The project is centred around the crop white Asparagus and is focused on 1) advancing our knowledge of identifying the key metabolites present in the crop which contribute to flavour and fragrance; 2) determine which biochemical pathways are involved, where in the shoots these metabolites are produced and how their production is influenced by e.g. genetics, shoot development and environment. You will use advanced metabolomics techniques based on state of the art GC-MS and LC-MS approaches followed by applying dedicated data processing, mining and statistics. A second PhD student shall be based at the Department of Food Processing Engineering who shall investigate how these compounds are influenced by different food processing technologies and to determine if / when key volatile components are lost and how this can be avoided. This project is co-sponsored by two industrial partners who will actively contribute both knowledge and materials to the project.
We are looking for an enthusiastic and highly motivated PhD student in plant, food or analytical (bio)chemistry. To qualify for the position you should have a MSc degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject (food chemistry, analytical chemistry, plant biochemistry, metabolomics) ; previous experience with mass spectrometry would be a pré. The candidate will work closely together with a second PhD student based at Food Process Engineering.
The key activities are therefore: mass spectrometry-based analysis of volatile and non-volatile metabolites in Asparagus, determining how metabolic profiles are influenced by plant physiology, genetics (variety), environment and, together with the second PhD student, how biochemical composition are influenced by contrasting processing treatments.
The position can start immediately and is full-time (38 hours/week), initially for 1 year after which a go/no-go decision will be taken on extension for another three years. The gross salary in the first year is € 2.222,-per month rising to € 2.840,- in the fourth year.
Applicants are requested to send a full CV; a cover letter describing their research experience and their motivation to join the project; and the names and contacts of at least 2 referees.
For more information about this position, please contact the project leader Professor Robert Hall, email
For more information about the contractual aspects, please contact Eva Siebelink, HR advisor, at