Are you interested in contributing to the protein transition towards plant-based foods and working on the rational design of safe plant-based fermented foods?

There is a great opportunity to do this at NIZO in the EU-funded FAIROMics PhD network, in

which 15 PhD candidates will develop their skills at the interface of artificial intelligence, life sciences life, humanities and social sciences.

The goal of this interdisciplinary research program (see is to enable FAIRification of omics data and database interoperability, and to develop knowledge graphs for data-driven decision making for the rational design of microbial communities. These will be employed to generate desirable properties of plant-based fermented foods in the context of open science and its regulations.

We are looking for a PhD Candidate (DC2)who will join our team for a period of three years.


The main objective of the research project at NIZO is to develop rational design strategies for the use of mixed bacterial cultures to ferment plant protein-based ingredients with desirable outcomes.

Job description

Your responsibilities:

  • You will be performing research through design, execution and analysis of laboratory experiments;
  • You will be responsible for data recording, processing and analysis;
  • You will take the lead to report the data in scientific publications that form the basis of a PhD thesis;
  • You will take the lead in converting the scientific results into models;
  • More specifically, you will set-up and execute plant-based fermentations to verify the performance of mixed cultures to ferment plant-protein based ingredients regarding formation of favourable flavour compounds, removal of unwanted chemical contaminants (e.g. off-flavours, mycotoxins). Moreover, acid formation and preservation effect (suppressing growth of spoilers and pathogens) will be verified. You will work with existing large datasets with phenotypic data of lactic acid bacteria and their genomes. Linking of functional properties of strains and genomic traits with fermentation outcomes will support the design of novel fermented foods.

The position is based at NIZO and part of the international FAIROmics network, with team members based in 10 European countries. The degree awarding institutions will be Wageningen University (WUR in The Netherlands; close to NIZO) and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA in Greece; The Doctoral Candidate will be based at NIZO, with an eight month secondment at the NKUA and in addition maximally three months at the University of Reading (UK). This is a unique chance to work in a multidisciplinary multinational team on an innovative project.

Your profile:

  • Master’s degree in Food Microbiology / Molecular Microbiology / Analytical Chemistry / Biotechnology / Biochemistry / Bioinformatics with a demonstrable affinity for microbiology and data science.
  • Knowledge of and experience in working in a microbiological or biochemical laboratory.
  • Affinity with complex data analysis and interpretation.
  • Excellent planning and analytical skills.
  • Open collaborative communication style with attention to the team.
  • Excellent writing and presentation skills.
  • Quality-driven.
  • Proactive attitude with a strong sense of responsibility.
  • Fluent spoken and written communication in English.

Working at NIZO:

NIZO is a leading company in contract research for better food and health with one of the most advanced R&D centres in the world. NIZO has state-of-the-art research facilities and laboratories, highly skilled experts and comprehensive expertise on bacteria, proteins and processing. NIZO’s focus is on the development and application of innovations for the global food industry and related markets. This includes research, development and production of plant-based alternative foods. With 75 years’ experience with starter cultures and food safety and quality control and with up-to-date new technologies including genomics approaches, NIZO brings the latest food technologies to life. NIZO is continuously looking for new ways of improving food products, and at the same time quality of life.

Our offer:

  • A dynamic, inspiring and creative environment with state-of-the-art facilities, where you can develop your personal skills;
  • Become part of a well-established and internationally recognized organization;
  • An enthusiastic team of professionals to co-operate with;
  • A comprehensive, interactive and international training programme covering the broader aspects and interface between biology, modelling, optimisation, data science, artificial intelligence, consumer science and law;
  • An attractive compensation package in accordance with the MSCA-DN programme regulations for Doctoral Candidates. Exact salary will be confirmed upon and will be based on a Living Allowance of 3400€/month (correction factor to be applied per country) + mobility allowance of 600€/month. Additionally, researchers may also qualify for a family allowance of 660€/month depending on family situation. Taxation and social (including pension) contribution deductions based on national and company regulations will apply.
  • Duration of recruitment: 36 months.

Candidates need to fully comply with the following three eligibility criteria:

  • The applicant must not have been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • The applicant must not have resided or carried out main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months* in the three years immediately prior to the date of selection in the same appointing international organisation. (*short stays such as holidays, compulsory national services such as mandatory military service and procedures for obtaining refugee status under the General Convention).
  • Applicants must demonstrate fluent reading, writing and speaking abilities in English.

More information and application

If you are interested in NIZO’s DC2 position at, please apply via through the link on the FAIROmics website.

Your application should be submitted by 15 May 2024 23:59 – Europe/Brussels. For more information contact Dr. Marjon Wells‑Bennik (