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GOA PhD position for a Molecular plant physiologist


About This PhD Project

Project Description

The Department of Biology of the University of Antwerp is seeking to fill 1 full-time (100%) PhD position within in a large scale multidisciplinary project, bringing together plant ecology, plant physiology, interaction of plants with soil microorganisms, transcriptome analysis, metabolomics and bio-informatics. More specifically, the work in this PhD will be predominantly plant physiological and biochemical analyses and transcriptome analysis.

The REGIME SHIFT project
Climate change is making weather patterns in mid-latitude regions, such as Western Europe, more persistent. This leads to longer droughts, but also prolonged periods with excessive rain. No comprehensive study has hitherto investigated the ecological consequences of such changes in the precipitation regime. REGIME SHIFT explores these potential impacts of shifts in the frequency of dry/wet cycles at multiple, connected levels of biological organization. It does so in a new, large-scale platform at UAntwerp in which changes in precipitation and associated temperature changes can be experimentally induced in species-rich grassland ecosystems. The project includes a wide array of research domains, from plants to soil organisms such as bacteria and fungi, and from cellular metabolism and genetic regulation, studied by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and bio-informatics to the study of ecosystem processes. In this interdisciplinary framework, a total of four PhD students will work together. The current available position focusses on the molecular and physiological analyses of the plant responses to the altered weather patterns.

Candidates must have interest in one or more of the following research domains:
• Effect of climate change in plants
• Plant growth and physiology
• Plant metabolism (metabolomics)
• Transcriptome analysis and bio-informatics

The PhD involves various topics and techniques, including;
• Growth analysis (including microscopy)
• Transcriptome analysis (NGS)
• Analytical determination of metabolites (HPLC, MS, GC)
• Determination of enzyme activity
• Analysis of metabolic pathways

The complementary expertise brought together in the project should yield both significantly increased understanding of key processes as well as new avenues to climate change impact mitigation. During the selection process, the needs of the project will be matched with the profiles and interests of suitable candidates.

The project is supervised by five P.I.’s:
Prof. Ivan Nijs (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/ivan-nijs)
Prof. Erik Verbruggen (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/erik-verbruggen)
Prof. Han Asard (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/han-asard)
Prof. Gerrit Beemster (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/gerrit-beemster)
Prof. Kris Laukens (https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/kris-laukens)


Job description
• You prepare a doctoral thesis and collaborate closely with other researchers in the REGIME SHIFT project.
• You publish scientific articles related to the research project of the assignment.
• You take up limited teaching and research support duties in the Faculty of Sciences.

Profile and requirements
• You hold a master degree in Biology, Bio-engineer or Biochemistry, consistent with the position for which you apply.
• You can demonstrate outstanding academic results.
• You have excellent passive and active English language skills.
• Your academic qualities comply with the university’s policies.
• You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative.

We offer
• A doctoral scholarship for a period of four years.
• A start date to be negotiated with the promotor.
• A gross monthly grant ranging from € 2.189,88 - € 2.513,13 (c. € 1900 – 2100 net).
• Reimbursement of public transport or a bicycle allowance.
• A dynamic and stimulating work environment.

How to apply?
• Applications, including CV, letter of motivation and references for recommendations, should be submitted to Han Asard (), with “Regime Shift project” in subject line and attached documents in pdf.
• The position remains open until filled.
• A pre-selection will be made based on the submitted documents.
• Interviews of preselected candidates by the selection committee, will take place on a date and time to be determined.
• For additional information, contact Prof. Han Asard ().


The University of Antwerp is a family-friendly organization, with a focus on equal opportunities and diversity. Our HR-policy for researchers was awarded by the European Commission with the quality label ’HR Excellence in research’.

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