PhD Unravelling the protection against oxidation in emulsions provided by constituents of plant protein ingredients

Wageningen University and Research Center

Your job

Do you enjoy studying the chemistry of plant-derived food ingredients, and do you want to contribute to the transition from animal- to plant-based foods? Do you have a strong background in food/analytical chemistry? We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate in the fields of phytochemicals, lipids, and (anti)oxidation to investigate the constituents of plant protein ingredients that are responsible for protection against oxidation in emulsions.

Stability and long shelf life of food products are key determinants of their quality and are essential in minimising food waste. Protein isolates or concentrates from legumes (e.g. soy, pea, faba bean) are used as plant-derived ingredients for physical stabilization of emulsions. Interestingly, these plant protein ingredients also contribute to chemical stabilization of emulsions, by inhibiting lipid oxidation and thereby preventing rancidity. However, the compounds and mechanisms responsible for this protective effect are yet unknown. The current hypothesis is that non-protein constituents that are present in protein ingredients, such as phytochemicals and polar lipids, are primarily responsible. The main aim of this project is to identify these compounds in order to understand the underlying protective mechanisms.

You will work at the Laboratory of Food Chemistry of Wageningen University, where you will be part of a dynamic international group of analytical and food chemists. Throughout your PhD you will use state-of-the-art LC, GC, high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS), and ion mobility spectrometry (IMS). You will build on and further develop our LC-HRMS and LC-IMS-MS capabilities and combine these analyses with complementary extraction and fractionation approaches.

The outcomes from this study will provide:

  • insights in the protective mechanisms of plant protein ingredients against oxidation in emulsions;
  • leads for novel plant-derived antioxidants, and
  • guidance for (milder) processing to obtain ingredients with optimized functionality.

Your duties and responsibilities include:

  • taking charge of the PhD project and performing the proposed research;
  • developing and executing analyses on state-of-the-art chemical analytical equipment (e.g. LC-HRMS, LC-IMS-MS);
  • publishing your results in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presenting them at international conferences;
  • completing a training and supervision plan to further your personal development as a researcher;
  • supervising and guiding BSc and MSc students during their thesis;
  • contributing to the education of the Laboratory of Food Chemistry.

Your qualities

You have excellent research skills and are self-starting with a pro-active mindset.

You also possess:

  • a completed MSc degree in food/analytical/organic chemistry or a related field;
  • experience with chromatography and/or mass spectrometry;
  • experience with or affinity for phytochemicals, lipids, and/or (anti)oxidation;
  • good communication skills and ability to work effectively as a team player;
  • excellent English language proficiency, both spoken and written.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 


. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found



We offer you

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment . A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 – per month rising to € 3.539,-  in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 18th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research’s International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the “30% rule”, certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Wouter de Bruijn, assistant professor in phytochemicals, by phone: +31 317 487591 or by e-mail: [email protected] .

For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, corporate recruiter, by e-mail: [email protected] .

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.
This vacancy will be listed up to and including 8th of January 2024. We will start with the selection after the closing date. We hope to schedule the first job interviews in February 2024.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment .

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

You will work here
The research is embedded within the chair Laboratory of Food Chemistry , which is led by Prof. Jean-Paul Vincken , and the research is part of the Phytochemicals and Food lipids teams. You will be co-supervised by Dr. Wouter de Bruijn and Dr. Marie Hennebelle.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.

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