PhD student - Sweet spot: spot-on usage of non-nutritive sweeteners

July 9, 2024
Location Wageningen
End date Sat 7 September 2024
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Your job

Are you looking for a position as a PhD student? Do you want to set up and run a clinical trial to discover how non-nutritive sweeteners affect physiology, metabolism and the microbiome? Are you a nutrition scientist with a keen interest in optimizing foods and diets for health, without compromising taste? Would you like to conduct research that can make an impact on food reformulation and public health? Then this vacancy may be of interest to you.

The division of Human Nutrition and Health has an opening to conduct research on the impact of non-nutrive sweeteners on physiology, metabolism and the microbiome. As a PhD student you will be managing a controlled dietary intervention trial within the Human Research Unit of the Division of Human Nutrition and Health, analyse the data and write peer reviewed papers on the outcomes of the trial.
The work is part of a larger PPS project funded by TKI and private partners on non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS). NNS are commonly integrated into products and presumed to be inert. However, recent evidence suggests that supplementation of specific NNS may induce person-specific, microbiome-dependent glycemic alterations. Although recent studies provoke considerable debate, the precise implications of these effects are still largely unknown. It is therefore essential to create further insights into possible health effects of NNS. Especially in a manner similar to the way in which consumers are exposed to them, that is through food products containing NNS. The clinical trial will investigate health effects when NNS's are consumed in a realistic setting.

Your duties and responsibilities include:

  • preparing the medical ethical approval documents in collaboration with the project team;
  • designing test diets and operational procedures for a human dietary intervention trial together with the staff of the Human Research Unit (HRU);
  • coordinating and managing the clinical trial, including data collection, analysis and interpretation;
  • contribute to the writing of peer-reviewed manuscripts on the project results;
  • presenting findings to key project stakeholders and the scientific community.
You will work here
The research is embedded within the division of Human Nutrition and Health more specifically with in the chair groups Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour and Nutrition, metabolomics and genomics. You will be co-supervised by Dr. Monica Mars and Prof. Dr. Lydia Afman You will collaborate intensively with students, staff from the Human Research Unit, and researchers from Wageningen Food and Biobased Research during the trial.

Your qualities

You have:

  • a successfully completed MSc degree in Nutrition and Health, or related biomedical field;
  • independent but also team worker;
  • high perseverance and commitment;
  • strong analytical skills, preferable also in high throughput analyzes such as the microbiome;
  • excellent writing and oral communication skills in both Dutch and English;
  • the ambition to obtain a PhD degree.
You are independent, but also a team player who enjoys achieving milestones together with a research team. You have a positive and energetic attitude. As you are working with participants of a clinical nutrition trial we expect to have excellent interpersonal communication skills in Dutch.

For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here.

We offer you

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.
In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,-  in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling. For instance under the "30% rule", certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Monica Mars or Prof Dr. Lydia Afman, by email: or

For more information about the procedure, please contact Rutger Voorrips, corporate recruiter, by e-mail:

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.
This vacancy will be listed up to and including 8 September 2024.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.