Do you have a keen interest in human taste perception, and do you want to make a contribution to the flavor of next-generation foods? Do you have a strong background in food/analytical chemistry? We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD student to study the generation, mode of action and application of natural flavor-enhancing compounds.

Taste is one of the key factors that influences our choice and acceptance of food. A wide variety of compounds contribute directly to the perception of the five basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami). In addition, several compounds with no or limited inherent taste are known to modify the intensity of other tastes, and contribute to fuller, more lingering and complex flavor sensation.

These so-called ‘kokumi’ compounds may be formed during fermentation, but also through heat-induced reactions during cooking or industrial processing. In this project, you will aim to i) develop innovative methods to synthesize and purify kokumi compounds on a large scale, ii) understand which molecular features are key to the kokumi sensation, and iii) explore their potency as flavor enhancers in food products. 

You will mainly work at the Laboratory of Food Chemistry of Wageningen University, where you will be part of a dynamic international group of analytical and food chemists. Throughout your PhD you will be able to use state-of-the-art UHPLC-MS, GC-MS and preparative chromatography systems.

The project is in close collaboration with the Sensory Science and Eating Behavior group, where you will perform the sensory experiments to characterize the potency of these novel kokumi compounds through innovative perceptual trials with human subjects. Supervisors from both Food Chemistry and Sensory Science will be involved to ensure support from both perspectives.

You will work here: The research is embedded within the chair Laboratory of Food Chemistry, which is led by Prof. dr. ir. Jean-Paul Vincken. Your daily supervisor will be Roelant Hilgers. Co-supervision from the Sensory Science and Eating Behavior group will be provided by Prof. dr. Ciaran Forde and Prof. dr. Markus Stieger.

Your qualities; Our ideal candidate:

  • has a successfully completed academic degree (MSc level; recognized in The Netherlands) in Food/Analytical/Organic Chemistry or a related field;
  • has experience with liquid chromatography and/or mass spectrometry;
  • has experience with or affinity for research on human taste perception;
  • is an independent self-starter with a pioneering mindset;
  • has excellent research skills.

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 Jean-Paul Vincken, Chair of the laboratory of Food Chemistry, telephone number +31 317482234, or by email: or Roelant Hilgers, researcher flavor chemistry at FCH, telephone number +31 317482212, or by email: For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, recruiter, by emai:

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 6st of June, 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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