Project “Microelectronics for electromicrobiology”: Opportunity for PhD student position within collaborative GOA project


Background and experience

  • PhD student: We are searching for a motivated student with existing training and relevant degree in bio-engineering, chemical engineering, biotechnology, microbiology or relevant.      

Scientific knowledge and skills

  • Ability to develop and test laboratory scale processes with a focus on bioreactor operation with pure and mixed populations
  • Ability to perform in-depth and critical data analysis.
  • Potential to contribute to research program development.

Personal knowledge and skills

  • A strong interest in inter/multi-disciplinary applied science, particularly around the biological sciences
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively with team members from different backgrounds and with different tasks.
  • Good oral and written communication skills in English are strictly required (C1 level).
  • Outcome focused, hands-on mentality.
  • Willingness to travel internationally.


Microorganisms can exchange electrons with their outside environment to complement their metabolism.  This allows not only for microorganisms to respire minerals in the natural environment, it also enables them to form biofilms on electrodes and corrode metals. In recent years, the major findings on this process have led to a new research field, electromicrobiology, with applications in bioproduction, bioremediation, biosensing and waste treatment. A key impediment to the study of these microorganisms is the complexity of building test reactors and operating them with potentiostats. Within a collaboration between Ghent University and KULeuven high throughput arrays were developed, consisting of 128 independent potentiostat channels on one chip coupled to another chip containing 128 electrode pairs that can be printed to different shapes and sizes. These chips were recently completed and now need to start serving their purpose: investigating microbial hypotheses. In this PhD, we will focus on several key aspects of this. First, we will develop cultivating mechanisms amenable to such small scale electrodes, and characterize biofilms in function of a wide variety of operating conditions. This potentially includes the development of bacterial printing techniques. We will vary electrode materials and create individual electrode wells to move to 128 fully independent experiments. With these we can test several microbial hypotheses such as e.g. on energy management by bacteria.

For this PhD we are looking for a highly motivated student with an interest and affinity for both microbiology and electrochemistry, and at least a basic interest in electronics. The student needs to be open to interdisciplinary collaboration between the two research teams as well as with other partners that may enter into the project.

Type of employment

  • Doctoral researcher: Full time, fixed term appointment for 4 years, biyearly renewable after positive evaluation.
  • A competitive salary including benefits is offered
  • Ghent University is an equal opportunity employer.


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. In recent years a focus on electrochemical processes has emerged, often in conjunction with microbial post-processing. It is one of the top performing centres worldwide in its field and links excellent basic science with application, leading to a high level of peer reviewed outputs besides commercial outcomes including 7 spin-off companies over time. Reactor and process developments go from millilitre scale to full scale industrial.


Submission and closing date

Applications must be sent via email to as pdf or word documents, with in the subject line mentioning “GOAPhD”. Final closing date is December 15th 2019 (23h59), but applications will be regularly reviewed prior to the deadline hence early application is recommended.

Application files

  1. Covering Letter. The covering 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 (full list as attachment with three most significant marked with an asterisk, also indicating impact factors and Quartiles according to Web of Science), 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 organisational 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.
  1. 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, behaviour 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

Please contact Professor Korneel Rabaey (