The lab of Prof. Nicolai consists of a team of young, dynamic and enthusiastic researchers that investigate processes and technology for improving quality of horticultural products such as fruit and vegetables, , with a strong engineering approach. We offer a stimulating work environment for those who are interested in scientific research on the verge of fundamental and applied research, with a high relevance to making a more sustainable world. KU Leuven is a world-class university and ranked 42 on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and ranks 7 on Reuters Most Innovative Universities Worldwide (being No. 1 in Europe).


Internal disorders in fruit and vegetables can cause extreme losses during postharvest storage. Since the product normally has to be cut to detect internal disorders, they are often only observed upon quality inspection of the whole batch after shipping. This typically leads to refusal and subsequent destruction of the whole batch which may cause large financial losses. Recently, non-destructive imaging technologies (e.g., MRI, 2D X-ray imaging or 3D X-ray CT) have been introduced for quality evaluation of fresh produce. Detection of several disorders, macroscopically, was possible to some extent with these techniques. However, the use of non-destructive techniques for online quality evaluation of fruit and vegetables is not yet commercially feasible, due to the often low-value/ high volume of fruit.

In this postdoc project you will assist the team in the development and application of advanced methods of X-ray imaging (including multispectral and phase contrast imaging) in combination with novel methods of machine learning for image processing and analysis in industrially relevant applications of food quality inspection. You will be responsible for fundamental and applied research projects with both national and international partners, including companies, assure timely execution of research tasks with the team, assist the team’s daily operation and increase our high quality research output including high impact scientific publications.


The lab is looking for a highly motivated expert with a recent PhD in a field associated with the topic and a proven scientific track record in X-ray imaging, food quality inspection, image analysis and/or artificial intelligence. You are eager to further develop towards an independent researcher and keen to take up responsibilities beyond your own research while extending your skills, network and publication track record. You want to assist a highly visible international interdisciplinary team to perform cutting-edge research. You have a critical mind and you have an excellent affinity with computational platforms, source code management and advanced algorithm programming in different softwares.


The lab offers you a 1 year PhD position with option to extend. We also encourage and support additional grant applications. The lab will support you in all aspects in order to successfully progress as a scientific expert including research group management. You will be given opportunities to participate at national and international meetings and extend your own network.


For more information please contact Dr. ir. Pieter Verboven, tel.: +32 16 32 14 53, mail: or Prof. dr. ir. Bart Nicolai, tel.: +32 16 32 23 75, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than August 31, 2022 via the online application tool

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