PhD Student

Updated: about 1 month ago

Job description

Project “Impact of electroactive biofilms on corrosion processes”:

Corrosion can be defined as the deterioration of a metal due to the (electro-)chemical interaction with its environment. This deterioration leads to a yearly cost estimated between 3 and 4% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and can lead to deadly accidents and ecological catastrophes. Although non-biological processes have been the focus in corrosion sciences, the large impact of living organisms has been increasingly recognized and investigated in the last decades. However, a general understanding of bio-corrosion is lacking because of the numerous and entangled bio-physicochemical mechanisms that can possibly intervene. This limited knowledge impedes the development of predictive models of bio-corrosion as well as its prevention.

Numerous biological mechanisms have been proposed to influence corrosion. Among them, it has been shown that a substantial amount of microorganisms are able to directly exchange electrons with a conductive surface, including metals and alloys such as steel. These microorganisms can form so-called electro-active biofilms (EABs) able to conduct electrons. By interacting electro-chemically with a an underlying metal, those biofilms can modify corrosion mechanisms and corrosion rate to a large extent. Multiple electron transfer mechanisms have now been identified but not yet correlated to the corrosion process. The overall objective is thus to investigate the nature and role of specific extracellular electron transfers in bio-corrosion of different metals.

The corresponding research is challenging for its complexity and multidisciplinarity (microbiology, (bio)electrochemistry, corrosion science). This mix of skills will be acquired by the student through collaborations within CMET and with scientific partners.

Profile of the candidate

Background and experience

• Scientific researcher: A Master degree in either electrochemistry, corrosion science, microbiology, bioscience engineering or equivalent, completed before the start date of the position, with excellent grades.

• Any experience in one or several of the aforementioned fields will be greatly appreciated.

Scientific knowledge and skills

• Knowledge in one or more of the following topics: microbiology (growth and management of pure cultures and mixed-communities), (bio)electrochemistry (work with potentiostats), bioengineering (basic reactor work) or materials science (surface characterization). Considering the multidisciplinary approach, it is naturally expected that some of those skills will be developed during the course of the PhD with the help of colleagues and supervisors.

• Ability to rigorously design experiments and to perform experiments under well-controlled conditions.

• Be experienced and interested in interdisciplinary research

• Ability to perform in-depth and critical data analysis.

• Ability to communicate through high-quality scientific channels. Personal knowledge and skills

• A strong interest in multi-disciplinary science

• Excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively with team members from different backgrounds and in different research areas.

• Excellent skills for time management and the ability to meet objectives within strictly set deadlines.

• Good oral and written communication skills in English are strictly required (C1 level).

• Demonstrated ability to work efficiently and with minimum supervision.

• Outcome focused, hands-on mentality.

• Willingness to travel internationally for project meetings and conferences.

Type of employment

• PhD candidate researcher: Full-time, fixed-term appointment for initially 1 year, yearly renewable after positive evaluation up to 4 years. Intended starting date: 1st of April 2020 (or earlier if possible).

• A competitive salary including benefits is offered, salary levels account for years of professional experience.

• Ghent University is an equal opportunity employer.

How to apply


The Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) formally LabMET; is part of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University, a top 100 university in most rankings. CMET has over 40 years of experience in the study of applied microbial processes and microbial ecology in the contexts of waste(water) treatment, bioremediation, bioproduction, bioelectrochemistry and resource recovery. It is one of the top performing centers worldwide in its field and links excellent basic science with application, leading to high level peer-reviewed outputs besides commercial outcomes including 7 spin-off companies over time. Prof. Korneel Rabaey and Dr. Antonin Prévoteau will be the promotors of this PhD project. Prof. Rabaey is a pioneer in the field of microbial electrochemistry and Dr Prévoteau has been working for 7 years of experience as a postdoc in bioelectrochemistry of electroactive biofilms. CMET is a very multidisciplinary team and has a very international atmosphere.


Submission and closing date Applications must be sent via email to [email protected] as pdf or word documents, with in the subject line mentioning “Biocorrosion_PhD”. Final closing date is February 29th 2020 (23h59 CET), but applications will be regularly reviewed prior to the deadline hence early application is recommended. Application files

1. Cover Letter. The cover letter should include the position reference, your contact address and telephone number. It is an opportunity -in not more than one page- to introduce yourself and highlight the key reasons you should be considered for the role, taking into account the required skills.

2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae. A resume is a brief history of your employment and experience that covers the following areas:

• Educational qualifications and professional affiliations that detail the full title of the qualification, the year awarded and the title of the institution attended;

• Employment history in chronological order, starting with current position and specifying dates of employment, title of each position, name of employer, main duties or accountabilities and achievements;

• Research fields and current interests, publications if available, research grants awarded.

• The names and contact details (address, telephone, e-mail) of three referees, including if possible a senior person (preferably your supervisor, manager or head of organizational unit) closely associated with your current work. A referee must be able to comment on your work experience, skills and performance with respect to the selection criteria. 3. Selection Criteria. A statement addressing how each of the selection criteria has been met is required to assist the Selection Committee determine whether you have the relevant qualifications, knowledge/skills, experience and personal qualities.

Selection process

A Selection Committee will consider all applications and shortlist candidates for interview who appear to meet the selection criteria at the highest levels. They will be invited to attend an interview and the remaining unsuccessful applicants will be notified accordingly. An invitation to attend an interview provides an opportunity to provide further information to the Selection Committee to substantiate your claims against the selection criteria or demonstrate your capabilities. Please note that for some positions interviews may be conducted by teleconference in the first instance. The Selection Committee will subsequently seek referee reports, if not sought prior to interview, before making a decision to make an offer of appointment to the preferred candidate. The purpose of referee checks is to obtain, in confidence, factual information about your past work history, as well as opinions regarding the quality of your work, behavior in the work place and suitability for the position. Referee reports may be sought orally, or for academic staff, in writing by post or e-mail.

If you are the preferred candidate, you will receive a written offer of appointment to the position. Do not take any action, such as resigning from your current position, before you receive a written offer of appointment.

More information regarding this position Please contact Dr. Antonin Prévoteau ([email protected]) and Professor Korneel Rabaey ([email protected]).

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