Doctoral scholarship holder, Ecology of Infections

WorkplaceAntwerpen, Flemish Region, Belgium
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Department: Department of Biology Regime Full-time

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The University of Antwerp is a dynamic, forward-thinking, European university. We offer an innovative academic education to more than 20 000 students, conduct pioneering scientific research and play an important service-providing role in society. We are one of the largest, most international and most innovative employers in the region. With more than 6000 employees from 100 different countries, we are helping to build tomorrow's world every day. Through top scientific research, we push back boundaries and set a course for the future – a future that you can help to shape.

The Department of Biology in the Faculty of Sciences is looking for a full-time doctoral scholarship holder in the field of Ecology of Infections


  • You will work actively on the preparation and defence of a PhD thesis on variation in host infectiousness in a wild bird-tick-pathogen system. A crucial factor to predict the persistence and spread of infections in natural systems (and potential spill-over to humans) is the capacity of reservoir hosts to maintain the infection and transmit it to others. This is known to vary greatly between species, but also within species and through time, although this part of the variation is often less well understood. Great tits are among the most important reservoirs of Borrelia garinii, a major causal agent of Lyme disease. You will study how the capacity of birds to transmit these bacteria to their tick vectors varies between individual birds, how it varies through the annual cycle, and whether stressful episodes may reactivate infections. This will be done through a combination of targeted field and lab experiments using birds from an intensively studied wild population. Infection status will be determined by xenodiagnosis (capacity of the bird to infect naive ticks) and molecular diagnoses.
  • You will work in the Evolutionary Ecology group that has strong expertise in studying ecology of infections in wild vertebrates and offers a dynamic and international working environment ( ).
  • You will present findings at (inter)national meetings, and publish scientific articles related to the research project.
  • You will carry out a limited number of teaching and research support tasks for the Evolutionary Ecology Group.


  • You hold a Master degree in Biology, Biomedical Science, Veterinary Science or a related field (or you will have obtained it by the time you start your position).
  • You have a basic background in ecological concepts, and a strong interest in studying the ecology of infections in a natural system.
  • Experience with handling animals is an advantage but not strictly required.
  • You are willing to combine intensive fieldwork with lab-based experimental work and data analysis.
  • You can demonstrate excellent study results.
  • Your teaching competences are in line with the University of Antwerp’s educational vision .
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies .
  • You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity and cooperation.

What we offer

  • We offer a doctoral scholarship for an initial one-year period. Following a positive evaluation, this will be renewed for an additional three years.
  • The planned start date is 1 April 2022 or as soon as possible after that date.
  • You will receive training and gain experience in field and lab research on wild birds and analysis of experimental and epidemiological data.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will do most of your research at Campus Drie Eiken (Wilrijk) in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.
  • You are supervised by a multidisciplinary team including Prof. Erik Matthysen (University of Antwerp), Dr. Dieter Heylen (Institute for Tropical Medicine, Antwerp) and Dr. Hein Sprong (RIVM, Netherlands).
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here .

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including 10 February 2022 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: a motivation letter and your academic CV.
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to . If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Erik Matthysen, professor, at .

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.

Excellent HR policy for researchers

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In your application, please refer to and reference JobID 5133.