PhD scholarship in Predictive Food Microbiology

DTU Food
Thursday 21 Jun 18

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DTU Food invites applications for a three-year PhD position within the research group of Food Microbiology and Hygiene. The group develops and applies methods for the rapid detection, typing, quantification and prediction of microorganisms and microbial responses in food and water. Characteristics of food products are combined with detailed microbial kinetics to develop predictive food microbiology models. New mathematical models and software are developed for improved development, processing, distribution, risk assessment and HACCP-based own control programs for various foods. The research group consists of nine faculty/scientists, 11 PhD students/postdocs and has substantial experience within predictive food microbiology (see

Predictive food microbiology models are increasingly used by industry for product formulation and by authorities in documentation of food safety to reduce time-to-market and costs of microbiological testing. To be used in this way extensive and validated mathematical models including the effect of various product characteristics and storage conditions are required. This PhD project will focus on dairy products and on development of extensive and validated predictive food microbiology models for Clostridium botulinum to be applied in management of food safety.  

Responsibilities and tasks
The PhD project will study growth responses of Clostridium botulinum and aims to develop mathematical models and a tool to reliably predict no-growth conditions for this important pathogenic microorganism. Focus will be on dairy products including spreadable cheeses during distribution at ambient temperature. Non-toxigenic mutants of C. botulinum will be constructed and used to develop growth and growth boundary models. The project is supported by the Danish Dairy Research Foundation and includes collaboration between DTU Food, KU Leuven in Belgium and a Danish dairy company. 

  • You will contribute to the development and characterization of non-toxigenic mutants of mesophilic C. botulinum isolates by using gene-replacement and whole genome sequencing during a research stay at KU Leuven in Belgium with Prof. Chris W. Michiels.
  • You will be responsible for development and evaluation of growth and growth boundary models for non-toxigenic C. botulinum mutants. This includes kinetic characterization and selection of mutants by using automated growth analyzers.
  • You will quantify and mathematically model the inhibitory effect of dairy specific ingredients in cheeses on growth and survival of C. botulinum.
  • Your research could include programming of a predictive tool/software to facilitate the application of the developed models by industry, authorities and others.

Candidates should have a master's degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering.

We are looking for a candidate with experience in food microbiology and with the ability to perform experimental studies of microbial kinetics in food and laboratory systems. Interest in both fundamental and applied aspects of microbial food safety including quantitative microbial ecology and predictive modelling is needed. Candidates should preferably have some experience with molecular microbiology, sequencing and bioinformatics tools. Good communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team are required.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The assessment of the applicants will be performed by Professor Paw Dalgaard and research group leader and Professor Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Professor Paw Dalgaard, +45 4525 2566/+45 2567 5220,

You can read more about the National Food Institute at 

Please submit your online application no later than 20 July 2018.

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Food researches in and disseminates sustainable and value-adding solutions in the area of food and health for the benefit of society and business. The institute delivers its outcomes through a unique interdisciplinary cooperation between the disciplines of nutrition, chemistry, toxicology, microbiology, epidemiology and technology.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.