PhD Position Protect - Quantifying Climate Change Effects on Food Safety

     
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WorkplaceLeuven, Flemish Region, Belgium
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Position

Description

PhD Position PROTECT - Quantifying Climate Change Effects on Food Safety

PROTECT our food production systems: develop PRedictive mOdelling Tools to evaluate the Effects of Climate change on food safeTy!

Climate change and food safety have become interdependent worldwide research priorities. The overarching aim of this Innovative Training Network (ITN) is to provide high-level training in Predictive mOdelling Tools to evaluate the Effects of Climate change on food safeTy (PROTECT). The project will provide sound scientifically based knowledge for management options and decisions on new and emerging food safety threats due to climate change. Specific case studies will be focused on the dairy industry (e.g. cheese, yogurt, liquid milk) and emerging chemical and biological threats. Tools will focus on the change in chemical levels and microbial populations in relation to the dairy industry and assess how levels will change under climate change pressures. The skills and knowledge gained through the network will be a critically important step towards better management of future food supplies.

The goals of the network will be achieved by a unique combination of "hands-on" research training, non-academic placements, summer schools and workshops on research-related and transferable skills facilitated by the academic and non-academic composition of the consortium. PROTECT brings together intersectoral and multidisciplinary expertise from 11 European Countries (7 third level educational institutions, 6 industry partners, 1 United Nations agency). The consortium will share technical and training expertise to recruit and train 8 highly skilled Early stage researchers (ESRs) in advanced modelling tools to investigate the impact of climate change on food safety. The research work consists of 3 technical work packages with 8 individual research projects each looking at a specific aspect of predictive modelling and the influence of climate change on food safety. An important element of the training network is the Network wide training events and industry secondments and the emphasis on training all ESRs in key transferable skills.

The project is currently recruiting 8 post-graduate researchers with specialization in Food Science, Biostatistics, Food Microbiology, Biosystems and Food Engineering, Environmental Science, Chemical and Environmental Engineering or related discipline.

The present vacancy concerns ESR3 "Modelling the dynamics of microbial change: dairy food products" to be recruited at KU Leuven/BioTeC+ team.

The vision of BioTeC+ (Chemical & Biochemical Process Technology & Control) is to consolidate and strengthen both its international research position and its societal impact by focusing on a carefully selected number of research areas and application domains in applied chemistry/chemical and biological process engineering. At present, these application domains can be characterized by the keywords industrial biotechnology, closing the water/waste cycle, and public health. These constitute the pillars (columns) (bio)chemical reactions & reactors, (biological) waste(-water) treatment systems, and predictive microbiology within BioTeC’s research matrix. This broad range of application domains is supported by our long standing systemic (systems and control) approach towards applied chemistry/chemical and biological process engineering. The research areas system theory and analysis, process model identification (including optimal experimental design), process monitoring, optimization and model based control characterize the transversal rows in the research matrix. These rows constitute the fundament of BioTeC’s research covering and underpinning all application domains (pillars). The underlying motivation is that model based solutions to chemical and biological process design, optimization and control are superior in performance and robustness as compared to plain heuristic approaches. In the case of microbial conversions for example, process optimization is aimed at by creating optimal environmental conditions for the cell. Therefore, this line of research is fully complementary to process optimization by genetically modifying the cell itself. To realize this mission, interdisciplinary research is required: both concepts and techniques from mathematical modeling and systems and control as well as detailed (micro-)biological/(bio-)chemical knowledge are essential building blocks for high performance process identification, intensification and control algorithms.

The vision of BioTeC+ (Chemical & Biochemical Process Technology & Control) is to consolidate and strengthen both its international research position and its societal impact by focusing on a carefully selected number of research areas and application domains in applied chemistry/chemical and biological process engineering. At present, these application domains can be characterized by the keywords industrial biotechnology, closing the water/waste cycle, and public health. These constitute the pillars (columns) (bio)chemical reactions & reactors, (biological) waste(-water) treatment systems, and predictive microbiology within BioTeC’s research matrix. This broad range of application domains is supported by our long standing systemic (systems and control) approach towards applied chemistry/chemical and biological process engineering. The research areas system theory and analysis, process model identification (including optimal experimental design), process monitoring, optimization and model based control characterize the transversal rows in the research matrix. These rows constitute the fundament of BioTeC’s research covering and underpinning all application domains (pillars). The underlying motivation is that model based solutions to chemical and biological process design, optimization and control are superior in performance and robustness as compared to plain heuristic approaches. In the case of microbial conversions for example, process optimization is aimed at by creating optimal environmental conditions for the cell. Therefore, this line of research is fully complementary to process optimization by genetically modifying the cell itself. To realize this mission, interdisciplinary research is required: both concepts and techniques from mathematical modeling and systems and control as well as detailed (micro-)biological/(bio-)chemical knowledge are essential building blocks for high performance process identification, intensification and control algorithms.

We are seeking highly motivated candidates that hold a master in Chemical Engineering/Bio-engineering related subjects such as Microbiology and Food Engineering. Experience in (i) experimental work in an L2 microbiology lab, (ii) experimental design techniques, and (iii) predictive modeling are particularly welcome. The candidate should be open to interdisciplinary collaboration and be interested in both fundamental and applied research. The candidate should have less than 4years FTE research experience and should have lived no longer than 12 months in Belgium during the last 3 year. 

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 [at] kuleuven[.]be.

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In your application, please refer to myScience.be and reference JobID 2654.

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