Two full-time Doctoral scholarship holders in the field of systemic sustainability analyses (MFA, LCA) in the circular economy with focus on resource recovery via EURAXESS

University of Antwerp

Antwerp, , BE

Department : Department of Bioengineering
Regime : Full-time

The University of Antwerp is a dynamic, forward-thinking, European university, and is globally ranked 18th in the “Top 50 Universities Under 50 years” (2020). It also appeared in the Reuters top 100 of most Europe’s most innovative universities (2019). Antwerp is a vibrant historical human-scale city in the heart of Europe, with a rich offer of cultural and social activities.

The Department of Bioscience Engineering in the Faculty of Science is looking for two full-time (100%) doctoral scholarship holders in the field of systemic sustainability analyses (MFA, LCA) in the circular economy with focus on resource recovery.

Within the Faculty of Science, the University created the Department of Bioscience Engineering in 2006, recognizing a strong societal demand for research and education on applied biological sciences such as cleantech and environmental technology. This department hosts the Research Group of Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology, founded in 2009, where prof. Siegfried Vlaeminck launched the Microbial Cleantech Team for a sustainable water cycle and food production chain in 2015. The team’s mission is to develop clean biotechnological solutions and to assess the ecological and economic sustainability of novel treatment and production pipelines. Key domains include technology for nitrogen cycling, nitrification, anammox, single-cell protein (microbial protein), nutrient recovery, and quantitative sustainability assessments including life cycle assessment (LCA), material/substance flow analysis (MFA/SFA) and techno–economic assessment (TEA). With a sustainable circular and bio-based economy as goal, the team also focusses on regenerative life support systems like MELiSSA, a necessity for long-term human space missions. The team is a core member of the Microbial Systems Technology centre of excellence, the Enviromics valorization consortium, the Blue_App innovation hub for sustainable chemistry and CAPTURE (centre for advanced process technology for urban resource recovery). The team is dynamic, international and embraces diversity.

The PhD projects aim to advance knowledge and methodologies related to the application of MFA and LCA at the interface between wastewater treatment/cycling and reuse of resources recovered from wastewater. The first topic is the application of mass balances for water, nitrogen, protein and phosphorus along the fertilizer-field-feed-fork value chain, and in urban/ industrial areas. The second focal area is the development novel modelling approaches to LCA and MFA. These may include but are not limited to combining MFA with consequential LCA, integrating actor choices in MFA or developing dynamic LCAs. The PhD candidates will be supervised by prof. Siegfried Vlaeminck and dr. Marc Spiller. In addition, one PhD student will be co-supervised by Prof. Patrick Meire and mentored by dr. Jan Cools.


  • You work actively on the preparation and defence of a PhD thesis in the field of Bioscience Engineering, with focus on MFA and LCA at the interface between wastewater treatment and reuse of constituents recovered from wastewater.
  • You publish scientific articles related to the research project.
  • You present your results at scientific fora in internationally and in Belgium.
  • You carry out a limited number of teaching and research support tasks for the Department of Bioscience Engineering.


  • You hold a Master degree in bioscience engineering, environmental engineering/science(s), environmental systems analysis, agricultural science or equivalent applied sciences, or you will have obtained it by the time you start working.
  • Experience in conducting LCA or MFAs is a plus.
  • Modelling experiences with SimaPro (or another LCA software), STAN (subSTance flow ANalysis), Brightway or Python are a plus.
  • You have a good process knowledge on water treatment technology and resource recovery, and a good understanding of the fertilizer-field-feed-fork value chain.
  • You are self-motivated and driven to develop your PhD topic in collaboration with your supervisors.
  • You have demonstrated excellent study results.
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies.
  • You are quality-oriented and conscientious.
  • You manage your time well, and meet deadlines with an outcome-focused and problem-solving mentality. You are proactive and independent in your work.
  • You have outstanding oral and written communication skills in English, and communicate clearly and honestly.
  • You have excellent social skills to collaborate in a constructive and respectful manner with colleagues and students.
  • You are willing to travel internationally for project meetings, conferences, workshops and/or research stays.

What we offer

  • We offer two doctoral scholarships for a period of two years. Following a positive evaluation and subject to funding, the scholarship can be renewed for another two years.
  • The planned start date is 1 October 2020 or as soon as possible after that date.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for contract research staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will do most of your work at Campus Groenenborger in a dynamic, stimulating and green working environment.
  • The opportunity to tutor BSc and MSc students working on your topic.
  • The opportunity to build a national and international network of industrial and scientific players.
  • The opportunity to develop new personal competences through professional training moments, courses and workshops.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp.
  • A unique chance to make a difference, and personally contribute to the development of sustainable biotechnological answers to urgent societal challenges.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform until 19 July 2020. Click on the ‘Apply’ button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: a motivation letter and your CV.
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure. Please make a note of the following date: 27 July 2020 (interview).
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to [email protected]. If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Dr. Marc Spiller ([email protected]).

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.





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