Phd position on modelling phage-host dynamics in bioreactors
Last modification : Monday, August 29, 2022
We are offering a full-time PhD position in the framework of a bacterial
synthetic biology research project. We are looking for a motivated candidate
with interest in bioprocess engineering, computational biology, and synthetic
biology. You will work with Prof. Kristel Bernaerts (Division of Chemical and
Biochemical Reactor Engineering and Safety, Dept. Chemical Engineering, KU
Leuven) and will be guided in collaboration with Prof. Abram Aertsen (Lab of
Food Technology, KU Leuven) and Prof. Steffen Waldherr (Faculty of Life
Sciences, University of Vienna). You will be part of a young team of
researchers working on the project. KU Leuven offers a competitive and
international working environment with access to the latest technologies and
expertise. KU Leuven ranks among the top 100 universities in the world in
major ranking tables. The university commits to creating an inclusive,
respectful and safe environment for both working and living. Moreover, Leuven
is a lively, historic university city with a large international and diverse
student community and located only 30min from Brussels.
Bacteriophages are the viruses of bacteria and have the capacity to reproduce
themselves within a bacterial population through a cycle of infection and
bacterial lysis. In particular cases, phages can also integrate their genetic
material within the host cell and thrive within the bacterial population
awaiting favorable conditions for renewed lytic phage reproduction. The
project aims to exploit a number of phage features to repurpose bacterial
populations for controlled bioprocessing in a bioreactor.
The doctoral position in this vacancy focusses on the modelling of phage
infection dynamics and bioprocess performance criteria in bioreactors. You
will construct population balance models equipped with regulatory circuitry
and metabolic pathways that compute optimal phage and circuitry tuning and
You will collaborate with other PhD students that design and engineer the
phages. You will perform bioreactor experiments with the engineered phages to
determine phage-bacteria dynamics and performance under various conditions.
These data are particularly meant for identification of the model structure
and parameters. Analyses will include macroscopic as well as microscopic
measurements. Simulated optimal conditions for product maximization are
validated in a bioreactor.
You hold a master degree in bioscience engineering, (bio)chemical
engineering, bioprocess engineering, or a related field.
You have a good computational background, holding experience with
modelling of biological processes (e.g., bioreactor processes, genetic
circuits, population-balance modelling) and programming in Matlab or
You enjoy performing experiments (e.g., bioreactors, microbiological
analyses, microscopy), and can demonstrate some relevant experience.
You are a passionate researcher, with a critical mind and able to work
Advanced command of both spoken and written English is mandatory.
We offer you a full-time PhD position. Detailed employment conditions will
be shared upon contact.
We will support you in all aspects in order to successfully obtain a PhD
degree and will provided scientific and practical lab training.
You will be given opportunities to participate at national and
international meetings and establish your own network.
We offer a competitive salary
(https: // www. kuleuven.be/personeel/jobsite/en/phd/phd-
For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Kristel Bernaerts, mail:
You should upload a detailed Curriculum Vitae and transcript of courses
together with a concise letter of motivation in the online application portal.
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish,
regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If
you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us