PhD Position in The Laboratory of Food Microbiology

Leuven, Louvain (BE)
Thursday, 25 June 2020
End of advertisement period
Friday, 24 July 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time


(ref. BAP-2020-489)

The Laboratory of Food Microbiology at KU Leuven studies the dynamics of growth, survival and inactivation of food pathogens in the natural and the man-made environment, to understand how they affect the safety of food products. Specific focus points are microbial interactions in these environments and the adaptation and development of resistance towards physical, biological and (bio)chemical stresses that these bacteria encounter over the entire food production chain. The mechanisms underlying this bacterial behavior are investigated from the molecular and cellular level up to the population and ecosystem level, using a combination of microbiological, genetic and omics approaches.


Linear azol(in)e-containing peptides (LAPs) are a rapidly expanding and largely underexplored class of bacterial ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptides, many of which exhibit strong antimicrobial activity. Despite their structural similarity, the mode of action and activity spectrum of LAPs show a remarkable diversity of which the structural basis and functional significance is poorly understood. This project aims to investigate the ecological role, structure-activity relationship and evolutionary flexibility of LAPs from Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus cereus, three notorious foodborne pathogens with different lifestyles. It will adopt an interdisciplinary research approach, utilizing a combination of enzymology, molecular microbiology, bioinformatics, bacterial genetics and analytical chemistry. 


We are looking for an ambitious and highly motivated candidate with:

  • A university Master’s degree in Bioscience Engineering, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biomedical sciences, Microbiology, Chemistry or a related discipline
  • Excellent communication skills in spoken and written English
  • Hands-on laboratory experience and knowledge of microbiology, microbial genetics and/or bioinformatics
  • The ability to work both as an independent researcher and as part of a interdisciplinary research team
  • A proactive and collaborative attitude and a commitment to high-quality research
  • Good organizational and problem-solving skills
  • The willingness to take part in teaching and public outreach activities, and to assist in the supervision of a limited umber of Bachelor and/or Master thesis students


We offer two full-time PhD positions, initially for 1 year but extendable to 4 years after positive evaluation. One PhD student will work in the Laboratory of Food Microbiology (the present vacancy) and the other will be based in the Laboratory for Biomolecular Discovery and Engineering (vacancy No BAP-2020-490), but they will work closely together in this project. Both labs offer a stimulating and collaborative international research environment with state-of-the art facilities and research equipment.Tailored supervision and guidance will be provided, along with a generous conference and travel budget, and the opportunity to participate in a wide range of scientific and transferable skills training programs available through KU Leuven.

The starting date is October 1st 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. The salary will be in accordance with the University salary scales for doctoral researchers and includes various additional benefits in terms of holidays, transport costs and health insurance. 

KU Leuven ranks first on the list of the most innovative universities in Europe. It is an internationally-oriented university that boasts a long tradition of pioneering research and high-quality education. The university has an excellent training program that allows PhD students to further develop their scientific and soft skills (KU Leuven Career Center, a wide range of specific courses, transferable skills training, etc.). The university is located in Leuven, a historic city with a young and vibrant atmosphere and a strong international allure. Located only 25 km from Brussels,the city is well connected to other major cities in Belgium and Europe, and easy to reach by plane, train and car.

More information about working at KU Leuven can be found here:



Please use the online application tool to submit your application. Applications should include a letter of motivation, a full CV including previous research experience and transcripts of Bachelor and Master diplomas.

For more information please contact Prof. Chris Michiels, tel.: +32 16 32 15 78, mail: chris.michiels@kuleuven.be 

You can apply for this job no later than July 24, 2020 via the online application tool

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 at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.