KU Leuven

Professor in Food Microbiology: Applications of microbes in the food chain

2024-09-16 (Europe/Brussels)
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KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

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In the Science, Engineering and Technology Group of KU Leuven, there is a full-time academic vacancy in the area of Food Microbiology in Leuven (campus Arenberg). We are looking for internationally oriented candidates with an excellent research record and with educational competence within the field of food microbiology. The new colleague will be hosted in the Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems (M²S), Centre of Food and Microbial Technology (CFMT), and in the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering (FBSE). CFMT is active on four campuses and has about 145 collaborators in seven research groups, led by 13 professors. Research at CFMT focuses on raw materials and their constituents, microorganisms and processes that are relevant to various bio-industries and to the food industry in particular. The different groups generate and disseminate scientific knowledge and apply it in food process innovations with a focus on chemical and microbiological safety, organoleptic properties, shelf life, and nutritional and health aspects. The research activities span the continuum from raw materials over production of foods and ingredients to consumption and digestion and adopt a multidisciplinary and integrated approach at molecular scale, mesoscale and macroscopic scale. CFMT research groups have a solid, up-to-date research infrastructure, an extensive national and international network, both in the academic and industrial world, a stable supply of highly talented MSc. students and represent a supportive work environment. FBSE organises Dutch and English language study programmes at bachelor, master, honours, postgraduate and PhD-level in Bioscience Engineering at large and in Food Science in particular. To date, about 2300 students are enrolled in the faculty’s programmes.
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Microorganisms are omnipresent throughout the food production chain and have a significant impact on food safety and quality. Some cause food deterioration or foodborne illness and need to be controlled by proper design of foods and food production processes. Others are used for the production of a wide range of food ingredients and flavorful, nutritious, and safe fermented foods. There is an urgent need to transform food production to curb its large climate change footprint and its role in the epidemic of noncommunicable diet-related diseases, and microbes have a large untapped potential to address this dual challenge. 

We welcome applications from candidates who have the potential to set up an innovative and internationally oriented research program aimed at elucidating the role and directing the use of microbes in the food chain. Possible uses include the production of fermented foods, microbes as foods, food enzymes and food ingredients, the bioconversion of side streams into valuable foods or food ingredients, the creation of flavor and other quality attributes, nutrient enhancement and gut health, and the biocontrol of pathogens and spoilage organisms. Research programs integrating a fundamental and an applied component are particularly encouraged. As such, the programs will address scientific questions related to the microbial ecology of the food production chain and the genetic, physiological and metabolic properties of specific members of food microbial ecosystems, and it will envisage the engineering of microorganisms for improved or novel functional properties and the analysis of these properties in model or real food systems.

Additionally, we expect the following from successful candidates:

• You strengthen the existing research lines and provide additional expertise. Research must be complementary to existing expertise, yet at the same time tie in with the ongoing research at CFMT.

• You strive for excellence in research, publish at the domain-specific highest scientific level, while also considering opportunities for research valorisation in collaboration with industry.

• You set up collaborations with colleagues of CFMT, the Department M²S and in the national and international scientific community. 

• You acquire competitive research funding (regional, national and European) for fundamental and applied research.

• You supervise PhD-projects of an international level.


You ensure high-quality education within the area of food science and technology, in particular in the fields of food microbiology, microbial fermentation and/or food safety and quality systems. You also contribute to the pedagogic project of the faculty/university through the supervision of master theses and as a promoter of PhD students. Your teaching task is determined in consultation and based on your specific profile. The scope of this is limited in the first years of your appointment. In your further career, the faculty safeguards the proper balance between research and teaching time. You develop your teaching in accordance with KU Leuven’s vision on activating and researched-based education and make use of the possibilities for the educationalist professionalization offered by the faculty and the university.


You are prepared to provide services to the scientific community and to society and to the internal functioning of the department, the faculty and KU Leuven. You are ready to take up an active role in councils, educational committees, working groups of the university, and in particular of the divisions, departments and faculties you will belong to.


• You have a MSc. in Microbiology, Food Science, Bioscience Engineering or a related field (or an equivalent diploma) and a PhD in the area of food microbiology or microbial fermentation

• You have a strong background in the physiology and metabolism, ecology and/or genetics of food-related bacteria, and expertise with state-of-the-art techniques used in these fields and with genetically modifying microorganisms.

• You have a strong scientific track record in the field, as proven by publications in international leading journals.

• You possess the capacity to lead a research team and attract research funding.

• Demonstrated scientific mobility is considered a strong asset.

• You have demonstrable qualities related to academic education. Teaching experience is an advantage.

• You possess organisational skills and have a cooperative attitude. You also possess leadership capacities within a university context.  

• Good command of English is required. KU Leuven provides courses in academic English.

The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch. If you do not master Dutch (or do not master it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable you to take active part in meetings within 5 years of the start of your employment.

Before teaching courses in Dutch or English, you will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch, respectively English, to the required standard.


We offer full-time employment in an intellectually challenging environment. KU Leuven is a research-intensive, internationally-oriented university that carries out both fundamental and applied scientific research. Our university is highly inter- and multi-disciplinarily focused and strives for international excellence. In this regard, we actively work together with research partners in Belgium and abroad, and provide our students with an academic education that is based on high-quality scientific research. Depending on your record and qualifications, you will be appointed to or tenured in one of the grades of the senior academic staff: assistant professor, associate professor, professor or full professor. In principle, junior researchers are appointed as assistant professor on the tenure track for a period of 5 years; after this period and a positive evaluation, they are permanently appointed (or tenured) as an associate professor. You will work in Leuven, a historical, dynamic and lively city located in the heart of Belgium, at 25 kilometers from Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and less than two hours by train from Paris, London and Amsterdam. KU Leuven is well set to welcome foreign professors and their family, and provides practical support with regard to immigration and administration, housing, childcare, learning Dutch, partner career coaching, … To facilitate scientific onboarding and accelerate research in the first phase a PhD fellowship for 4 years will be provided by the hosting department, and a starting grant of 110.000 euro is offered to new professors without substantial other funding, appointed for at least 50%.

More information



For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Chris Michiels, tel.: +32 16 32 15 78, mail: chris.michiels@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. ir. Ann Van Loey, tel.: +32 16 32 15 67, mail: ann.vanloey@kuleuven.be. For problems with online applying, please contact solliciteren@kuleuven.be.

You can submit your application through our online application system. If you have problems submitting your application online, please contact solliciteren@kuleuven.be.

Add to your application the following documents (more information is available on the KU Leuven job site):

-your biosketch in which you indicate your added value as an academic for research, education and service to society of your past career and of your future activities (maximum 2 pages);

-a file on your five most important publications or realizations;

-an extensive curriculum vitae including a full publication list;

-your research plan with a focus on the development of your research line and research team in relation to the colleague-researchers of the entity of employment (maximum 5 pages);

-your vision on academic education and its organization (maximum 2 pages);

-your contribution to society by outreach and public communication on science and technology, internal representation in boards and councils and service activities directly in relation to your developed expertise (maximum 1 page);

-your vision on leadership (maximum 1 page).

KU Leuven places great importance on research integrity and ethical conduct and will therefore ask you to sign an integrity statement upon appointment.

KU Leuven is committed to creating a diverse environment and is, therefore, an equal-opportunity employer. It explicitly encourages candidates from groups that are currently underrepresented at the university to submit their applications.

KU Leuven strives for an inclusive, respectful and socially safe environment. We embrace diversity among individuals and groups as an asset. Open dialogue and differences in perspective are essential for an ambitious research and educational environment. In our commitment to equal opportunity, we recognize the consequences of historical inequalities. We do not accept any form of discrimination based on, but not limited to, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnic or national background, skin colour, religious and philosophical diversity, neurodivergence, employment disability, health, or socioeconomic status. For questions about accessibility or support offered, we are happy to assist you at this email address.

Job details

Professor in Food Microbiology: Applications of microbes in the food chain
Oude Markt 13 Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline
2024-09-16 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2024-09-16 23:59 (CET)
Job type
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