University of Antwerp

PhD Analytical Chemistry and Toxicology Investigation of the bioavailability of legacy and emerging PFAS in the terrestrial food chain along a PFAS pollution gradient

2023-07-31 (Europe/Brussels)
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The University of Antwerp is a dynamic, forward-thinking, European university. We offer an innovative academic education to more than 20,000 students, conduct pioneering scientific research, and play an important service-providing role in society. We are one of the largest, most international, and most innovative employers in the region. With more than 6000 employees from 100 different countries, we are helping to build tomorrow's world every day. Through top scientific research, we push back boundaries and set a course for the future – a future that you can help to shape. 

The Toxicological Centre (TC) – Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences and ECOSPHERE – Faculty of Science are looking for a full-time PhD student for investigating the bioavailability of legacy and emerging PFAS in the terrestrial food chain along a PFAS pollution gradient.

The TC has a longstanding experience, analytical skills and instrumental capabilities related to environmental and human biomonitoring and assessment of environmental and human toxicology, with emphasis on legacy and emerging contaminants (including PFAS, phthalates and flame retardants). The ECOSPHERE research group aims to study both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that are continuously challenged by natural and anthropogenic stressors. Its research focuses on acquiring fundamental and applied knowledge at different levels of structural and functional organization to underpin environmental management decisions.

The PhD student will investigate the transfer of legacy and emerging PFAS in the terrestrial food chain in the frame of the BOF-IMPULS project “Bioavailability and toxicity of legacy and emerging per- and polyfluoralkylated substances (PFAS) in a terrestrial food chain: effects at different levels of biological organisation (BIOTOX-Terra)”.


  • You will work actively on the preparation and defense of a PhD thesis in the field of analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry and toxicology under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Adrian Covaci (TC) and Prof. Dr. Lieven Bervoets (ECOSPHERE).
  • You will identify and characterize legacy and emerging PFAS using both suspect screening and target analysis in a terrestrial food chain (soil, plants, invertebrates, birds) in PFAS-contaminated areas at different distances from a fluorochemical factory in Belgium.
  • You will work together with other predoctoral- and postdoctoral researchers involved in analytical techniques (at TC and ECOSPHERE) and closely collaborate with the other project partners at the BECO and IMPRES research groups of the University of Antwerp.
  • The project will offer training (e.g. in analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, environmental toxicology), participation to congresses and international collaborations.
  • You prepare a doctoral thesis in the field of analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry and toxicology.
  • You publish scientific articles related to the research project of the assignment.
  • You present your work at national and international workshops and conferences.


  • You must hold an Academic Master recognized by the EU in one of the following disciplines: chemistry, biochemistry, environmental sciences, biology, pharmaceutical sciences or related fields, or you will have obtained it by the time you start work.
  • Students in the final year of their degree can also apply.
  • Outstanding academic study performances according to ECST grading scale and recognized by the EU.
  • Expertise or knowledge in analytical chemistry, in particular in separation sciences and mass spectrometry, statistics, bioinformatics.
  • Strong interest in basic research, analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, and biology.
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies.
  • You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity, and cooperation.
  • Flexibility and team spirit in an international research environment.
  • Excellent oral and written English communication skills.
  • Foreign candidates are encouraged to apply.

What we offer

  • We offer a doctoral scholarship for a period of two years. Following a positive evaluation, the scholarship can be renewed for another two years.
  • The planned start date is 1 October 2023.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will receive ecocheques, internet connectivity allowance, and a bicycle allowance or a full reimbursement of public transport costs for commuting.
  • You will do most of your work at Campus Drie Eiken in a dynamic and stimulating international working environment.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including 31 July 2023 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: a strong motivation letter, a detailed academic CV, and two recommendation letters or contact information of two scientific references.
  • The selection committee will review all applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure. Interviews of the candidates, after a preselection by the selection committee, will take place in September 2023.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Prof. Dr. Adrian Covaci (TC; and Prof. Dr. Lieven Bervoets ( with as email subject “DOCPRO PFAS and toxicology.”

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.

Job details

PhD Analytical Chemistry and Toxicology Investigation of the bioavailability of legacy and emerging PFAS in the terrestrial food chain along a PFAS pollution gradient
Prinsstraat 13 Antwerp, Belgium
Application deadline
2023-07-31 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2023-07-31 23:59 (CET)
Job type
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