PhD Student

Updated: 5 months ago

Job description

The Laboratory of Protistology & Aquatic Ecology (Ghent University) is looking for a highly motivated PhD student to investigate the role of microbial interactions in the assembly and functioning of marine photosynthetic biofilms. While it is well-established that such biofilms can host a huge microbial diversity (of bacteria, microalgae, Protozoa and Fungi), little is known about how interactions between these microorganisms drive biofilm assembly and its functioning. We hypothesize that microbial specialization (and thus low functional redundancy) is important in marine biofilms and predominantly plays out in the context of direct and indirect interactions. To test this hypothesis, the successful candidate will combine state-of-the-art physiological, imaging and omics technologies (metagenomics and –transcriptomics, metabolomics) in laboratory and field experiments using unique biofilm model systems developed in the host lab, to identify and characterize microbial interactions within these biofilms and to assess how they affect the assembly and functioning of these consortia.


Design and perform laboratory and field experiments with marine photosynthetic biofilms

Physiological measurements (e.g. PAM fluorometry), imaging (microscopy, Imaging Flow Cytometry)

Metagenomics and -transcriptomics library preparation and data analysis, metabolomics

Reporting of results in peer-reviewed publications and in presentations at international conferences

Profile of the candidate

You hold a Master’s degree in Sciences: Biology, Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Bioscience Engineering, or a discipline that is declared admissible by the selection committee, or an equivalent degree. Final-year students can also apply as long as they finalize their MSc degree in July 2019.

You have a strong interest in microbial ecology. You are motivated to perform experiments in combination with molecular analyses and bioinformatics.

You preferably have practical experience in the isolation, cultivation, and experimental manipulation of microorganisms, including bacteria and/or microalgae.

You are self-critical, you work with rigor and attention for detail. A good knowledge of R and/or a scripting language (Python, Bash,…) is an asset. Additional experience in the analyses of (meta)genomic datasets and community analyses is a plus.

You have good communication and writing skills and have a very good knowledge of written and spoken English.

You combine being a team player with a strong sense of autonomy and responsibility.

You are willing to apply for additional funding.

How to apply

All applications must be received no later than 15/06/2019 at 23:59 (CET) at with the following documents compiled in a single file:

• application letter

• curriculum vitae

• a transcript of the required degree (or declaration that you will finalize your degree in July)

• names and contact details of at least two reference persons

You will get a confirmation e-mail as soon as we have received your application.

What we can offer you We offer you a PhD scholarship of 1 year, during which you will also apply (in collaboration with your promoters) for additional scholarship funding. Your appointment will start in September 2019. You will receive a PhD scholarship according to the general conditions at Ghent University. The tax free scholarship includes full social security coverage. You will work in a dynamic, international research group. All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as 38 days of paid leave, a wide range of training and education opportunities, bicycle commuting reimbursement, etc. A complete overview of all our fringe benefits can be found on our website.

Attention: Late applications are not accepted.

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.

More information

For more information about this vacancy please contact Prof. Koen Sabbe (, +32 (0) 9 264 85 11) or Prof. Wim Vyverman (, +32 (0) 9 264 85 01).

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