PhD scholarship – Plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat

Updated: about 1 month ago

The PhD project will be a part of an alliance project between DTU in Lyngby and University of Queensland, Australia. The main part of the project will be conducted at DTU Food in the research group of Microbial Biotechnology and Biorefining. During the 3 years there will be a ½ year external stay at University of Queensland in the laboratory of Mark Turner.

The research group Microbial Biotechnology and Biorefining is divided in different focus areas that are working with dairy, brewing industry, fermented plant products as well as metabolic engineering.

The area that the PhD will be working in, aims to attain new knowledge on starter cultures using plant-derived lactic acid bacteria for plant-based alternatives to dairy and meat. Additionally, we focus on fermentation and valorization of waste streams from the food industries.

One of the major trends that will shape the food industry in the future is non-dairy (vegan) alternatives to cow milk derived, protein rich products such as cheese, milk and yogurts. This is in order to reduce the carbon footprint and provide sustainable food production where plant fermentation may provide health benefits, longer shelf life and safer products. The area is headed by senior scientist Claus Heiner Bang-Berthelsen, a large part of the research is conducted in a collaboration with a number of major industrial partners within food, ingredients and enzymes.

Responsibilities and tasks

In this task, a combined strain collection of almost 6.000 microbial strains will be explored. Candidate strains will be characterized based on various parameters. Both in terms of safety and fermentation capabilities. The following investigations will especially be in the pipeline:

  • Sugar utilization
  • Pathogenicity
  • Biotic and abiotic tolerances
  • Metabolomics
  • Flavor production
  • Acidification
  • Genomics
  • Pathogen inhibition
  • Survival during simulated gastrointestinal transit

Additionally, the candidate will be involved in the teaching and education as well as other activities such as general maintaining the laboratory, equipment as well as the strain collection. 


We are looking for a candidate with a solid background in two or more of the following areas:

  • Biobanking
  • MALDI TOF biotyper
  • Lactic acid bacterial biology
  • Work with DNA and RNA analysis 
  • Phenotype screening of lactic acid bacteria
  • Enzyme assays, colorimetry assays
  • HPLC
  • Microscopy
  • Plant physiology

We expect that you are an efficient team worker, have good communication skills, and have a critical approach to the formulation and testing of hypotheses. In addition, we appreciate a good sense of humor. Written and spoken Danish and English is a prerequisite as there is teaching obligations during the project.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

We additionally are looking for at for a candidate with a strong background within lactic acid bacterial biology as well as good understanding of plant microbiome and plant ecology. A candidate with some experience from industry will be preferred. The candidate may have studied a MSc program in microbiology, biotechnology, plant biology, food science.

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in the DTU food PhD school. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide .


The assessment of the applicants will be made by Senior scientist Claus Heiner Bang-Berthelsen DTU Food

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DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

Further information

Further information may be obtained from senior scientist Claus Heiner Bang-Berthelsen, DTU Food, tel.: +45 2986 6900 or email

You can read more about DTU food at www.fø  and about the microbial biotechnology and biorefining


Please submit your online application no later than 29April 2020 (23:59 local time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Publication list
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here )

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The National Food Institute (DTU Food) works within six technical focus areas: Biotechnology, nutrition, food quality, food safety, food technology and environment & human health. Activities cover a wide range of food products throughout the entire food chain from farm to table, comprising both research activities and research-based consulting and teaching. Read more at

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DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 11,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.

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