In light of a joint research initiative “Let’s go VirAL” of the Laboratory of Virology and Bioprocess Engineering we are searching for a suitable candidate for a PhD project. This project aims to unravel the life cycle of a recently isolated DNA virus that infects microalgae, to enable development of a virus-based production platform in microalgae, which is also part of the aim of this project.

A combined -omics and biochemical approach will be implemented to elucidate the virus life cycle at a molecular level during the course of infection and to identify and characterize the role of viral genes; this systematic study of virus infection in relation to host fitness will be carried out in small scale photobioreactors.

The PhD candidate will develop knowledge and expertise in the field of genetics, biochemistry, virology and microalgae biotechnology. Experience with microalgae physiology and/or virological research is highly recommended, and additional expertise in bioinformatics and large data-set analysis, software (R) programming and statistical analysis preferred.

Your qualities

The ideal candidate will possess already these skills:

  • wet lab skills: a person enthusiastic and keen in doing physiological studies (ideally a person who is familiar with microalgae or plant cell cultivation, and a person familiar with photosynthetic metabolism). A person that is familiar with virus-host interactions would be also ideal.
  • Cultivation of microalgae under different parameters and cultivation formats (from flasks to high-parameter-control bench-scale photobioreactors), infection with virus, flow cytometry, gel electrophoresis (agarose, SDS-PAGE), qPCRs, will be the almost daily analytic techniques;
  • dry lab skills: familiarity with genetics and bioinformatics, and a person that enjoys performing computer-based analyses. A person that is prone/able to process large dataset (e.g., coming from transcriptomics), ideally the candidate is already familiar with programming language for data analysis (e.g., bioinformatic software) and statistical computing software (e.g., R);
  • high independence and organizational skills; someone that is able to formulate relevant research questions and to design proper experiments, accordingly;
  • curious mind and high scientific attitude and integrity;
  • able to easily integrate and work in an international and interdisciplinary team, and yet to keep own independence. The candidate will work in close contact with a peer candidate. We look for a person that is pro-active, team player, and creative;
  • possession of relevant academic MSC degree (ideally under Life Science domain and/or Biotechnological domain), good English (written and spoken) and excellent communication skills (able to resume and explain the work in a clear way) is also a requirement.

We offer you

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will of course receive a good salary. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between € 2541,-. and € 3247,-. for a full-time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P).

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad

Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research’s International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the “30% rule”, certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

 Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Sarah D’Adamo, assistant professor, by e-mail:   For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, recruiter, by email:   

Do you want to apply?

You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval. This vacancy will be listed up to and including Tuesday 11th April 2023.

Equal opportunities

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities.

We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7,200 employees (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

The Bioprocess engineering chair group (WU-BPE) is a leading group in the field of microalgae in Europe; it has over 20 years’ experience with the cultivation of algae and has a solid expertise in bioreactor design, medium optimization, strain improvement, scale-up, biorefinery and LCA’s in this area of application. WU-BPE collaborates already with over 40 companies and has experience in the coordination of large public private partnership programs (AlgaePARC pilot facilities, AlgaePARC Biorefinery and EU research programs).

The main applicant is part of the Microalgal biotechnology theme, which sees a total number of 25 PhD students in this area. WU_BPE research is divided into three additional themes: microbial biotechnology, animal cell biotechnology and biorefinery. Animal cell biotechnology theme will be involved in some aspects of the research, being expert on baculovirus expression system for the production of virus- like-particles. This project implements an integral multidisciplinary research approach in a collaboration with the  Laboratory of Virology (WU-VIR) chair group.

The Laboratory of Virology is worldwide known for its expertise and role in the development and exploitation of the baculovirus-insect cell expression system and is also expertised in plant viruses, studying plant DNA and RNA viruses, in particular their molecular life cycle and host defence and viral counterdefense strategies (antiviral RNAi, resistance genes and viral suppressor proteins of RNAi). Besides the baculovirus expression system, the Laboratory of Virology also explores and exploits plant viral vectors for virus- induced gene silencing and heterologous protein expression in planta (molecular pharming), and it develops virus-like particles (VLPs) as scaffold for epitope presentations and carriers of encapsulated molecules.

 Altogether the Laboratory of Virology presents a strong and knowledge partner to assist in the establishment of a viral vector production platform in eukaryotic photosynthetic microorganisms. The PhD candidate will be enrolled in the graduate school VLAG, under the research theme Modelling & Design of Biological Systems, which unites microbial bio-based research in Wageningen University.

Wageningen University and Research Centre is delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That’s our focus – each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues that are affecting the society – such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. We are doing this with 6,500 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.

Apply now

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