PhD Student

Last application date
Jul 15, 2020 13:00
LA20 - Department of Environment
Employment category
Doctoral fellow
Limited duration
Master in Science, Bioscience Engineering, Engineering
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

You will be hired by UGent-Woodlab (the first two years) and by UAntwerpen-PLECO (the last two years). The Laboratory of Wood Technology, or short UGent-Woodlab (, is a research team of UGent, located at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering. UGent-Woodlab aims at an integrated strategy for the forestry-wood chain to contribute to the bio-economy. Furthermore, the team tackles climate change issues by learning from trees as archives of the past and biosensors of the present. UGent-Woodlab has strong expertise in non-destructive X-ray CT scanning of wood ( The research group Plant and Ecosystem (PLECO, of the Department of Biology of the University of Antwerp studies the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems with a particular interest in global change impacts and feedbacks. Tree phenology and seasonal growth is a key research focus. PLECO is involved in several European projects; the closest to this vacancy is the ERC project LEAF-FALL (

Within the context of a recently approved FWO project on dynamics of wood formation and leaf phenology of European temperate deciduous trees (“A game-changing perspective on intra-seasonal wood formation dynamics using high-resolution X-ray Computed Tomography to elucidate leaf senescence and autumn dynamics of temperate deciduous trees in Europe”), we are looking for an excellent PhD candidate to work on intra-seasonal wood formation (xylogenesis), leaf phenology (autumn senescence) and X-ray CT technology. The first two years, your task will be to develop suitable protocols for sample preparation, sample staining as well as software development, for automated X-ray CT scanning and analysis in function of wood formation. The last two years, you will apply the new method to study the relationship between wood formation and autumn leaf phenology across various European sites. Research stays abroad in partner institutes (WSL, Switzerland, and SFI, Slovenia) are foreseen. We offer a full-time PhD position for a maximal period of 4 years (upon positive progress evaluation), between October 1st, 2020 and September 30th, 2024. The research is fundamental and innovative, and requires both programming skills, hands-on lab work with clear practical applications and data analysis. You will join a young and enthusiastic team of researchers at PLECO-UAntwerpen, UGent-Woodlab and UGCT.

Profile of the candidate

  • You have a master degree in (Bio-) Science/Engineering.
  • You have a strong interest in wood formation, leaf phenology and X-ray CT scanning.
  • You are interested in and motivated by the research topic.
  • You have excellent analytical skills.
  • You speak and write English fluently.
  • You have good communication skills.
  • You have an open mind and a multi-disciplinary attitude.
  • You have an interest in working with or knowledge and experience on tree-ring analysis, wood formation, phenology, data analysis and / or non-destructive imaging.
  • You have experience with hands-on lab work.
  • ICT / programming skills (Python / R) are required.

How to apply

Applications must contain the following documents (in English):

  • Short personal motivation letter mainly elaborating on your interest and experience in the specific domains mentioned above.
  • Scientific resume and diplomas. 
  • Detailed academic results (courses and grades).
  • Relevant publications if any.
  • Two reference contacts.

The documents should be sent to prof. dr. ir. Jan Van den Bulcke () and prof. dr. ir. Matteo Campioli (), before the 15th of July, 2020, 13 PM CEST. The subject of your e-mail should be CTwood_family name_first name. After the first screening, suitable candidates will be invited for an interview (also possible via Skype or MS Teams).