Postdoctoral Fellow in Bioscience Engineering

University of Antwerp Faculty of Science

Postdoctoral fellow in Bioscience Engineering

Department: Department of Bioscience Engineering
Regime Full-time

The University of Antwerp (UAntwerp) is a young, dynamic and forward-thinking university in the heart of Europe. It ranks 5th in the “Times Higher Education Millenials 2020” and 20th in the “QS Top 50 Under 50 2021”, and is a founding member of the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) alliance. We offer an innovative academic education to more than 20000 students, conduct pioneering scientific research and play an important service-providing role in society. We are one of the largest, most international and most innovative employers in the region. With more than 6000 employees from 130+ nationalities, we are helping to build tomorrow's world every day. Through top scientific research, we push back boundaries and set a course for the future – a future that you can help to shape. 

The Sustainable Air, Energy and Water Technology Research Group in the Bioscience Engineering Department (Faculty of Science) is looking for a full-time postdoctoral fellow in the field of bioprocess engineering for purple bacteria.

The Bioscience Engineering Department was created in 2006, recognizing a strong societal demand to educate experts in environmental technology, cell and gene biotechnology, chemistry and food technology, and land and forest management. In 2009, the Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology Research Group was founded, in which prof. Siegfried Vlaeminck launched the Microbial Cleantech and Systems Analysis Team in 2015, focusing on sustainable food, water and climate solutions. The team’s mission is to develop clean solutions based on microbial biotechnology and to improve the environmental impact of novel treatment and production systems. Key domains include single-cell protein (microbial protein) a.o. based on purple bacteria, wastewater treatment, nutrient recovery, nitrogen cycling, nitrification, anammox and bio-accelerated enhanced weathering. Our team is a core member of the Microbial Systems Technology Centre of Excellence, the Enviromics valorization consortium, the BlueApp innovation hub for sustainable chemistry, and the CAPTURE platform for resource recovery and circular economy. We pride ourselves on being a dynamic and international team actively embracing diversity.

As a postdoctoral fellow, you will be working on bioprocess engineering aspects of purple non-sulphur bacteria (PNSB). This field is rapidly moving forward with the first applications on pilot- and demo-scale in industrial and environmental biotechnology. Your project focuses on understanding the mechanisms purple bacteria use to adapt to different carbon and electron sources and how redox homeostasis mechanisms affect their competitiveness in microbial communities. This will involve experiments using flasks and bioreactors, and associated cutting-edge analytical techniques to characterize their growth and behaviour. Prof. Vlaeminck’s team has been active in this field over the past eight years.

The lab’s expertise links to the production of PNSB biomass on organics in different types of wastewater, using various reactor technologies and microbiome control tools. We also validated PNSB biomass as an excellent organic fertilizer for several crops (e.g. tomato, parsley,…), and as a high-potential feed ingredient for shrimps and fish. In a test with guppies, for instance, PNSB-containing feed yielded increased weight gain, offspring generation, colour and disease resistance. Industrial biotechnology applications are also targeted for food applications. The use of hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide, for instance, enables biomass production virtually ‘out of thin air’. We also study the functional properties of single-cell protein and extracts thereof for food applications (e.g. foaming, thickening,…). Another climate-friendly production route is based on the use of CO2 derivatives such as ethanol for the production of proteins and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). We are active in a project on the production of food packaging materials based on these purple bacteria products, for which we are currently producing PNSB at pilot scale.  


  • You will perform research on purple bacteria biotechnology at the Sustainable Air, Energy and Water Technology Research Group (DuEL), with prof. Siegfried Vlaeminck as academic supervisor.
  • You will prepare reports related to the progress of your research activities and will publish scientific articles related to the research project.
  • You will participate in national and international conferences, project meetings, conferences, workshops, etc…
  • You carry out a limited number of teaching and research support tasks (including proposal writing for funding acquisition) for the Department of Bioscience Engineering.


  • You hold a PhD degree in Bioscience Engineering, Biochemical Engineering Technology, Environmental Engineering, Bioprocess Engineering, Industrial Biotechnology or an equivalent field of applied (micro)biological sciences.
  • You have demonstrable laboratory experience in environmental or industrial biotechnology, working with pure bacterial strains and/or bacterial communities, have performed experiments with bioreactors, and are skilled in axenic work, physical/chemical analyses, as well as molecular microbial analyses (eg 16S sequencing). Experience with phototrophs and photobioreactors is an advantage.
  • You are first author of papers published in journals indexed by Web of Science.
  • You have outstanding oral and written communication skills in English and communicate clearly and honestly.
  • You have excellent interpersonal skills to collaborate constructively and respectfully with scientific team members and with BSc/MSc students.
  • You manage your time and budget well, and are able to meet objectives efficiently within set deadlines.
  • You are a creative, out-of-the-box thinker.
  • You are strong in working proactively and independently, with an outcome-focused, problem-solving mentality.
  • You act with attention to quality and integrity.
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies.

What we offer

  • We can offer a postdoctoral scholarship for a total period of three years. Following a positive evaluation after one year, the scholarship will be renewed for two years.
  • The planned start date is August 1st, 2023, or as soon as possible.
  • Your monthly scholarship corresponds to a net payment of at least 2500 EUR.
  • You will receive ecocheques, internet-connectivity allowance, and a bicycle allowance or a full reimbursement of public transport costs for commuting.
  • You will do most of your work at the Groenenborgercampus in a safe, stimulating and green working environment.
  • An open and flexible work environment that encourages creativity, self-realization and critical thinking, and offers opportunities.
  • The possibility to tutor and co-supervise BSc, MSc and PhD students working on your research topic.
  • The opportunity to build a broad network of scientific and industrial partners.
  • The opportunity to develop new personal competencies through professional training moments, courses and workshops.
  • A unique chance to make a difference, and personally contribute to the development of sustainable biotechnological answers to urgent societal challenges.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including May 1st 2023 (by midnight Antwerp time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: a motivation letter and your academic CV.
  • The selection committee will review all applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure. Please make a note of the following date for a job interview: May 22nd 2023 in the afternoon (Antwerp time).
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Siegfried Vlaeminck (

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.