PhD Student

Last application date
May 23, 2022 00:00
LA24 - Department of Green Chemistry and Technology
Limited duration
master in environmental engineering, bioscience engineering, environmental science, environmental technology or similar on the starting date of the project (September 1st 2022)
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

We welcome applications for a full-time PhD position within the Research Group Sustainable Systems Engineering (STEN) of the Department of Green Chemistry and Technology, 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 WP4 which focuses on the development and test innovative approaches to assess the sustainability of pharmaceuticals over their life cycle, specifically tailored to the needs of end-users such as regulators, industry and the health sector. These approaches will integrate sustainability aspects related to the design, production and distribution of pharmaceuticals with those related to prescription, use and disposal, including risk mitigation. We will move beyond using the dose as the functional unit and balance the footprint with health and other societal benefits (‘handprint’). The aim is to develop a draft map of the pharmaceutical value chain and identify all potentially relevant environmental pressures. The sustainability assessment approach will be tailored to stakeholder views, needs and wishes. Special attention will be paid to auxiliaries such as solvents, separating agents and catalysts, production intermediates, residues, metabolites, transformation products (e.g. after wastewater treatment), and their mixtures. Data needs will be identified and available data from the LCA and environmental risk assessment (ERA) communities will be critically analysed to understand how these can fulfil the data needs. The challenge of lacking LCI data will be addressed. The ultimate sustainability assessment approach will be described in a guidance document detailing: (1) the impact categories, (2) the necessary LCI data, (3) the methods to be used for translating LCI data into a sustainability score for each category, (4) integration of the scores into a sustainability indicator (linked to an appropriate functional unit), and (5) summaries of the case studies illustrating the approach. One potential application per sector (industry, regulatory and health) will be selected and the generic approach can be operationalized to fulfil the needs and wishes of the stakeholder(s).

Job profile

Candidates are expected to have an (bio)engineering background and/or affinity with sustainability analysis methods such as life cycle assessment. 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, 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.
  • Possibility to work from home (max. 50% of the time)
  • Additional plus points: 1) You have experience in carrying out quantitative and/or qualitative research and in collecting data independently and 2) You have experience with LCA software such as openLCA, Gabi, SimaPro, etc. and LCA databases (e.g. ecoinvent).

How to apply

Please send an email, no later than May 23rd 2022, to:
- Prof. Dr. ir. Jo Dewulf (
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.
For more information about the content of this position and the TransPharm project, please contact