PhD Student

Last application date
May 23, 2022 00:00
LA22 - Department of Animal Sciences and Aquatic Ecology
Limited duration
master in environmental engineering, bioscience engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, ecotoxicology, environmental science, environmental technology or similar on September 1st 2022
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

We welcome applications for a full-time PhD position within the Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology (GhEnToxLab) of the Department of Animal Sciences and Aquatic Ecology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, UGent. The PhD student will be appointed in a fellowship position on the EU project "TransPharm”.

A short summary of the TransPharm project:
TransPharm is an EU HORIZON 2020 project, coordinated by Ghent University in Belgium, and aims to move towards a sustainable pharmaceutical industry and to improve the European readiness for sustainable production of small molecules (active pharmaceutical ingredients, APIs) that have environmental or supply concerns. To reach the envisaged aims, the project will deliver four toolboxes for the development of greener pharmaceutical products and APIs, with the aim of analysing and predicting flow behaviour and environmental biodegradability and ecotoxicity of APIs and their synthesis pathways, identifying greener and more sustainable alternatives to pharmaceutical products / APIs of concern, reducing the footprint in synthetic schemes of APIs, and assessing the sustainability of pharmaceuticals over their entire life cycle. These toolboxes will be used to assess the potential to move towards the transition to greener pharmaceutical production. In addition, the team will elaborate on business cases for sustainable pharmaceutical products or APIs and what is needed to bring them to the market. The project will also make sure that key project results and knowledge are properly transferred towards targeted stakeholders.
Your tasks will mainly be connected to work package 2 (WP2) of the project, which focuses on the assessment of Transformation Products (TPs) and Metabolites of pharmaceuticals. This task will add a scientifically robust ecotoxicology component to the benign-by-design concept for new pharmaceutical compounds. A taxonomically diverse set of aquatic organisms (cyanobacteria, algae, macrophytes, crustaceans, molluscs) will be used, with a focus on long-term, sub-lethal effects. This task will yield ecotoxicological profiles of new API’s and explanations for low versus high ecotoxicity. The metabolites responsible for residual ecotoxicity of degradation solutions will be identified via effects-directed analysis (EDA).
Another task will be to study the impact of pH and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) on ecotoxicity of APIs and TPs. The most promising compounds in terms of safety and efficacy, degradability, and ecotoxicity, will be investigated more specifically for their actual bioavailability in the aquatic environment. Since the design of new APIs involves differences in functional groups, changes in ionisation with pH and sorption to DOC can come along. This influence will be evaluated via multivariate test designs using cyanobacteria and other sensitive model organisms for new APIs. The data will be used to develop a bioavailability model that predicts ecotoxicity as a function of pH and DOC of the receiving water body.

Job profile

Candidates are expected to have an engineering background and/or affinity with (organic) chemistry or ecotoxicology. For this project we are looking for someone who is critical, analytical and has a sense of initiative.
Other profile requirements:

  • You hold a master's degree in environmental engineering, bioscience engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, ecotoxicology, environmental science, environmental technology or equivalent. The degree requirements must be met at the start of the appointment.
  • You are interested in scientific research in order to obtain a doctoral degree.
  • You have good writing and presentation skills.
  • You have a very good oral and written knowledge of academic English.
  • You live in Belgium or are willing to settle here for the duration of the appointment.
  • You are open to the possibility for a Joint PhD between the EU partners.

How to apply

Please send an email, no later than May 23rd 2022, to:
- Prof. Dr. Karel De Schamphelaere:
The subject of the email should contain the following title: 'Application PhD TransPharm + family name’.
The following documents must be attached: letter of motivation, CV, a copy of the highest degree and a summary of the results of the studies.
Students graduating in June 2022 are also welcome to apply.

Selection procedure:

  • Preselection based on the provided documents
  • Selection based on interviews

Planned starting date doctoral position: September 1st, 2022.
You will be recruited on the basis of competencies. Qualities of people are decisive, regardless of gender, religion, ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation or any disability.