PhD for project LiFeTracer

PhD for project LiFeTracer

Published Deadline Location
12 Dec 21 Jan Wageningen

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Job description

We are looking for a PhD candidate for the project "Lignin as intrinsic Tracer for gastrointestinal transit behavior and Feed digestion (LiFeTracer)". The selected candidate will be part of a larger (TTW-NWO) project, working with another PhD student and researchers from the Animal Nutrition group of the Wageningen University & Research, in collaboration with various related companies. The aim of LiFeTracer is to set-up methodology to use lignin or a recalcitrant lignin-fraction, intrinsically present in the feed, as tracer in digestion studies, via 1. Quantitative and qualitative lignin analysis in feed and digesta; 2. Validate that lignin does not disappear nor change during passage through the intestinal tract; 3. Set-up implementation in large-scale animal nutrition studies via high-throughput NIR analysis, feasible for lignin, but impossible for current tracers used.

Metal oxides such as titanium dioxide, are commonly used as inert tracer to evaluate digesta transit and digestibility, but do not well represent fiber-rich diets in monogastric animals. Nevertheless, fiber-rich co-products increase in animal nutrition as a result of our circular economy, and future protein demand asks for selection of fiber-compatible animal genotypes. Hereto, digestibility mapping in large-scale field studies are key, but currently impossible with common tracers (metal oxides).

The Food Chemistry PhD candidate will set-up and optimize lignin analysis taking into account feed and digesta matrix effects and taking into account presence of conventional markers. In addition, 13C-/12C-lignin will be isolated and identified from grain pericarp/seeds. The content and structure of lignin in digesta of three tract segments will be determined of three animal trials. Both analytical pyrolysis-GC-MS and 2D-NMR methodology will be carried out by the PhD-student. Eventually, lignin as marker should be made possible via NIR analyses, which is a concerted action of all researchers and companies in this project.


Wageningen University & Research


For this challenging position we are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:
  • MSc in the field of biological chemistry or lignin chemistry, with strong affinity for lignocellulose degradation;
  • intrinsic interest to independently search for answers on fundamental and applied research questions;
  • experience with GC-MS and NMR is a benefit;
  • excellent research skills;
  • ability to work in a multi-disciplinary project;
  • excellent communication skills.
The selected PhD fellow should have passed for an English proficiency test (e.g. TOEFLL or IELTS) or have an approved English MSc degree.

Conditions of employment

We offer you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2325,-. in the first year rising up to € 2972,- per month in the fourth year, based on a full-time appointment.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of our University is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialized research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, it is one of the leading organizations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

The Laboratory of Food Chemistry (FCH) engages in teaching and research on chemical reactions occurring during processing of raw materials into foods, on the functionality of food ingredients, and on the efficient conversion of biomass remaining after processing. The research of FCH is divided in five areas, i.e. (i) dietary carbohydrates, (ii) lignocellulosics, (iii) phytochemicals, (iv) proteins and (v) lipids, and has state-of-the-art infrastructure to facilitate the research, including ESI-iontrap MS, ESI-TOF-MS, MALDI-TOF-TOF-MS, GC-MS,(U) HPLC, CE, and preparative chromatography. FCH has access to excellent NMR and ESR facilities. FCH is a dynamic international team comprising around 15 staff members, 25 PhD students and post-docs, and 40 BSc and MSc thesis students annually. More information on our team can be found at

Equal opportunities employer
We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their race, sex, disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation or age.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Food
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 576750


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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