PhD Student

Last application date
Jul 01, 2020 23:59
LA23 - Department of Food Technology, Safety and Health
Employment category
Doctoral fellow
Limited duration
Degree of Master of Science, Master of Science in Bioscience Engineering, Master of Science in Bio(-industrial) Sciences, or similar level
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

This PhD position is situated within the research project BlueCC, Commercial exploitation of marine collagen and chitin from marine sources, related to valorisation of marine biomass. BlueCC is an interdisciplinary project with 6 international partners,. The BlueCC project aims to make use of underutilised marine species such as invasive and by-catch species or cleaner fish from the aquaculture industry to develop new eco-friendly marine ingredients and products in a market acceptance approach. The focus will be on sustainably exploiting chitin and collagen produced by invasive crabs, jellyfish, starfish and cleaner fish, and to demonstrate a prototype product containing these polymers.

Job Description

How to get more from the marine environment? Exploitation of natural by-products and valorisation of such products on the market is the main focus of this project. To succeed with product development of research-intense compounds such as chitin and collagen, we will apply a strong emphasis on market needs and insights throughout the project. BlueCC is a sustainable and efficient manner to exploit underutilized marine raw materials, from laboratory to prototype demonstration, in order to reach collagen and chitin-based bioactive demonstrators with potential commercial use. This will be the key challenge of this PhD position.


As a PhD researcher, your tasks within this project involve:

  • Gathering invasive species from the marine, limnetic and aquaculture environments that contain chitin or collagen
  • Performing the isolation and extraction process based on green chemistry, enzymatic or microbial hydrolysis to provide chitin from these invasive species;
  • Establishing a workflow for high-throughput screening of microbes for the microbial fermentation of various chitin substrates;
  • Further developing an efficient chitin to chitosan conversion;
  •  A progressive upscaling of the process, to provide sufficient amounts of bioactive chitin/chitosan products;
  •  Valorisation and evaluation of the market potential of successful chitin compounds.


The PhD position is a ‘sandwich PhD’ between Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) and Ghent University. Your ILVO-promotor will be Dr. Johan Robbens. At ILVO, he heads the Blue Biotech cell within the Aquatic Environment and Quality department, located in Oostende. Your Ghent University promotor will be Prof. dr. Katleen Raes from Ghent University. Her group has been active in the field of Biochemical engineering for the past 20 years. The lab is located in Kortrijk.

Our Offer

  •  A 3 year PhD position in a collaboration between ILVO and Ghent Univeristy,
  • The position is situated within the international Eranet BlueBio project BlueCC, offering a broad network and collaboration, as 6 European countries are involved;
  •  The work is situated within an international challenging project in Blue Growth, an area identified by EU as one of the most promising growth sectors;
  •  A multi-disciplinary project dealing with different aspects of valorization, from source to market;
  •  You will be based in Ostend (ILVO), but certain work certain activities will be performed in Ostend and Kortrijk (Ghent University).

Profile of the candidate

Candidate Profile

  • You recently obtained a degree of Master of Science, Master of Science in Bioscience Engineering, Master of Science in Bio(-industrial) Sciences, or similar level;
  • You are interested in a PhD
  • You are willing to apply for extra funding (supported by staff of ILVO and Ghent University).

Candidate Skills

  • Fascinated by marine research and interested in applied research on marine biotech, looking for marketable products and industrial valorisation of the PhD results;
  • Knowledge of enzymatic chemistry, microbiology, and analytical chemistry;
  • Good communication skills including good written and verbal knowledge of the English language;
  • Able to work independently;
  • Working with a creative, critical and analytical mindset;
  • Team-player and eager to work within an interdisciplinary context

How to apply

How to apply?

All applications must be sent by email, no later than Wednesday, July 1th, 2020 at 23:59 (CET) to:

• Dr. Johan Robbens () AND

• Prof. Dr. Katleen Raes ()

The subject of your mail should contain; ‘Application PhD BlueCC’.

The following documents should be attached as one pdf-file:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • A transcript of the required degree
  • An overview of your study results

Students graduating in July 2020 are also welcome to apply.

Selection procedure

  • Screening of CVs: July 2nd, 2020.
  • Selection interviews: July 7th, 2020
  • Foreseen start of the PhD position: 1th September, 2020

After screening of CVs, you will be informed by phone or mail by July 3th, 2020. Pre-selected candidates will be invited for an interview. A case study will then be provided, to be prepared and presented during the interview. Please be sure to provide a phone number and email address where you can be reached during the day, and already block the given dates in your agenda. ILVO and Ghent University promote equality and diversity at the workplace. 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.

More information

For more information on the content of this position and the BlueCC project you may contact:

• Dr. Johan Robbens, Tel. +32 (0)59 56 98 50 –

• Prof. Dr. Katleen Raes, Tel. +32 (0)56 3220 08 –