PhD position Environmental Biotechnology

Updated: 1 day ago
Deadline: 22 Jul 2024

Exploring the ecophysiology of microorganisms performing biological phosphorus removal.

Challenge: Understand the microbial diversity and metabolic versatility of microorganisms performing biological phosphorus removal.

Change: Evaluate bioreactor operations using cutting-edge omics techniques

Impact: Improve phosphorus removal and recovery in wastewater treatment processes

The PhD project aims to explore the microbial ecology for biological phosphorus removal in aerobic granular sludge and understand the metabolic versatility of the dominant EBPR community members. The focus of your research will be to resolve the function of dominant community members, explore how process control parameters affects these microbial community members and evaluate their metabolic interactions. You will run bioreactors to enrich for the EBPR community under different substrate conditions in dynamic environments, apply cutting-edge omics techniques, including metagenomics, metaproteomics and metabolomics.

As a PhD in the Biotechnology section, you will be joining an active, inclusive, and inspiring team exploring wastewater treatment processes from diverse perspectives. For the PhD duration, you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School which provides a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing transferable, discipline-related and research skills. There is a strong emphasis to drive the project in the direction of your scientific curiosity and skill development. You will be co-supervised by Asst. Prof. Samarpita Roy and Prof. Mark van Loosdrecht.   

Microorganisms responsible for biological phosphorus removal are abundant in wastewater treatment. Currently, our understanding of EBPR is limited to Ca. Accumulibacter - a globally dominant microorganism that utilises volatile fatty acids as carbon substrate. Previous investigations have identified a diverse microbial community responsible for biological phosphorus removal in full-scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). While the community members might be identified, their metabolic strategy for biological phosphorus removal remains unknown. It is crucial to explore the EBPR community from perspectives of microbiology, process performance and resource recovery.

The ideal candidate will have the following skills:

  • MSc in Environmental/Chemical Engineering, Microbiology or Bioinformatics
  • Demonstrable background and strong interest in biological processes and biotechnologies
  • Laboratory experience proven by lab courses, internships or previous work experience.
  • Scientific attitude and analytical skills combined with a hands-on mentality.
  • Independent, self-motivated, curiosity-driven, open to communicate and collaborate with peers and partners.
  • Excellent spoken and written English

and hopefully also some the following 'Nice-to-haves' skills:

  • Experience in design and/or operation of lab-scale bio-reactors proven by previous practical or research projects
  • Experience in metagenomics, including wet-lab and bioinformatic pipelines
  • Linux, R, Python programming skills

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customizable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organize events to expand your (social) network.

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.
Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty of Applied Sciences
With more than 1,000 employees, including 135 pioneering principal investigators, as well as a population of about 3,400 passionate students, the Faculty of Applied Sciences is an inspiring scientific ecosystem. Focusing on key enabling technologies, such as quantum- and nanotechnology, photonics, biotechnology, synthetic biology and materials for energy storage and conversion, our faculty aims to provide solutions to important problems of the 21st century. To that end, we train students in broad Bachelor's and specialist Master's programmes with a strong research component. Our scientists conduct ground-breaking fundamental and applied research in the fields of Life and Health Science & Technology, Nanoscience, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Science & Technology, and Engineering Physics. We are also training the next generation of high school teachers and science communicators.

The Department of Biotechnology engages in internationally-leading education programmes and offers a stimulating research environment in the biosciences that combines fundamental science, engineering, and design, all directed towards biotechnological process innovations. The Department covers the areas of biocatalysis, bioprocess engineering, environmental biotechnology, industrial microbiology, and biotechnology and society. The Department harbours excellent laboratory facilities and infrastructure.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Samarpita Roy ([email protected]) or Mark van Loosdrecht ([email protected]).

If you are interested in this vacancy please submit your application before 22 July 2024 via the application button and upload your:

- Detailed CV (2 pages maximum).

- Contact details of 2 references.

- A motivation letter that briefly answers the questions: Why I am applying? Why I believe I am a good fit to this position? What I want to have achieved at the end of the 4-years contract? How I expect PhD studies will benefit me in my future? (1 page maximum).

We encourage you to apply as soon as possible. First interviews with candidates possibly start before the application deadline. Pre-selected candidates will be called for an on-line or in-person interview.

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