15 Ph.D. Positions. Bioeconomy (Across Europe) Deadline: Sept. 02, 2019

AgRefine ITN Project

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Starting on

November 1, 2019


Three Years



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Program Details

The H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions project AgRefine coordinated by Dr. Fionnuala Murphy, School of Biosystems & Food Engineering, University College Dublin is currently recruiting 15 post-graduate researchers with specialisation in Microbial/Chemical/Biochemical Engineering, Process Engineering, Biosystems and Food Engineering, Environmental Science, Economics or related disciplines.

Europe’s agri-sector is facing both a sustainability and socio-economic challenge due to the combined challenges of increasing environmental pressures through fossil fuel consumption and waste generation (~10% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions), increasing dependence on imported plant-based protein sources (feed), and lack of well-paid rural employment. Biorefinery and waste to energy (WTE) technologies that are being promoted as mechanisms by which agricultural challenges can be simultaneously addressed, have until now been presented as stand-alone agri-valorisation systems and not integrated processes that holistically take into consideration the technical and socio-economic aspects of all operations from input feedstocks to end- and side-products. The AgRefine ITN project proposes to disrupt the mechanism by which biomass is currently being used by cooperatively integrating innovative stand-alone technologies so that the highest value, socio economically beneficial products per input substrates, can be achieved (entrepreneurial).

The goal of the AgRefine Network is to train PhD students to become the bioeconomy leaders of tomorrow with the necessary skills and knowledge to position Europe as the global leader in developing an agri-bioeconomy industry based on advanced biorefinery technologies. The AgRefine integrated training programme will facilitate the amelioration of Europe’s agri-sector competitiveness and environmental sustainability challenges by creating new and optimising current agri-resource and agri-waste valorisation pathways. AgRefine will achieve this by bringing together a world-class consortium with experts from 5 European Universities (with expertise in biorefinery technology, engineering, life cycle assessment, economics), 1 applied research institute, 8 industry partners (from engineering, anaerobic diegestion and biorefinery industries), 1 regulatory body and 1 industry network representing 6 countries. The goals of the network will be achieved by a unique combination of “hands-on” research training, non-academic placements, summer schools and workshops on research-related and transferable skills facilitated by the academic and non-academic composition of the consortium. An important element of the training network is the Network wide training events and industry secondments and the emphasis on training all PhD students in key transferable skills.

Positions are offered for 3 years for the following individual research projects:

  • Project 1 – Three phase bio-reactor biosensor development. Host – University College Dublin, Ireland
  • Project 2 – Downstream contaminant removal purification process. Host – University College Dublin, Ireland
  • Project 3 – Process optimization for enhanced lactic and amino acid production. Host – Technical University of Denmark
  • Project 4 – Enhanced TPB-3rd phase biorefinery lactic acid and amino acid generation and recovery.
  • Host – Technische Universität Wien, Austria
  • Project 5 – Bio-succinic production from TPB-2nd phase biogas and AD-biorefinery residues
  • Host – Technical University of Denmark
  • Project 6 – Α continuous flow contaminant removal membrane bioreactor system for LA purification using GMOs.
  • Host – Centre for Research and Technology Hellas, Greece (registered at Technische Universität Wien)
  • Project 7 – Ensiled seaweed as an alternative biorefinery input substrates.
  • Host – Bantry Marine Research Station, Ireland (registered at University College Dublin)
  • Project 8 – Bioeconomy Supply Chain Management. Host – University College Dublin, Ireland
  • Project 9 – Nutrient Recovery. Host – Gent University, Belgium
  • Project 10 – Three-phase-bioreactor scalability and Anaerobic Digestion-retrofitting analysis. Host – Technische Universität Wien, Austria
  • Project 11 – Product Substitution. Host – Gent University, Belgium
  • Project 12 – Dynamic Life Cycle Assessment. Host – University College Dublin, Ireland
  • Project 13 – Assessment of green biorefinery archetypes and implementation scenarios. Host – TBW Research, Austria (registered at Technische Universität Wien)​​​​​​​ 
  • Project 14 – Financial sustainability and sustainable business models. Host – Gent University, Belgium
  • Project 15 – Enabling Governance Arrangements for Next Generation Agri Biorefinery Technology. Host – Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

Eligibility/ Requirements

Candidates must have not been awarded a doctoral degree and should be in the first four years of their research career. Candidates must have an educational background relevant for the chosen position (individual research project). Candidates must have excellent proficiency in written and spoken English (at least level B2) and fulfil the specific University recruitment criteria of each position. Candidates can be of any nationality but need to demonstrate mobility in terms of moving from one country to another when taking up their appointment. Importantly, candidates must not have resided or carried out their activities – work, studies, etc.- in the country of their host organization for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the PhD start date (see H2020 MSCA Mobility Rule below).

Specific requirements

– Applicants can be of any nationality.

– Applicants must be eligible to enrol on a PhD programme at the host institution (or at a designated university in case the host institution is a non-academic organisation).

H2020 MSCA Mobility Rule: researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of the host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status are not included in this 12-month period.

H2020 MSCA eligibility criteria: Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) must, at the date of recruitment by the host organisation, have less than four years of full-time equivalent research experience and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. Full-Time Equivalent Research Experience is measured from the date when the researcher obtained the degree entitling him/her to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged).

Application Process

Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. Master of Science diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do
  4. Publication list (if possible)

More details here.

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