PhD Position in Genetic Engineering

Wageningen University

PhD Position in Genetic Engineering

May 28, 2024
Location Wageningen
End date Sun 23 June 2024
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Your job

Are you passionate about sustainable production of compounds and eager to contribute to much needed transition from fossil to renewable resources? We are looking for a mission-driven individual to join our team as a PhD candidate in Microbial Biotechnology, with a focus on fermentation technology and metabolic engineering.

To turn microbial bioprocesses into viable alternatives for petrochemical based production, we must drastically improve their yields, rates and titers. This asks for revolutionary approaches! Non-canonical redox co-factors allow to approach theoretical maximum yields. To reach the theoretical yield, all electrons of the substrate should end up in the product, but electrons generally diffuse away via common redox co-factors such as NAD+. Using non-canonical redox cofactors, we want gain control over the electron flow from substate to product. To implement this approach in E. coli and yeast, we work together in a large consortium involving 7 PhD students and 2 Postdocs from different groups at Wageningen University, Free University Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology led by Prof. Ruud Weusthuis (Wageningen University).

As PhD student you will be responsible for engineering strains to uncouple product formation from growth using non-canonical redox cofactors. This will be done in collaboration with other PhD students at WU and TUD in both yeast and E. coli. The major focus of the project will lie on in-depth screening and characterization of these strains in terms of for example yields and rates, but also strain stability and unexpected responses. For this you will combine advanced bioreactor cultivations, quantitative physiology and omics-analysis, to name a few.

Your duties and responsibilities include:

  • design and implement genetic strategies in yeast and E. coli to separately control a non-canonical redox cofactor-based product pathway and growth;
  • perform bioreactor cultivations in batch, continuous and perfusion modes;
  • in-depth characterization of cellular responses and energetics of engineered strains;
  • improve production through bioprocess and metabolic engineering;
  • data collection, analysis, reporting, and presentation of experimental data.
You will work here
You will join the Microbial Biotechnology research theme of the Bioprocess Engineeringchair. Bioprocess Engineering works on a sustainable and healthy future by engineering efficient bioprocesses for high quality natural products. The group offers expertise in reactor engineering, down-stream processing and metabolic engineering to teach and develop innovative bio-based processes. Our research both aims at the development of the scientific field as well as at applications in typical Wageningen themes such as circular processes, food and environmental sciences. The Microbial Biotechnology team engineers bioprocesses using bacteria and yeasts, for this we combine bioreactor design, quantitative physiology, metabolic and genetic engineering to enable and improve the sustainable production of (bulk) chemicals.


Your qualities

You are curious and passionate about microbial bioproduction, possess great problem-solving and analytical skills, and are highly motivated to contribute to the sustainable production of chemicals.

You also possess:

  • a successfully completed MSc degree in biotechnology, bioprocess engineering or another relevant field;
  • significant hands-on expertise with microbial bioreactor cultivations (preferably yeast and/or bacteria);
  • experience with commonly used genetic engineering tools, such as CRISPR-Cas, Golden Gate cloning, etc.;
  • strong critical thinking and organizational skills;
  • excellent writing and communication skills;
  • ability to work independently and in a team environment;
  • in-depth knowledge of the field and technology state-of-the-art;
  • experience with bioprocess engineering is a plus;
For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.


We offer you

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

  • partially 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 compensation / 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 € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,-  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 19th 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.

Because we expect you to work and live in the Netherlands 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. We can assist you with any additional advice and informationabout for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling. Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.


Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Ir. Mark Bisschops, principal investigator, by e-mail:

For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, corporate recruiter, by e-mail:

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 the 24th of June 2024. We hope to schedule the first job interviews early July 2024.

Additional information form
For this position, you must fill in a mandatory form which will allow us to have a comprehensive view of your qualifications and better assess your fit for it. You can access the form using THIS LINK
Your prompt response will ensure that your application continues to move forward in the evaluation process. We assure you that the information provided will be kept confidential and used solely for this application process.

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. 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 & 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, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and join us!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves and do not appreciate unasked for services from recruitment agencies. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.