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Job ID: 143037

Professor in Food Rheo-Physics
KU Leuven

Date Posted Jun. 15, 2020
Title Professor in Food Rheo-Physics
University KU Leuven
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium
Application Deadline Sep. 15, 2020
Position Start Date Oct. 1, 2021
  • Assistant Professor
    Associate Professor
  • Food Process Engineering
    Bioengineering (all Bio-related fields)
    Engineering - Other

In the Science, Engineering and Technology Group of KU Leuven, there is a full-time academic vacancy in the field of food rheo-physics, jointly between the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Department of Microbial and Molecular Systems (M2S), Centre for Food and Microbial Technology (CFMT) and the Faculty of Engineering Science, Department of Chemical Engineering (CIT), Division Soft Matter, Rheology and Technology (SMaRT).

As complex rheo-physical setups are at the core of the vacancy, CIT will be your main physical location with co-location and administrative embedding in M2S. We are looking for internationally oriented candidates with an excellent interdisciplinary research record and with educational competence within the field of food rheo-physics. KU Leuven CFMT (M2S department) research groups focus on raw materials and their constituents, microorganisms and processes that are relevant to biological and biochemical industries in general and to food industries in particular. They 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 of raw material over production of foods and ingredients to digestion and require multidisciplinary and integrated approaches at molecular, mesoscale and macroscopic scale level. KU Leuven SMaRT division (CIT department) has embraced the triplet ‘morphology-product properties-processing’. A common and generic aspect of the research approach of SMaRT is the experimental methodology to investigate complex, micro- and nano-structured materials, encompassing a wide variety of time- and length-scales. So far, most research is focused on colloidal systems and complex polymeric systems such as immiscible synthetic polymers and crystallising polymers. Recently the research has been extended to biopolymeric systems. Both research divisions have a solid, up-to-date research infrastructure, an extensive national and international network, both in the academic and industrial world, a stable offer of highly talented PhD students and a supportive work environment. The excellent collaboration between both research divisions (a.o. on vegetable suspensions, plant-derived fibre systems, gels and dough systems) has already resulted in numerous joint projects and various realisations from which the candidate can benefit.

The new position is a strategic KU Leuven mandate with the aim to develop a beyond state-of-the-art rheo-physics-based science platform for complex food/biological systems by bridging the existing rheological expertise at SMaRT and the existing food system expertise at CFMT. This rheo-physical platform will form the scientific core to generate fundamentally new insights in the structure-function field, leading to innovations in food product/process engineering.
Specifically, we expect that

  • you develop an internationally competitive research programme on the development and application of combined rheological and biophysical methods for complex biological systems, with a particular focus on food systems;
  • you develop and introduce beyond state-of-the-art rheo-physical methods allowing to probe multiple biophysical properties of food matrices along the food chain;
  • you strengthen the existing research lines and provide additional expertise;
  • you strive for excellence in research, publish at the domain-specific highest scientific level, and give the necessary attention to research valorisation in collaboration with industry;
  • you collaborate with other academic staff members of the Divisions CFMT and SMaRT, the Departments M2S and CIT, and/or the Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Centre (LFoRCe) and beyond, and you set up international collaborations around your research program. Besides the innovations and collaborations in the food domain, which are explicitly at the base of this vacancy, the advanced rheo-physical platform for complex biological systems will have the potential for collaborations with other departments/divisions within and outside KU Leuven in the context of non-food applications;
  • you acquire competitive research funding (regional, national and European) for fundamental and applied research;
  • you supervise PhDs at an international level.

You will ensure high-quality education with a clear commitment to the quality of the programmes as a whole. The assignment may cover introductory and advanced courses in rheology (for programmes on Chemical Engineering) and in food rheology and food biophysics (for programmes on Food Technology) at bachelor and/or master level.
You will also contribute to the pedagogic project of both faculties through the supervision of BSc. and MSc. theses and as a promoter of PhD students.
You will 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.

You are prepared to provide scientific, social and internal services.
You 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.

Profile * you have a PhD in Chemical Engineering, Bioscience Engineering, or an equivalent degree in a domain that guarantees an excellent starting position for the teaching and research programme;

  • you have a strong background in fundamental rheology and engineering and have knowledge about and expertise with biological materials/food systems allowing to substantially advance the field of food rheo-physics and to create cooperation and innovation in food and beyond;
  • 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 to 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. 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, you will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch to the legally required level.

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.
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. In principle, junior researchers are appointed as an assistant professor on the tenure track for a period of 5 years. After this period and a positive evaluation, you will be permanently appointed (or tenured) as an associate professor.
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 the start up of the research a PhD fellowship for four years, laboratory infrastructure and start up financing will be provided.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Chris Michiels, tel.: +32 16 32 15 78, mail: or Prof. dr. ir. Paula Moldenaers, tel.: +32 16 32 23 59, mail:
For problems with online applying, please contact

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 realisations;
- an extensive cv including a full publication list and if applicable a portfolio of your architectural projects;
- your research plan with focus on the development of your research line and research team in relation with the colleague-researchers of the entity of employment (maximum 5 pages);
- your vision on academic education and its organisation (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);

  • 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 seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments.
    If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

Please reference in your cover letter when
applying for or inquiring about this job announcement.

Contact Information

  • HR Department
    KU Leuven
    Parijsstraat 72b Bus 5540
    Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3001


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