PhD Student

Last application date
Jun 29, 2024 00:00
LA25 - Department of Biotechnology
Limited duration
A Master degree in Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, Biotechnology or equivalent, completed before the start date of the position, with excellent grades.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 15,000 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 programs grounded in research in a wide range of academic fields, Ghent University is a logical choice for its staff and students.

The Centre for Synthetic Biology (CSB, is part of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University, a top 100 university in most rankings. CSB has a long tradition in in the application of synthetic biology for industrial biotechnology, particularly directed towards the biocatalytic synthesis of chemicals through either microbial fermentation or the use of isolated enzymes. The area of expertise includes the screening for novel biocatalysts (enzymes and micro-organisms), the optimization of fermentation strains through metabolic engineering, the engineering of enzymes through rational design and directed evolution, as well as process development, up-scaling, and downstream processing. Prof. De Mey leads a group of 8 PhD students and 5 postdocs and has a strong track-record in translating her basic research into real-life applications, including patents and spin-offs.

The Horizon Europe research project deCYPher will develop a standardized platform to profoundly implement artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to overcome current hurdles in industrial biotechnology and truly unlock the full potential in biotech engineering. As proof-of-concept, deCYPher will apply this platform to solve a pertinent problem in the microbial production of plant secondary metabolites, namely the biobased production of terpenoids and flavonoids.

In this specific PhD project, the main objective is to optimize the microbial production of plant secondary metabolites using synthetic biology and metabolic engineering approaches. More specific, dynamic pathway control will be applied to balance out production with the various stresses when plant enzymes are expressed in bacterial hosts.

Job profile

Background and experience

  • Scientific researcher: A Master degree in Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, Biotechnology or equivalent, completed before the start date of the position, with excellent grades.
  • Experience in the field of synthetic biology for microbial biotechnology will be greatly appreciated.

Scientific knowledge and skills

  • Knowledge of microbial and industrial biotechnology.
  • Hands on experience in asceptic cultivation of microbes.
  • Hands on experience in microbial synthetic biology and genetic circuitry is a strong added value.
  • Ability to rigorously design experiments and to perform experiments under well-controlled conditions.
  • Ability to work with analytics, such as chromatography, as well as experience with microbial or cell line analyses.
  • Ability to rigorously design and perform experiments in a result-oriented and thorough manner.
  • Ability to perform in-depth and critical data and statistical analysis.
  • Ability to communicate through high-quality scientific channels, e.g. WoS publications (A1).

Personal knowledge and skills

  • A strong interest in inter/multi-disciplinary applied science.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively with team members from different backgrounds and in different research areas.
  • Excellent skills for time management and the ability to meet objectives within strictly set deadlines.
  • Good oral and written communication skills in English are strictly required (C1 level).
  • Knowledge of Dutch is an asset but not a must
  • Demonstrated ability to work efficiently.
  • Outcome focused, hands-on mentality.
  • Willingness to travel internationally for project meetings and conferences.
  • Willingness to apply for scholarships to obtain additional funding.


  • We offer a full-time position as a doctoral fellow, consisting of an initial period of 12 months, which - after a positive evaluation, will be extended to a total maximum of 48 months.
  • Your contract will start on 1/09/2024 at the earliest.
  • The fellowship amount is 100% of the net salary of an AAP member in equal family circumstances. The individual fellowship amount is determined by the Department of Personnel and Organization based on family status and seniority. A grant that meets the conditions and criteria of the regulations for doctoral fellowships is considered free of personal income tax. Click here for more information about our salary scales.
  • 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, bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits (in Dutch).

For more information about this vacancy, please contact CSB Recruitment CSB (,+32 (0)9/264 60 30)

How to apply

Submission and closing date
Applications must be sent via email to as pdf or word documents, with in the subject line mentioning “vacancy DeCYPher_PhD”.
Final closing date is 29 June 2024 (23h59 CET), but applications will be regularly reviewed prior to the deadline, hence, early application is recommended

Application files
1. Cover Letter, named as “CoverLetter_Family name”. The cover letter should include the position reference, your contact address, email and telephone number. It is an opportunity -in not more than one page- to introduce yourself and highlight the key reasons you should be considered for the role, taking into account the required skills.

2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae, named as “CV_Familiy name”. A resume is a brief history of your employment and experience 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.

3. Selection Criteria, named “SelectionCriteria_Family name”. A statement addressing how each of the selection criteria has been met, is required to assist the Selection Committee determine whether you have the relevant qualifications, knowledge/skills, experience and personal qualities.