PhD Student Researcher Within the Framework of Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Catholic University of Leuven Bioengineering Technology


Employment percentage: Full-time
Location: Leuven
Bioengineering Technology TC, De Nayer (Sint-Katelijne-Waver) Campus
Apply before: Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Tags: Engineering Technology, Bioscience Engineering, Biology 

(ref. BAP-2019-324)

Last modification : Thursday, May 23, 2019


The Laboratory for Process Microbial Ecology and Bioinspirational Management (PME&BIM; TC Bioengineering Technology; Department Microbial and Molecular Systems) is internationally recognized for its research in the domain of plant-microbe interactions as well as plant-microbe-insect interactions. Within the research team an important focus is on biological control, i.e. the management of pests and plant diseases by the use of beneficial (micro)organisms.



We are looking for a dynamic and highly-motivated PhD student who will perform innovative scientific research within the framework of integrated pest management (IPM). The Mediterranean predatory bug Nesidiocoris tenuis is increasingly infesting tomato crops. These predators are useful for the control of whiteflies and the tomato leaf miner moth Tuta absoluta, but at the same time they cause serious crop damage when prey populations are scarce, making this predator in fact a pest. Since a few years N. tenuis has arrived in Flemish and Dutch greenhouses, where it causes huge economic losses. An adequate solution for the problem is urgently needed. The main objective of this project is to develop and implement an innovative integrated pest management strategy for N. tenuis. Strategies will be selected based on sustainability, effectivity and applicability in the current cultivation of tomatoes. Specific aims of the project are (i) to acquire more knowledge and insight in the pest and its control, (ii) to develop an effective monitoring method for early detection, (iii) to develop preventative measures, and (iv) to develop an effective control strategy. The PhD study will be performed within the framework of a multipartner project called “NESI” in which the following partners are involved: KU Leuven, Research Centre Hoogstraten (Meerle) and Research Station for Vegetable Production (Sint-Katelijne-Waver). The research activities will lead to a number of scientific papers and a PhD in Engineering Technology. Advantageously, there will be plenty of opportunities to interact with agricultural experiment stations, growers and the workfield through regular meetings and site visits. The research will be performed under supervision of Prof. Bart Lievens and Prof. Hans Jacquemyn. Both have plenty of experience with high-quality PhD research. The successful candidate will be part of an international research team, and will get the chance to collaborate with expert researchers in the field of microbiology, phytopathology and biological pest control from our own and other universities and research institutes, as well as with bachelor and master students and companies. 


Interested candidates must have a master’s degree in engineering technology, bioengineering, biology or equivalent, with excellent study results.

Qualified candidates:
  • have a strong interest and knowledge in the field of plant protection, microbiology and biological control;

  • are communicative and willing to present research results at (inter)national conferences, via social media and through teaching activities;

  • are willing to supervise student/thesis projects;

  • are willing to help with the teaching activities of the research team;

  • are well-organized, flexible, critical-thinking and not afraid to take initiative;

  • can work independently, but also have good teamwork skills;

  • think in solutions, not in problems;

  • have a driver’s license B;

  • Proficiency in English is expected for all applicants.

  • Experience in conducting experimental research is a plus.


The successful candidate will be hired as a PhD fellow. We offer a fulltime job for 1 year (extendable for 3 more years after positive evaluation), starting on November 1, 2019.  Your main working place is the Laboratory for Process Microbial Ecology and Bioinspirational Management in Heverlee (Leuven).


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Bart Lievens, head Laboratory for Process Microbial Ecology and Bioinspirational Management, head Technology Cluster Bioengineering Technology (CBeT), Departement M2S,

In addition to your cv and letter of application, please add:
a) An overview of study results
b) A pdf version of your master thesis
c) Names of one or two references who may be contacted

You can apply for this job no later than June 25, 2019 via the online application tool
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at


If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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