-docs, scientific assistants, supporting staff, and over 15 PhD students. The group offers an international research environment.

Click here for more information about working at Wageningen University & Research.
More information about Wageningen Campus you can find here .

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.

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