Scholarship in Europe

PhD scholarship µFlow Cell – Brussels, Belgium

For already 50 years, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has stood for freedom, equality and connectedness. These values are strongly present on our campuses, in our students as well as our staff. At the VUB, you’ll find a diverse collection of personalities: pure innovators and especially people who are 100% their authentic selves. With about 3.500 employees, we are the largest Dutch-speaking employer in Brussels, an international city with which we are all too happy to be connected, and around which our four campuses are located.

Our education and research are grounded in the principles of free research with an eye on human progress. We disapprove of every purely authoritative argument and guarantee the free formation of judgement that is necessary for this basic principle to be incorporated in the community.

The VUB is autonomous and managed democratically. As such, we guarantee fundamental freedoms within our university, as well as the right of the university community to be involved in making and checking university policy.

The mission of the university includes:

  • the development, the transfer and the application of high-standing academic education and scientific research, free from any prejudice;
  • community integration of this in a spirit of social compassion;
  • critical development of everyone in light of the responsibilities borne in the community.

2 – Position description

The Faculty of Engineering, Department Chemische ingenieurstechnieken en industriële scheikunde, is looking for a PhD-student with a doctoral grant.

More concretely your work package, for the preparation of a doctorate, contains:

µFlow Cell is a multidisciplinary research group of the VUB that works on the upscaling of microfluidics for pharmaceutical, biotechnological or medical applications.
µFlow Cell is recognized and supported by VUB as a Group of Excellence in Advanced Research (GEAR). The group has a number of research lines that are further developed with the financial support of the Brussels Government via Innoviris, the Flemish Government via FWO and VLAIO, the European Union via Horizon Europe, or through direct collaborations with interested companies.
To support the activities of µFlow Cell, VUB is also building a new cleanroom (MICROLAB) for microfabrication in silicon and glass for microfluidics. The cleanroom is under construction and will be operational in the first half of 2023. MICROLAB will have a floorspace of 550 m², of which 300 m² will be equipped with the most advanced machines for every essential production step in microfabrication.

µFlow Cell is now looking for a PhD student who will participate in the project ‘Vortex enhanced liquid chromatography for HbA1c monitoring based diabetes management in a globalized setting (VortexLC)’. This research is supported by the European Union as a prestigious Pathfinder project. The project will be carried out in a multidisciplinary research team with groups from VUB, UZ Brussel, Joanneum in Austria, NCSR Demokritos in Greece and the French company Coating Plasma Innovation. The PhD student will work specifically on the development of a unique technology called vortex chromatography, in which electroosmotoc flows are used to induce lateral vortices in a chromatographic column, enabling complex separations at reduced pressure. It is a promising technique for the separation of blood and the accurate measurement of all hemoglobin variants. Since the method can be performed at low pressure, it also opens the door for implementation of the instrument in a ponit-of-care setting. With the help of the project partners, the aim is to manufacture these columns from a polymer, using nanoimprinting and plasma technology, a process that could ultimately be applied roll-to-roll on an industrial scale.

The doctoral student will at least be responsible for following tasks.
•    Construction of new experimental setups, ensuring their good functioning through proper maintenance.
•    Interact with other researchers and potential suppliers to continuously improve the setup.
•    Independently conduct experiments on these setups.
•    Design, analyse and report experiments.
•    Interaction with other academic and industrial research groups.
•    Prepare and possibly attend technical meetings with internal or external customers.
•    Maintain order, safety and quality in his/her workspace.

For this function, our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Elsene) will serve as your home base.

3 – Profile

What do we expect from you?

The candidate has a degree of Master in Physics, Chemistry, Bioengineering, Electronics, Electromechanics, Electricity, Materials Science, Microfabrication, Masters in Engineering or Industrial Engineering, or equivalent.

The candidate can present good study results.

The ideal candidate already has a first hands-on experience in research and development in an industrial and/or academic environment. The following additional technical/functional knowledge is appreciated.

•    Knowledge of microfluidics is a plus.
•    Familiarity with lab and/or cleanroom environment is a plus.
•    Candidate must be adept at researching professional literature and patents.
•    Excellent knowledge of spoken and written English is essential, knowledge of Dutch and/or other languages is a plus.
•    ICT: excellent knowledge of basic software packages Excel, Word, Outlook, Powerpoint, use of machine software are essential. Knowledge of Solidworks or similar CAD program, Matlab, Labview, PLC is a plus.

For this position we expect the following personality.
•    Eager to learn: urge to quickly acquire and maintain in-depth knowledge in a very specific field.
•    Sense of initiative and flexibility.
•    Strong in scientific analysis and reporting.
•    Working with high self-imposed standards for quality and accuracy.
•    Able to work both autonomously and in a team.
•    Strong in multi-tasking.
•    Hands-on mentality.
•    Willing to occasionally work overtime to meet specific deadline.

Candidate will be supervised by Prof. Wim De Malsche.
At the start, the candidate will have one or two colleagues who can support him/her technically. He/she will work in a group of 15-20 researchers.

  • You have not performed any works in the execution of a mandate as an assistant, paid from operating resources, over a total (cumulated) period of more than 12 months.

4 – Offer

Are you going to be our new colleague?

You’ll be offered a full-time PhD-scholarship, for 12 months (with a maximum total of 4 years) months (extendable up to max. 48 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the PhD activities), with planned starting date 01/09/2022.

You’ll receive a grant linked to one of the scales set by the government.

IMPORTANT: The effective result of the doctorate scholarship is subject to the condition precedent of your enrolment as a doctorate student at the university.

At the VUB, you’re guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.

As well as this, you’ll enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance;
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise;
  • Ecocheques;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work-life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).

5 – Interested?

Is this the job you’ve been dreaming of?

Send us ONLINE and at the latest on 15/08/2022 your CV, letter of motivation and the highest degree you’ve attained (not applicable for VUB alumni).

Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Prof. Dr. ir. Wim De Malsche at or on +32 (0)2 629 3781.

Would you like to know what it’s like to work at the VUB? Go to and find all there is to know about our campuses, benefits, strategic goals and your future colleagues.

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