PhD student

Ghent University


July 23, 2021


→ Apply before 23/07/2021 23:59 (Brussels Time) → Faculty of Bioscience Engineering → Department: BW22 - Dierwetenschappen en Aquatische Ecologie → Occupancy rate:100% → Number of positions: 1.00 → Type of employment: Contract of unlimited duration with a 4 year clause → Term of assignment: → Wage scale: WM1 to WM4 (master degree) → Required diploma: Master


Ghent University is a world of its own. Employing more than 8,000 people, it is actively involved in education and research, management and administration, as well as technical and social service provision on a daily basis. It is one of the largest, most exciting employers in the area and offers great career opportunities. With 11 faculties and more than 80 departments offering state- of-the-art study programmes grounded in research in a wide range of academic fields, Ghent University is a logical choice for its staff and students.

Job description

We welcome candidates for a full time Joint PhD student position at the Laboratory for Animal Nutrition and Animal Product Quality (LANUPRO, Prof. S. De Smet), UGent and the Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology (IMDO, Prof. F. Leroy), VUB. The PhD student will be linked to the EU project PATHWAYS (Pathways for transitions to sustainability in livestock husbandry and food systems).

PATHWAYS is an EU H2020 project with 30 European partners, which starts on 1 September 2021. The PATHWAYS aims at delivering co-developed transition pathways that directly address societal demands for increased resilience in the provision of safe, nutritious, affordable livestock-based food, whilst reducing environmental impacts, and supporting the economic sustainability of the European livestock sector. Visions, scenarios and transition pathways will be co-developed through an ambitious participatory approach based on innovative practice hubs, living labs and interaction within a European multi- actor platform and a wider community of practice. Existing and future, co- designed livestock systems will be characterised and assessed within a scientifically robust, holistic sustainability assessment framework, comprising refined key performance indicators and cutting-edge models, to enhance understanding of productivity, biodiversity, health and welfare, greenhouse gas emissions, human nutrition, trade and economics, and ecosystem service impacts. Living labs and practice hubs will identify bottom-up interventions and adoption routes that will drive a transition to improved livestock system development. Consumer preferences, diet choices and willingness to pay will be supported by consequential LCA and economic analysis of trade and supply chain impacts, addressed through stakeholder input and modelling. The participatory development and application of a holistic sustainability assessment will deliver a scientifically robust analysis for the co-development of scenarios and transition pathways to inform key stakeholders throughout livestock-based food systems, driving a transition to greater sustainability. PATHWAYS will improve the role of livestock in supporting a circular bio-economy and the place of animal products in future diets through an interactive online platform and policy toolkit to provide user-friendly instruments for a range of stakeholders.

The role of the PhD student in this project is

  • to make a comprehensive inventory of (micro)nutrients and minor bioactive compounds in the main foods relevant for European diets,
  • to construct a variety of ‘food baskets' able to provide adequate nutrition to 5-6 dietary archetypes (e.g., vegan, lacto-vegetarian, industrial omnivores, carnivore - approx. 3 baskets per archetype) and subpopulations (e.g., children, adolescents, elderly),
  • to incorporate environmental trade-offs and impacts (GHG emissions, land use, water use, etc.) on the sustainability of these food baskets.
  • Given the interdisciplinary and data-based character of the research, collaboration and exchange with other partners in the project and interest in data acquisition and modelling at the interface of nutrition and food systems will be key. The scientific findings should lead to publications in international peer reviewed journals and into a PhD manuscript.

    Profile of the candidate

    Candidates should have background and/or strong interest in food systems, nutrition, food science, sustainability, data acquisition and statistical modelling. We are looking for candidates with a critical and analytical attitude and eager to take initiative.

  • You hold a Master degree in bioscience engineering, nutrition, food science or similar.
  • You have strong interest in scientific research in order to obtain a PhD degree.
  • You have affinity for quantitative research in food systems and sustainable diets.
  • You have good interpersonal and communication skills.
  • You are fluent in spoken English and competent in scientific writing in English.
  • You have organisational skills and can operate both independently and in a multidisciplinary team.
  • We offer a fully funded doctoral scholarship for a period of 4 years (with an evaluation after one year and continuation after positive evaluation). The preferred start date of the scholarship is 1 September 2021. This is a Joint PhD between UGent and VUB.

    How to apply?

    Send an email to Prof. Dr. Ir. Stefaan De Smet ( and Prof. Dr. ir. Frédéric Leroy ( before 16 July 2021, with subject ‘Application for PATHWAYS' and include:

  • a copy of your CV, including study results in a file with name ‘CV surname'
  • a motivation letter (max. 1 page) in a file with name ‘Motivation letter surname' describing your research interests, skills and motivation to apply for the position
  • contact details (name, phone email) of at least one reference person
  • From the submitted applications, a shortlist of candidates will be selected and will be invited for an interview. The interviews of the candidates will take place in July/August. Selection will be based on competences, independent from gender, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or physical disability.

    More information can be obtained from Prof. Dr. ir. Stefaan De Smet (Tel 0032 99 264 90 03, Email or Prof. Dr. ir. Frédéric Leroy (Tel 00 32 2 629 36 12, Email

    Do you have a question? Please read our FAQ regarding the online application process.

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