Predoctoral researcher

WorkplaceFlemish Region, Ghent, Belgium


Predoctoral researcher

Job description

The research project (GREENER) is part of a larger European private-public cooperation (Interreg V Flanders-the Netherlands, which aims at the synthesis of biobased and biodegradable polymers that can replace polyacrylic acid, as well as copolymers thereof. In this way, GREENER aims to contribute to a more sustainable world. At present, it happens still far too often that plastics based on polyacrylic acid are burned after use or dumped in landfills or oceans, where they contribute to microplastic pollution ("plastic soup") since polyacrylic acid is not biodegradable. The alternative polymer that will be developed in this project has the great advantage that it is biodegradable and non-toxic while natural substances are released upon degradation. The aim of this project is to valorize the new polyacrylic acid replacement polymer platform in the widest possible range of applications, namely superabsorbents in concrete, biomedical materials, cosmetic applications, paper processing and coatings.

As PhD candidate you will play an active role in the GREENER consortium. You are responsible for the synthesis of biobased and biodegradable hydrogels, and to evaluate their potential for mainly cosmetics, superabsorbents, biomedical and 3D printing applications. The candidate will collaborate with researchers at both universities and industrial partners, and based on their feedback, the research will be tuned. The candidate is open to upscale successful leads in the lab for application testing by industrial partners. The PhD candidate will perform a joint PhD between Ghent University (Belgium) and Maastricht University (the Netherlands). At Ghent University you will work in the Polymer Chemistry & Biomaterials Group of Professor S. Van Vlierberghe (?" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">, active in functional polymers for biomedical and biophotonic applications mainly including biomaterials, biocompatible coatings, scaffolds for tissue engineering and biosensors. At Maastricht University you will work in the group of Associate Professor K. Bernaerts at the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM -, which is part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering. The research in Bernaerts’ group focusses on the synthesis and the design of polymer materials with tunable properties exploiting the functionality of biobased building blocks. Your main place of employment will be Ghent University, and guest stays will be organized to Maastricht University, located at the Brightlands-Chemelot Campus in Geleen (Nl).

Profile of the candidate

The PhD candidate

  • holds a Master in Chemistry;
  • has strong polymer synthesis and characterization skills;
  • experience in hydrogels and biomedical applications is a pro;
  • is interested in polymer processing techniques like 3D printing and electrospinning;
  • ensures profound scientific publishing in peer review journals;
  • is open for upscaling of novel products or processes to support application tests by industrial partners;
  • likes to interact with academic and industrial partners;
  • is result driven, inventive, creative, counts with potential impact, works ’accountable’ and works with ownership;
  • masters scientific English for speaking, reading, and writing.
  • Knowledge of Dutch is not required.

How to apply

To apply, please submit via email to sandra.vanvlierberghe [at] ugent[.]be:

  • Cover letter including your motivation, your relevant experience (referring to the "description of the candidate", above)
  • Names and contact data of two people who could provide a reference
  • Diplomas/degrees including a grade transcript of previous education
In your application, please refer to
and reference  JobID 2037.

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