Are you looking for a PhD position and like to participate in an exciting interdisciplinary research project to discover how food processing impacts food digestion and metabolism? Are you a nutritionists or food technologist with interest in process engineering, digestion and metabolism, and its implications on health? Then one of these two PhD vacancies may be of interest to you.

Advances in food production and formulation have given millions access to a safe and affordable food supply. However, concerns about the environmental impact of food production alongside concerns about diet related chronic diseases have led to criticism that food processing is promoting both climate change and poor health.

However, food processing can also positively influence the efficiency of nutrient digestion, enhance the release and absorption of nutrients and promote more sustainable and healthy nutrition. Mild processing approaches have greatly reduced energy consumption and water usage, and can be used to enhance ingredient functionality, bioavailability, and digestion.

Understanding the impact of mild food processing approaches on metabolic and sensory responses will enable ingredient and food production tailored for specific applications rather than for general use. Further research is now needed to demonstrate the metabolic and sensory impact of ingredients and foods produced by milder processing techniques compared to traditional intensive processing approaches.

In the framework of the TKI public-private partnership project ‘Meta-Pro: Metabolic Impact of Future Food Processing’, two PhD candidates will collaborate to compare the impact of conventional and mild food processing on food matrix properties, macronutrient digestion, metabolic responses and nutrient bio-availability using established digestion models and human feeding trials.

This knowledge will be used to develop design rules for the development of healthier and more sustainable approaches to food processing. One of the PhD candidates will work in the Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour and Food Quality and Design group, the other PhD will work in the Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour and Food Process Engineering group. 

What you are going to do?

  • You will conduct in-vitro experiments to measure the metabolic responses to mild and intensely processed ingredients (i.e. carbohydrates and protein).
  • You will relate observed differences in metabolite profiles to food ‘matrix’ measures and differences in food composition. You will confirm the clinical significance of these differences in in-vivo human metabolic feeding trials.
  • You will analyse data linking processing parameters to metabolic and sensory responses of ingredients that vary by their degree of processing to establish links between degree of processing, in-vitro and in-vivo metabolic responses.
  • You will use the knowledge gained to guide the application of milder energy efficient processing techniques to optimise product sustainability, sensory appeal and health, while reducing food waste.

The project is lead by the Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour Chair group in close collaboration with Food Quality and Design and Food Process Engineering. Your daily supervisors will be Prof. Dr. Ciarán Forde , Prof. Dr. Markus Stieger, Associate Prof. Dr. Edoardo Capuano and Associate Prof. Dr. Maarten Schutyser.

Your qualities; You have

  • A successfully completed MSc degree in human nutrition, food technology, or a related discipline
  • Interest and/or background in food process engineering, human digestion or metabolism
  • Independence, perseverance in problem solving
  • Excellent writing and oral communication skills in English

You are an independent person, but also a team player who enjoys working in a multidisciplinary team. For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1  level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language.

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 receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

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 Prof. Dr. Ciarán Forde or Prof. Dr. Markus Stieger, by e-mail at or .  For more information about the procedure, please contact  Rutger Voorrips, recruiter by e-mail

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 June 5th, 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews in June, 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.

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.

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