PhD Student

Last application date
Sep 30, 2020 23:59
LA21 - Department of Plants and Crops
Employment category
Research staff group 1
Limited duration
Master degree in Bioscience Engineering, Engineering, Physics, Biology, or an equivalent relevant degree. Students who will graduate in September 2020 can also apply for this position.
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description


SpaceBakery: Closed ecological plant cultivation system and bakery for extended stays on planet Mars and their applications for planet Earth (a large 2.5-years research project) The full project focusses on bringing the entire production cycle of bread to Mars. Our contribution will focus on monitoring, modelling and optimising the growth, development, and ecophysiology of wheat, grown under controlled conditions, useful not only in space, but also for applications on Earth, such as urban vertical farming.


  • Develop an innovative 3-D plant model (functional-structural plant model or FSPM) for wheat.
  • Model the dynamic plant-climate interactions in fully controlled cultivation systems.
  • Apply the model to steer the growth, development, and ecophysiology of wheat towards a higher quality crop.
  • Use of large datasets obtained with plant sensors and manual measurements for modelling purposes.
  • Data analysis and interpretation.
  • Synthesis of research results in internal project reports.
  • Present results during national or international conferences, seminars and workshops.
  • Participation in a collaborative, interdisciplinary consortium, with highly motivated researchers and companies.



  • The candidate will work at the Laboratory of Plant Ecology (Department of Plants and Crops, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University) under the supervision of Prof. Kathy Steppe. The project is at the core of the lab’s mission:
  • Datasets are obtained (see other vacancy) in climate rooms (UGent) and in the closed cultivation systems of Puratos (Groot-Bijgaarden) and Urban Crop Solutions (Waregem).


Tentative starting date: September 2020.

Profile of the candidate

  • Highly motivated to conduct research.
  • Strong interest in plant functioning, plant-climate interactions, space farming and/or vertical farming.
  • Strong affinity with plants.
  • Knowledge of (3D) modelling, or highly motivated to learn this skill.
  • Mathematical and analytical mindset.
  • Organizational skills, and problem-solving, result-oriented attitude.
  • Excellent communication skills in English – both orally and written.
  • A team player who can work independently and has good communication skills.

How to apply

  • The application has to be submitted electronically (in a single pdf-file) to
  • Include a motivation letter and your CV, and if possible, an overview of study results. - Submit your application as soon as possible, as a decision may be taken before 30 September (deadline).
  • For more information about the project, contact Prof. Dr. ir. Kathy Steppe (