PhD Fellowships in Food Microbiology

University of Copenhagen


PhD fellowships in Food Microbiology

PhD Project in Bacillus-based fermentations for improved nutritional value, structure and flavor of plant based food matrices

Department of Food Science, Section for Food Microbiology and Fermentation invites applicants for 2 PhD fellowships in Bacillus-based fermentations for improved nutritional value, structure and flavor of plant based food matrices. The projects are part of the research project “PROFERMENT: Solid-state fermentations for protein transformations and palatability of plant-based foods”, which is financed by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Start date is (expected to be) 15 January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project

The overall aim of PROFERMENT is to gain the fundamental knowledge that is needed for developing scalable whole-matrix plant fermentation approaches to transform plant-based materials into nutritious, savoury foods. PROFERMENT will exploit bacteria (Bacillus spp.) and moulds to enhance protein bioavailability and quality as well as palatability and textural properties of plant foods.

The two advertised PhD-positions will focus on different aspects of the use of Bacillus spp. for improving nutritional value, structure and flavor of plant based food matrices. The two projects are closely linked, but one project will primarily focus on enhancing protein bioavailability and production of essential amino acids by Bacillus activity, while the other project will focus on production of flavor precursors as well as food matrix transformations. Both PhD-projects will contain a strong wet-lab component, but the PhD-students are also expected to obtain strong bioinformatics skills during the project. The PhD-students will work closely together with several other PhDs and Post Docs also working on the project.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for candidates within the field(s) of biology, food science, biotechnology or similar with good grades and English skills. Applicants can have a background from e.g. food microbiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, physiology and genetics of Bacillus spp., plant based foods and/or solid stage food/feed fermentations.

Our group and research- and what do we offer?

The Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, is recognized for excellence in food research, food science education, and industry collaboration. It covers all disciplines of food science from raw materials to processing and consumption, and is organized in four sections, one of which is the section for “Food Microbiology and Fermentation”, where the positions are placed. The use of microbes for enhancing the nutritional quality, flavor and safety of food via fermentation is a primary focus point for the section. Further information about the Department can be found at

We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories with access to the infrastructure needed to carry out the projects.

Principal supervisors are Professor Lene Jespersen (, +45 29 35 47 33), that will act as principal supervisor of the PhD-student focusing on structure and flavor precursor formation, and Professor Dennis S. Nielsen (, +45 51 33 03 62) that will act as principal supervisor of the PhD-student focusing on protein bioavailability and essential amino acid production.

You can undertake the PhD programme as a three year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme), if you already have an education equivalent to a relevant Danish master’s degree.

Qualifications needed for the regular programme
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. biology, food science and biotechnology. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

Terms of employment in the regular programme
Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The terms of employment and salary are in accordance to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Responsibilities and tasks in the PhD program

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision 
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, preferably abroad
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

We are looking for the following qualifications:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other relevant professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in food microbiology, fermentation and/or bioinformatics
  • Good language skills (especially English)


Application and Assessment Procedure

 Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include: 

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page) (if you are only interested in one of the two advertised positions you can state it here – but we also very much welcome applicants interested in both positions)
  2. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  4. Publication list (if possible)
  5. Reference letters (if available)

Application deadline: The deadline for applications is 3 December 2021, 23:59 GMT + 1

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at

Interviews with selected candidates are expected to be held in week 50 and 51.


For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisors.

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 03-12-2021
Employment start: 15-01-2022
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: FOOD

In your application, please refer to


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