PhD in Ex situ and in situ quantification of structure-functional relationships in texturized novel protein sources

PhD in Ex situ and in situ quantification of structure-functional relationships in texturized novel protein sources

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19 Jun yesterday Wageningen

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Job description

Are you interested in developing cutting-edge ex situ and in situ NMR/MRI measurement techniques for characterizing structure and texture formation in novel protein sources? Are you intrigued by how frontier ingredients, such as edible insects, can be processed into food ingredients and into our future food? Are you willing to pursue a career in academia? Within Wageningen University and Research, we have an open PhD position in the field of ex situ and in situ experimental quantification of structural-textural properties of novel protein sources.

This PhD project will take place at the Laboratory of Biophysics (BIP) and Food Quality and Design group (FQD) at WUR, and it aims at experimentally characterizing the extrusion-driven formation of complex food matrices based on protein-rich materials, both traditional and novel.

As a PhD candidate, you will:
  • systematically explore how structure/texture formation in protein extrudates, produced with novel food sources alternative to animal proteins, is affected by the degree of pre-processing, the ratio of novel and traditional food ingredients, as well as by extrusion conditions;
  • use, and/or further develop, frontier non-invasive NMR/MRI measurement techniques translatable from ex situ to in situ conditions . This is done to achieve a comprehensive characterization of extrusion-driven formation of hierarchical structural and textural properties in such materials;
  • use high- and low-moisture both on a benchtop mini-extruder;
  • work with edible insects as a novel protein source.

Supporting information at the sample-scale will be provided by traditional, invasive, ex situ methods (texture analysis, bulk rheology etc). Where suitable, complementary ex situ and in situ small-angle neutron and X-ray scattering measurements will also be acquired at ISIS facility in the UK. NMR/MRI measurements will be conducted using state-of-the-art low- (0.4 T) and high-field (7 or 14 T) spectrometers available at the MAGNEtic resonance FacilitY (MAGNEFY) in WUR. Where needed, the worldwide most advanced ultra-high field NMR spectrometers (22 or 28 T) available within the Dutch uNMR-NL consortium will also be used to boost sensitivity and chemical/spatial resolution. All technical developments will be carried out with the support of the workshops at WUR and BIP.

Your duties and responsibilities include:
  • conducting research (designing extrusion and measurement methods, collecting and processing experimental data, analyzing the results);
  • writing scientific publications which will form the basis of your PhD dissertation;
  • prepare and present scientific results to project group meetings and the broad scientific community;
  • fulfil requirements of PhD program

You will work here
Your research will be done in two groups: Laboratory of Biophysics (BIP) and Food Quality and Design group (FQD) which are both part of Wageningen University and Research.


Wageningen University & Research


You are an ambitious and enthusiastic scientist.You have the following competencies and skills:
  • a successful completed MSc degree in Physical Chemistry, Physics, Food Science, Materials Science, Biotechnology, Chemical Engineering;
  • knowledge of (food) proteins, and their functional characteristics;
  • research experience, or strong willingness to learn, extrusion, rheology, imaging experimental techniques, preferably NMR and MRI;
  • familiarity with data processing and interpreting, preferably using Matlab and/or Python;
  • you are critical thinker, problem solver, and have strong management skills;
  • you have strong academic writing (evidence from your thesis and/or publications);
  • excellent English for communication and writing scientific publications, ability to interact constructively with experts from different fields and technicians;

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.

Conditions of employment

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 information about 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.


Wageningen University & Research

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 watch the video below to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Food
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • P1548101-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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