PhD Position in Chemical and Microbiological Hazards of Mild-Processed Plant-Based Ingredients

Wageningen University

PhD Position on Chemical and Microbiological Hazards of Mild-Processed Plant-Based Ingredients

Published on
July 19, 2021

Location Wageningen

End date Sun 15 August 2021

We are looking for

Do you want to use your passion to study the possible toxicological and microbiological hazards of environmentally friendly-produced, plant-based food ingredients as a PhD researcher? Are you motivated to work in a team of scientists and international companies in an ambitious Dutch research program? We have a PhD position on chemical and microbiological hazards of mild-processed plant-based ingredients at Toxicology. Are you the PhD student we are looking for? 


The Toxicology and Food Microbiology groups of Wageningen University are looking for a PhD candidate. You will explore (novel) toxicological hazards produced by bacteria, fungi and/or plants as well as microbiological hazards that might be present in plant-based food ingredients that have only been mildly processed. For this you will develop novel hazard assessment and quantitative risk ranking approaches without the use of animal data. You will work in the Dutch Sustainable Plant Fractionation project with 4 other PhD candidates of Wageningen University in close collaboration with industrial partners.

This PhD position will be embedded in the Toxicology group where you will work for about 75% of your time, while about 25% of your research will focus on microbiological hazards in the Food Microbiological group.

To assess toxicological risks, you will use several in vitro cell culture models and molecular assays to study gene expression, and cellular responses (x-omics and biochemical measurements). In addition you will use computational toxicology approaches (i.e. in silico models) to extrapolate observed in vitro effects to potential human risks. You will be involved in supervision of MSc thesis students who work in our research teams. 

About the project:

The large TKI-Agrifood funded project aims to develop new and safe mild-processing technology for plant-based food ingredients. Importantly it will also investigate potential beneficial as well as adverse effects of mild-processing derived food ingredients on human health. The consortium in this large project consists of four private companies, NIZO Food Research, HAS Den Bosch and several chair groups of Wageningen University.
The research is embedded within the chair Toxicology, which is led by Prof. Ivonne Rietjens.  You will be co-supervised by Dr. ir. Hans Bouwmeester, associate professor.

We ask

You have

  • A successfully completed MSc degree (or equivalent) in biology, molecular life sciences, toxicological and microbiological food safety or a relevant related field;
  • excellent English language proficiency (a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page;
  • you are highly driven and curious. “Why?” is a question you often ask, both inside and outside of science;
  • you have a strong background in experimental science, and solid hands-on experience as well as a strong interest (or preferentially experience) in computational approaches, and quantitative risk assessments;
  • you have the ability to perform independent lab work, and affinity for the collaborative nature of this project, experience in working with human (stem cell-based) cell cultures under sterile conditions, molecular biology techniques (i.e. cytotoxicity assays, qPCR), confocal and electron microscopy, and -omics techniques will be considered as a pre;
  • experience with quantitative food safety risks assessments and a mechanistic understanding of toxicological hazards are key.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • Sabbatical leave, study leave, and paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.
The gross salary for the first year is € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well. 

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the Best University in the Netherlands for the 16th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad

Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family. 

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

Do you want more information?
For more information about this function, please contact Dr. ir. Hans Bouwmeester, associate professor, email:
For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, recruiter, email:

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval. 

This vacancy will be listed up to and including Monday August 16th. 

Equal opportunities 
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 6.500 employees and 12.500 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

Read the 5 reasons why your future collaegues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

Apply now