Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 8,000 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.


Microbial communities play a crucial role in bioprocesses aimed at renewable energy recovery, bioproduction and nutrient recovery. Anaerobic digestion is such a process in which organic waste streams are converted into biogas by a complex microbial community or “microbiome”. However, monitoring and engineering of the anaerobic digestion process still relies on conventional methods that do not consider the complexity of the microbiome. Hence, a novel approach for direct microbial community engineering is essential to explore the opportunities of anaerobic digestion in the bio-based economy.

This project aims to acquire and apply fundamental insights in microbial monitoring and 3-dimensional organisation and activity in anaerobic digestion to evolve towards direct steering of the microbiome. A dual approach will be considered through (1) the characterisation of the microbiome in a holistic framework (fingerprinting) and (2) the identification, characterization, monitoring and direct steering of key taxa and genes in anaerobic digestion to make the transition from post-hoc to proactive process engineering.

Target-specific monitoring techniques will be developed to achieve in situ monitoring of key taxa in AD, which should lead to direct in situ steering of key taxa and genes based on physiological traits. This will pave the way towards direct microbiome-based engineering of the anaerobic digestion process. For this research project, we are looking for a postdoctoral researcher with keen interest in molecular and microbial techniques related to monitoring and engineering of anaerobic digestion and/or other engineered, mixed microbial communities. At least 70% of your assignment will be spent on academic research.


  • You hold a thesis-based doctorate in science in domain of Biology or domain of Applied Biological Sciences. The thesis-based doctorate is obtained max. 6 years ago. This term of 6 years is determined by the date written on the above-mentioned required diploma. Your PhD dissertation should be based on research regarding environmental or molecular (micro)biology. Alternatively, the candidate should have strong postdoc experience in one of these fields.
  • You are interested in academic and/or project-based research and services;
  • You have excellent laboratory skills in applied microbiology, real time PCR analysis, gene expression studies, sequencing, flow cytometry and/or molecular 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;
  • 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 with third-generation sequencing technologies (MinION platform or others) and data processing, using software packages like R and Github
  • 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;
  • You have excellent teaching and communication skills;
  • Experience and willingness to help in writing grant applications for research funding is an asset.


  • We offer you a contract of indefinite duration, starting with 1 year, renewable after positive evaluation up to 2 years in total;
  • Your contract will start on 01/08/2022 at the earliest;
  • Your remuneration will be determined by salary scale PD1-PD4. 
  • 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.


Apply online through the e-recruitment system before the application deadline (see below). We do not accept late applications or applications that are not submitted through the online system

Your application must include the following documents:

  • In the field ‘Cover Letter’: 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).
  • In the field‘CV’: 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.
  • In the field ‘Diploma’: 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.
  • In the field ‘Other documents’: A statement addressing how each of the selection criteria has been met (max. one page) is required to assist the Selection Committee determine whether you have the relevant qualifications, knowledge/skills, experience and personal qualities.

Note that the maximum file size for each field is 10 MB.

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. Please note that the interviews are preferentially conducted by teleconference.

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). Important: do NOT send your application by email, but apply online.

Apply now online

→   Apply before 15/05/2022 (DD/MM/YYYY) 23:59 (Brussels Time)
   →   Faculty of Bioscience Engineering  
   →  Department: BW25 – Biotechnologie
   →  Occupancy rate:100%
   →  Number of positions: 1    
   →  Type of employment: Contract of unlimited duration with clause 
   →  Term of assignment: 1 jaar 
   →  Wage scale:  PD1 to PD4 (doctoral degree) 
   →  Required diploma: PhD 

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