Phd position on modelling phage-host dynamics in bioreactors

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
October 22, 2022
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
Job Ref.:N/A
Phd position on modelling phage-host dynamics in bioreactors

(ref. BAP-2022-643)

Last modification : Monday, August 29, 2022

We are offering a full-time PhD position in the framework of a bacterial synthetic biology research project. We are looking for a motivated candidate with interest in bioprocess engineering, computational biology, and synthetic biology. You will work with Prof. Kristel Bernaerts (Division of Chemical and Biochemical Reactor Engineering and Safety, Dept. Chemical Engineering, KU Leuven) and will be guided in collaboration with Prof. Abram Aertsen (Lab of Food Technology, KU Leuven) and Prof. Steffen Waldherr (Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna). You will be part of a young team of researchers working on the project. KU Leuven offers a competitive and international working environment with access to the latest technologies and expertise. KU Leuven ranks among the top 100 universities in the world in major ranking tables. The university commits to creating an inclusive, respectful and safe environment for both working and living. Moreover, Leuven is a lively, historic university city with a large international and diverse student community and located only 30min from Brussels.


Bacteriophages are the viruses of bacteria and have the capacity to reproduce themselves within a bacterial population through a cycle of infection and bacterial lysis. In particular cases, phages can also integrate their genetic material within the host cell and thrive within the bacterial population awaiting favorable conditions for renewed lytic phage reproduction. The project aims to exploit a number of phage features to repurpose bacterial populations for controlled bioprocessing in a bioreactor.

The doctoral position in this vacancy focusses on the modelling of phage infection dynamics and bioprocess performance criteria in bioreactors. You will construct population balance models equipped with regulatory circuitry and metabolic pathways that compute optimal phage and circuitry tuning and bioprocessing conditions.

You will collaborate with other PhD students that design and engineer the phages. You will perform bioreactor experiments with the engineered phages to determine phage-bacteria dynamics and performance under various conditions. These data are particularly meant for identification of the model structure and parameters. Analyses will include macroscopic as well as microscopic measurements. Simulated optimal conditions for product maximization are validated in a bioreactor.

  • You hold a master degree in bioscience engineering, (bio)chemical engineering, bioprocess engineering, or a related field.

  • You have a good computational background, holding experience with modelling of biological processes (e.g., bioreactor processes, genetic circuits, population-balance modelling) and programming in Matlab or Python.

  • You enjoy performing experiments (e.g., bioreactors, microbiological analyses, microscopy), and can demonstrate some relevant experience.

  • You are a passionate researcher, with a critical mind and able to work independently.

  • Advanced command of both spoken and written English is mandatory.

  • Offer
  • We offer you a full-time PhD position. Detailed employment conditions will be shared upon contact.

  • We will support you in all aspects in order to successfully obtain a PhD degree and will provided scientific and practical lab training.

  • You will be given opportunities to participate at national and international meetings and establish your own network.

  • We offer a competitive salary (https: // www. information#working-conditions).

  • Interested?

    For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Kristel Bernaerts, mail:

    You should upload a detailed Curriculum Vitae and transcript of courses together with a concise letter of motivation in the online application portal.

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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