New positions "Scientific Researcher" @GhEnToxLab

The Faculty of Sciences at University of Antwerp and the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University have 3 full-time (100%) vacancies for talented PhD scholars in the area of

Environmental Nanoplastics: Detection, Characterization, Bioavailability, and Effects

funded by the FWO research project:“Towards ecological risk assessment of nanoplastics: dynamic considerations”


Plastic particles are everywhere in the environment and there is concern about the adverse effects they may have on organisms, and subsequently on ecosystems. Much global attention has been directed towards so-called microplastics, i.e. plastic particles with dimensions on the order of micrometers. Microplastics slowly degrade in the environment, by physical and chemical processes, into smaller and smaller entities, eventually reaching the nano-size domain. Due to difficulties in sampling and characterisation, almost nothing is known about the amounts and behaviour of extremely small plastic particles with dimensions on the order of nanometers, i.e. nanoplastics. Our project addresses this knowledge gap via measurement and modelling of the chemical reactivity, biouptake, and bioaccumulation of nanoplastics and their adverse effects on aquatic organisms. The results will provide fundamental information which enables robust risk assessment strategies to be developed that inform environmental policies.

The project is a collaboration between University of Antwerp and Ghent University, and will involve three PhD researchers. Within the overall scope of the research, the specific goals of the three PhD projects are:
PhD1: to develop experimental approaches to detect, isolate, and characterize nanoplastic particles in aqueous dispersions and in biota, including determination of the distribution of particle sizes and polymer types.
PhD2: to characterize the surface association of nanoplastics with algae, and the biouptake kinetics, bioaccumulation, and internal distribution of nanoplastic particles in copepods.
PhD3: to assess the effects of nanoplastics on algae and copepods under realistic environmental conditions, to elucidate the mechanisms that underlie the toxicity of nanoplastics, and to conduct an ecological risk assessment for nanoplastics in marine and estuarine systems.

Job description
Within the project, you will:

  • function within an international team of researchers and build a professional network
  • perform research activities with the aim of writing a PhD thesis in English
  • publish your research in scientific journals and present your results at the national and international level
  • contribute to teaching and research (including supervision of practical courses, and MSc and Erasmus student projects).

Profile and qualifications

  • Strong interest in environmental research and eager to acquire new competences and knowledge.
  • Master degree in a relevant field (Chemistry, Biology, Earth Sciences, Bioscience Engineering).
  • Outstanding academic results, fluent in spoken English, and highly competent in scientific writing in English.
  • A creative and analytical mind.
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the policies of UAntwerp and UGent. For more information visit: and
  • Experience with analytical chemical techniques is essential.
  • MSc Students in the final year of their degree can apply.

We offer:

  • A fully funded doctoral scholarship for a period of 4 years (with an evaluation after one year and continuation after positive evaluation);
  • The preferred start date of the scholarship is 1 September 2020;
  • A gross monthly grant of ca. € 2.400.


  • Submit your application by email to both Raewyn Town ( ) and Jana Asselman ( ) before the deadline of 17:00 h, 31 May 2020. Your application must include a copy of your CV, your academic transcripts, the name and contact details for two referees, and a separate motivation letter (max. 1 page) describing your research interests, skills and motivation to apply for the position. Specify which of the 3 PhD projects is of most interest to you. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
  • The selection committee will make a shortlist selection of candidates from the submitted applications. Subsequently candidates will be invited for an interview. The interviews of the candidates from the shortlist will take place in June, prior to the summer recess.
  • For more information contact:

The Universities of Antwerp and Ghent are family friendly organizations, with a focus on equal opportunities and diversity. The HR-policy for researchers of both universities has been awarded the quality label 'HR Excellence in Research' by the European Commission.