Professor in Microbial Ecology for the Bio-based Circular Economy

In the Science, Engineering and Technology Group of KU Leuven, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Chemical Engineering there is a full-time academic vacancy for a microbial ecologist to perform research on novel technologies that help the bio-based circular economy. Recycling of organic waste can turn a fossil fuel based economy into a bio-based economy. The future in this domain targets the development of new technologies that use organic waste streams for gaining products with high added value. We are looking for internationally oriented candidates with an excellent research record and with educational competence within the field of applied microbial ecology. You will work in the Division of Soil and Water Management of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. That division conducts research on land and water management at different scales and includes environmental microbiology and environmental chemistry ( You will also collaborate with the Division of (Bio)Chemical Reactor Engineering and Safety (CREaS) in the Department of Chemical Engineering. That division integrates expertise, methodologies and techniques from different (bio)chemical reactor and process engineering domains (



  • You conduct fundamental and applied research on (technologies for) the valorisation of organic waste streams. In that research, we expect a focus on the role of microbial ecology in such technologies.
  • You will use current state of the art methods to understand the ecology and functioning of microbial communities dealing with bioconversion processes and you analyse measures for improvement and control.
  • You give attention to research valorisation in collaboration with government and industry.
  • You set up international collaborations in this field.
  • You strive for excellence in your research and thusly provide a contribution to the continued development and the international character of the research groups and departments.
  • You publish at the highest scientific level, acquire resources for fundamental and applied research, develop international collaborations and supervise PhDs at an international level.


  • You ensure high-quality education in the field of microbial ecology and environmental technology with a clear commitment to the quality of the program as a whole. You also contribute to the pedagogic project of the faculty/university through the supervision of master theses and as a promoter of PhD students.
  • You develop your teaching in accordance with KU Leuven’s vision on activating and research-based education and make use of the possibilities for the educational professionalisation offered by the faculty and the university.


  • As academic staff of KU Leuven, you play an important role in society through your research and teaching, but also through your participation in the public debate, contributions to policy-supporting research projects for governments from the local to the European level, and participation in research-for-development projects (collaboration with developing countries).
  • You take up an active role in councils, educational committees, working groups of the university and in particular, of the division, department and faculty you will belong to.


  • You have a PhD in Bioscience engineering or in a related field and you have proven expertise in the field of microbial ecology related to biotechnological applications.
  • You have a strong scientific track record with international publications.
  • Demonstrated scientific mobility is considered a strong asset, e.g. through substantial work experience outside KU Leuven.
  • You have demonstrated skills for teaching at academic level. Teaching experience is an advantage.
  • You possess the capacity to lead and animate a research team and to attract research funding.
  • You have organisational skills, a collegial attitude and leadership skills in a university context. This is complemented by strong interpersonal skills and the ability to function in international teams.
  • Proficiency in English is required. The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch. If you do not speak Dutch (or do not speak it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable you to take part in meetings. Before teaching courses in Dutch or English, you will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch or English, respectively, to the required standard.


We are offering 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. It is highly inter- and multidisciplinarily focused and strives for international excellence. In this regard, it actively works together with research partners in Belgium and abroad. KU Leuven provides its students with an academic education that is based on high-quality scientific research.

You will work in Leuven, a historic, dynamic and lively city located in the heart of Belgium, within 20 minutes from Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam.

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. If you are a junior researcher you will, in principle, be appointed as assistant tenure track professor for a period of 5 years. If your evaluation after this period is positive, you will be permanently appointed (or tenured) as an associate professor. You will receive a starting grant for setting up your research and recruiting a PhD researcher.

KU Leuven is well set to welcome foreign professors and their family and provides practical support with regard to immigration & administration, housing, childcare, learning Dutch, partner career coaching, …
To facilitate scientific onboarding and accelerate research in the first phase a starting grant of 100.000 euro is offered to new professors without substantial other funding, appointed for at least 50%.”


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Gert Verstraeten, tel.: +32 16 32 64 11, mail:, Prof. dr. ir. Erik Smolders, tel.: +32 16 32 96 77, mail: or Prof. dr. ir. Ilse Smets, tel.: +32 16 32 26 87, mail: For problems with online applying, please contact

Link to website
Share this opportunity