Application deadline: 17th February 2022, 5 p.m. Irish Standard Time.
Funded PhD project (EU students and international)
Start date: April – May 2022
Expected interview date: late February, 2022
Academic supervisor: Dr. Ronald Halim
Background: Beer production generates large amounts of nutrient-rich waste products. The conventional way of handling waste is costly and environmentally unsustainable. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (ω-3 PUFAs) are essential for the immune system and widely used in dietary supplements for human and animals. Commercial ω-3 PUFA production, however, relies on fish oil derived from wild-caught fish and places an enormous strain on the ocean ecosystem. A group of microalgae known as Nannochloropsis are naturally enriched in ω-3 PUFAs. These microalgae can therefore be exploited to treat brewery waste products, assimilating nutrients from the waste into its own biomass, while producing ω-3 PUFAs. This will decrease the environmental impacts of both breweries and ω-3 PUFA producers and promote a circular bioeconomy.
AlgaeBrew, an H2020 project funded under the ERA-NET COFUND on Food Systems and Climate, aims to develop scalable processes that use Nannochloropsis to bioremediate brewery waste products into high-value ω-3 PUFAs for the feed industry. The project will be undertaken by seven universities, a beer producer and an animal feed producer across seven countries (Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Morocco, Romania, Turkey and the UK).
The specific objectives of the PhD studentship based at UCD are:
- To develop optimal strategies for the cultivation of Nannochloropsis on brewery waste to achieve maximum bioremediation of the waste products and biomass productivity.
- To develop a novel and low-cost biorefinery process for maximum PUFA recovery from Nannochloropsis biomass, while allowing the residual biomass to be repurposed for biofertilizer applications.
The PhD will be conducted under the supervision of Dr. Ronald Halim at UCD Biosystems and Food Engineering (https://people.ucd.ie/ronald.halim). The student will gain extensive training/experience in microalgae cultivation, biorefinery processing and bioanalytical techniques (e.g., microscopy, GCs) and have access to core technologies in genomics, electron microscopy, and flow cytometry at UCD Conway Institute.
The scholarship provides a yearly stipend of €18,000 and contribution to university fees for three years. The position is expected to start as soon as possible.
Stipend for each scholarship: €18,000 (tax-free) p.a. plus fee contribution of €7,000 p.a.
Project Duration: 3 years
The successful candidate will meet the following requirements:
- have a strong primary degree (First-class Honours or equivalent) and/or Master’s in Biotechnology, Chemical/Bioprocess Engineering, Food Technology, or related disciplines.
- be highly motivated, passionate about sustainability and committed to work in an international and multidisciplinary atmosphere
- have excellent communication, organisation and interpersonal skills as demonstrated by previous records in report writing and delivering presentations.
- Applicants whose first language is not English must show evidence of English proficiency to meet UCD entry requirements.
The following attributes are also desirable (but not mandatory):
- Previous research/lab experience in microalgae or related biotechnology/food areas.
- Previous track record of peer-reviewed publications in microalgae or related biotechnology/food areas.
- Previous experience in academic-industry partnerships
To apply, please email
1) a full CV (including education and employment backgrounds, contact details of 2 referees)
2) a cover letter detailing your motivation to apply to the project and how you meet the selection criteria for the project (maximum 2 pages)
3) copies of degree transcripts
by the deadline to [Email Address Removed] for the attention of Dr Ronald Halim.
Informal queries on the project can be made to Dr Ronald Halim ([Email Address Removed]).
Further details on the PhD position can be found at:
Further details on AlgaeBrew can be found at: