PhD Positions in Plant Protein Chemistry and Functionality for Food

Catholic University of Leuven


The Laboratory of Food Chemistry and Biochemistry (LFCB) at KU Leuven has a long-standing tradition of cereal chemistry research. Over the years, our focus has expanded towards investigating other food constituents as well. A particular focus point has been to investigate structure-function, with an emphasis on techno-functionality, relationships of these food constituents. This allows steering food production processes towards a higher end product quality. With regard to food proteins, LFCB has considerable expertise regarding the chemistry and functionality of cereal proteins, but also of egg proteins and various plant protein sources.


Proteins provide structure to many food products (gels, emulsions, foams, fibrillary structures). Both animal and plant based proteins are widely consumed in Western diets. However, in recent years, an increasing group of consumers prefers a predominantly plant-based diet, which originates from animal welfare and environmental concerns related to the production of animal protein. Unfortunately, the functionality of many plant proteins in a range of food systems is inferior to that of animal proteins. Studies to (i) better understand and (ii) improve the functional properties of plant-based proteins are therefore much needed. This research is a particular interest of Professor Arno Wouters, promotor of the available positions.

In this context, two positions are available:

  • A position dealing with the use of water-soluble cereal proteins for the stabilization of food foams. Mechanisms of foam and interfacial stabilization will be investigated. In this regard, the interaction between proteins and other soluble cereal constituents (lipids, non-starch polysaccharides) is an important aspect.
  •  A position dealing with understanding structure formation and protein functionality during the production of meat alternatives based on locally cultivated (in Flanders) soy by means of high moisture extrusion. This research is part of a larger c-SBO (Strategic Basic Research) project TexProSoy, which is a collaboration with ILVO (Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food). This implies close interaction with researchers at ILVO.


  • Master's degree in bioscience engineering,chemistry, biomedical sciences or civil engineering (with sufficient chemistry education) with distinction
  • Strong motivation for scientific research and all associated aspects (reporting, interaction with other researchers, taking part in education of MSc students,…) is a must
  • Adequate knowledge of English for scientific discussions and writing
  • Strong interest in food science
  • Previous experience with protein chemistry and functionality will be a plus


We offer two full-time, fully funded PhD positions each for one year, starting on September 1st 2020 and renewable until four years, subject to meeting the requirements and deadlines set out by the supervisors and the Arenberg Doctoral School. You will be working in a dynamic research group, and you will be supported in achieving the set goals by fellow PhD students, postdocs and the promotor. LFCB disposes over a wide range of analytical techniques in the field of food science and can rely on an broad professional network within and outside of the University, facilitating possible collaborations. We offer the opportunity to obtain a PhD degree from KU Leuven, one of Europe’s leading Universities.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Arno Wouters, tel.: +32 16 37 20 35, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than July 10, 2020 via the
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
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: July 10, 2020
  • Tags: Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen

In your application, please refer to


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