2 PhD Candidates within Autonomous Digital Microbial Bioprocesses Systems Engineering

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About the job

Are you ready to embark on a journey into the future of industrial microbial fermentation? The Department of Chemical Engineering is offering two prestigious PhD positions in the captivating realm of Bio-process Systems Engineering.

About Us: Join our pioneering team at the forefront of transforming manual industrial microbial fermentation bio-processes into the digital era. We aim to revolutionize the field by merging expertise in control engineering, modeling, machine learning, signal processing, and programming to bring true autonomy to bio-processes.

The Project’s Essence: Our Digital Microbial Feedback Laboratory leads a groundbreaking EU project, where you’ll actively engage in cross-disciplinary collaboration. The focus is to enable the use of sustainable substrates for microbial fermentation, a pivotal topic in today’s pharma, food, and chemical bioprocess landscape. We will do it through autonomous digital control.

🌍 EU Project Collaboration: As part of a large European Union project, you’ll collaborate with 17 academic and industrial partners across Europe. You will have the option to travel to Germany (Biotechnology), Italy (A.I.), Switzerland (Oncyte Microbiology AG), Belgium (Gent), France (Algaia), Portugal and even to the Artic (PolarAlgae, Norway). Together, we are pioneering sustainable solutions for microbial fermentation, vital in industries such as pharma, materials and chemicals.

Your Role: As a PhD Candidate, you will be part of a team that leads the exploration and development of advanced control tools like optimal control, self-learning model predictive control (MPC), and autonomous learning estimators. You will also create novel digital twins that self-understand noise and disturbances in sophisticated probes, and combine these optimally to enhance control performance. In more details: You will delve into the real-time control of bacterial growth and interactions with their environment. Real-time control in microbial bioprocesses is a nascent yet promising field, and you’ll have the unique opportunity to experiment in real-time with tools like optimal control, self-learning and robust MPC, and self-learning hybrid models, fusing machine learning with mechanistic insights. We are not only interested in applying MPC, but to find new optimal and MPC methods that are tailored for real-time microbial applications, taking into consideration challenges such as uncertainty in the process, noise, time delays, etc. Plus, you’ll craft and refine digital twins, virtual estimators such as Uncented Kalman Filter, that integrate online analytical probes to enable true microbial control.

Our Arsenal: With access to our state-of-the-art laboratory equipped with automatic robots and sophisticated analytical instrumentation, you’ll have the tools you need to make a significant impact. Run your own Python or Matlab codes in the lab, and watch as they autonomously produce, like never before, real-time novel molecules, including antimicrobials!

Your supervisor: Under the guidance of Professor Nadav Bar, you’ll receive professional mentorship and support to fuel your academic and research journey, and dedicated attention. We care about our students.

Apply now and be part of a dynamic team committed to driving innovation and sustainability, to shape the future of bioprocess system engineering and control.

More details about the EU project “iCulture” you will be part of: www.iculture-project.eu

More details about the Real-time Microbial Feedback Control Laboratory (MFCL) that you will work at: Microbial Feedback Control Lab

More details about the Process systems engineering group that you will be part of: Process systems Engineering group

Duties of the position

  • Develop dynamic models and hybrid models with artificial Neural Networks (machine learning), self-learning models.
  • Explore and develop new model predictive control strategies, tailored for microbial fermenation bio-processes, and implement these in real-time in the lab.
  • Develop real-time Digital Twins, optimal control and reinforcement learning algorithms in Matlab/python to control microbial processes.
  • Run laboratory bioprocess experiments, and use of analytical instruments such as HPLC and RAMAN.
  • The work involves about 70% development of algorithms and 30% laboratory testing of your theories and algorithms.
  • You have the option to extend the position with teaching duties of the course TKP 4195 Bioprocess Engineering

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in either control theory (with preference to optimal control), and/or mathematical modelling of dynamical systems. You do not need to know biology or bacterial processes, you will get the necessary training (but if you do, it is an advantage).
  • Proficient in Matlab/Python or similar programming language.
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master’s level
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master’s degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU’s grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • Master’s students can apply, but the master’s degree must be obtained and documented by January 2024.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty’s doctoral program (https://www.ntnu.edu/chemeng)
  • Knowledge in Matlab and/ or python is mandatory
  • Good written and oral English language skills

The appointment is to be made in accordance with  Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant  

Preferred selection criteria

  • Knowledge in modelling and/or optimal control (e.g. Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering or Engineering Cybernetics)
  • knowledge in development of estimators (such as Kalman Filters) is an advantage.
  • Knowledge in industrial bioprocess or microbial processes is an advantage.
  • Structured in computer languages
  • Ability to lead a team in laboratory

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

Personal characteristics

  • High level of personal responsibility and initiative
  • Willingness to work independently as well as part of a team
  • Ability to lead a team in laboratory
  • Systematic and goal-oriented way of working

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer

  • A fully funded, full-time PhD scholarship with one of the highest PhD salary in Europe. The position is for 3 years with the possibility of 1 year extension with teaching duties.
  • You will be working in the friendly and dynamic Process Systems Engineering Group at the NTNU, supervised by Prof.There Nadav Bar, together with the well known process system control professor Sigurd Skogestad, and 15-25 other PhD students in the group. We have regular get-aways trips, monthly social activities, weekly social meetings and gatherings.
  • You will work in the advanced microbial feedback control laboratory with its cutting-edge infrustructure, software, probes and electronics, including robots, new RAMAN spectroscopy, unique online HPLC, unique online flow-cytometry, autosamplers, and dozens of other high-tech electronic devices.
  • Through the project that you will participate, you will have access to a vast industrial network, including BASF, Getinge, bioprocessing companies, and Pharma companies. You will be able to regularly visit, meet and work with these major industrial partners that can contribute to your professional career.
  • We offer personal development, including participation in international courses on Machine Learning, programming, bioprocessing, and control.
  • NTNU has a generous benefits package open to all its staff members, including a wide range of training and education opportunities,  a student accomodation in SIT, and an extraordinary wide selection of sport clubs belongs to the university, such as Rugby, swimming, climbing, dancing and athletics. Trondheim is a vibrant, safe and welcoming university city allowing great quality of life.
  • You will have the opportunity to attend international conferences, publish your results in high-profile journals and visit relevant research institutes.
  • Travel often to Portugal, Italy, Germany, Belgium, and France as part leading a large EU project.
  • favourable terms in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund employee benefits

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 532 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund

The period of employment is 3 years with the possibility of a further 1 year extension with 25% teaching duties in agreement with the Department.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Chemical Engineering within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.


The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

The position is subject to external funding

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must be attached to the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include:

  • Motivation letter (max 1 A4-page)
  • CV and certificates
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor’s and master’s degrees. If you have not completed the master’s degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master’s thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the master’s thesis (e.g. PDF). If you recently have submitted your master’s thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master’s degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Name and contact information of three referees
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor’s and master’s education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment – DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.


The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.


As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation. You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact prof. Nadav Bar, email nadi.bar@ntnu.no If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact Unni M. Myhre, e-mail: unni.m.myhre@ntnu.no

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via jobbnorge.no with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.

Application deadline: 20.11.2023

NTNU – knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Chemical Engineering 

We take chemistry from laboratory scale to industrial production. This demands a wide range of knowledge, from molecular processes and nanotechnology to building and operation of large processing plants. We educate graduates for some of Norway’s most important industries. The Department of Chemical Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

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