PhD Grant: ValgOrize - Valorisation of algae for a better taste

This PhD grant is situated within the project ValgOrize ‘sustainable production of algae and assessment of taste parameters for valorization in food and feed applications’. ValgOrize is a multi-disciplinary Interreg 2 Seas project with 12 partners (and 11 observer partners) that will start in January 2019. It offers the selected PhD candidate the chance to become an expert in different aspects of algae valorization - from cultivation of different macro and microalgae to the analytical assessment of different taste parameters, taking into account the regulatory aspects of food safety and food quality.

Job Description

To maintain current consumption trends, the world will have to produce up to 70% more food by 2050. Current global algae biomass production is 3 Mtonne, of which only 0,1 tonne is produced in the EU. Many EU countries allow mild harvesting of seaweed, which however is an unsustainable practice. Imports of (Asian) algae do not meet EU food safety standards. Within this project the key challenge is ‘Controlled sustainable production and processing of micro- and macro-algae biomass with a well-defined composition, leading to high quality, stable and safe food with a good overall palatability concerning taste, aroma, colour and texture’.

As a Phd researcher, your tasks within this project involve:

  • To optimize the cultivation of different algae species for biomass on a small scale. Produced biomass will be further used for analytical assessments. The work involves cultivation of several micro- and macro-algae of which taste profiles will be assessed. Abiotic conditions will be steered during algae growth so as to create the optimal palatability.. Based on the small scale cultivation, important parameters will be assesed for further upscaling and a quantified taste (palatability) assessment will be performed through an expert taste panel;
  • To develop analytical methods for the assessment of taste parameters. Several cellular components are important for different aspects of the taste profile: amino acids for taste, pigments for food colour, volatile compounds for aroma, etc. The developed analytical methods will allow to ‘quantify’ the different taste parameters;
  • To contribute to the regulatory processes concerning food safety and quality of the produced algae and algae biomass.

Candidate Profile

  • You recently obtained a degree of Master of Science, Master of Applied Sciences or similar level;
  • You are eager to fulfill the requirements of a PhD fellowship as mentioned in the general terms for a PhD within ILVO

Candidate Skills

  • Knowledge and interest in marine biotech and food science;
  • Interest in applied research for food quality and food safety;
  • Knowledge of molecular (algae species) and analytical (palatability) methods;
  • Knowledge of different aspects of (algae) growth/processing techniques is a plus;
  • Good communication skills, including good written and verbal knowledge of the English language;
  • Able to work independently;
  • Working with a creative, critical and analytical mindset;
  • Willing to apply for extra funding.

Our Offer

  • A PhD grant at ILVO (first 2 years 2240.55€net - last 2 years 2323.66€net).
  • A position situated within the international Interreg project ValgOrize, offering a broad network and collaboration with several partners
  • Work within an international challenging project in the sustainable food science area, which is indicated by EU as one of the promising growth sectors
  • A multi-disciplinary project dealing with several aspects of the valorization chain in the food sector, from source to market
  • Place of activity: ILVO-Ostend, although part of the work will also be performed in ILVO-Melle.

How to apply?

All applications must be sent by email to Prof. dr. ir. Bart Sonck, Head of Animal Sciences Unit ( no later than Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 23:59 (CET).

The subject of your mail should contain; ‘Application PhD grant ValgOrize’.

The following documents should be attached as one file:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • A transcript of the required degree
  • An overview of your study results
  • The name and contact data of a reference person

Selection procedure

  • Screening of CVs: December 18th, 2018.
  • Selection interviews: January 3th and/or 4th, 2019
  • Foreseen start of the PhD grant: February 1th, 2019

After screening of CVs you will be informed by phone or mail by December 19th, 2018. Pre-selected candidates will be invited for an interview. A case study will then be provided, to be prepared and presented during the interview. Please be sure to provide a phone number and email address where you can be reached during the day, and already block the given dates in your agenda.

More information

For more information on the content of this PhD grant and the ValgOrize project you may contact:
Dr. Johan Robbens, project coordinator, Tel. 059/569 850 -