Introduction: Zambia has numerous local fermented foods. Many are consumed on a daily basis by large parts of the population and are part of the Zambian and African culture. Fermented food products rely on microbial activity and have significant added value compared to non-fermented food products due to higher nutritional value, longer shelf life and better taste and are produced locally according to ancient traditions.

Producers are mainly women, who sell the products at local markets generating a livelihood for themselves and their families. To stimulate development of the products, this NWO-WOTRO funded project will study the key elements of the production chains (such as processing practices and consumer preferences) of two of these products, Mabisi (based on milk) and Munkoyo/Chibwantu (based on cereal), as well as study the microbial ecology and evolution that underlies product properties. This project is a collaboration of consortium led by Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the University of Zambia, further consisting of other partners in the Netherlands (CSK Food Enrichment and Yoba-for-Life) and in Zambia (Tropical Diseases Research Centre and Heifer International).

The project is offering two PhD scholarships in the field of Food Science & Technology. The PhD positions will establish consumer preference and requirements and how taste, nutritional value, food stability and food safety of the products are affected by production procedures, fermentation processes and the ecology of the micro-organisms responsible for fermentation. ThePhD students will also perform fundamental research through both experiments and modelling on the microbial ecology and evolution in relation to compositional and functional stability of the community of fermenting microbes.

Candidate profile: We are looking for 2 PhD candidates in the field of Food Science and Technology. Phd candidate 1: will focus on Mabisi; PhD candidate 2: will focus on Munkoyo/Chibwantu. Candidates must possess a Masters degree in food science and technology, microbiology, biotechnology, evolutionary ecology, genetics or related field. Candidates must have willingness and ability to perform field as well as laboratory based research and affinity with conditions in rural Zambia. They must also have willingness and ability to spend 60% of time in Zambia (mostly Lusaka) and 40% in Wageningen, the Netherlands during the four year project. Candidates should expect travelling to rural parts of Zambia and interacting with the rural population. Preference will be given to Zambian candidates.

Project organisation: The PhD candidates will be registered at Wageningen University (The Netherlands), at the Food Science Cluster; groups of Food Quality and Design and Food Microbiology in a sandwich program with the University of Zambia and will graduate from Wageningen University. The PhD course-work will be at Wageningen University; laboratory and field work will be both at the University of Zambia and Wageningen University. PhD candidates are expected to spend around 40% of the time in Wageningen and 60% in Zambia during the four-year PhD project. Candidates will be offered a tax-free stipend for 4 years paid through Wageningen University on the basis of Nuffic guidelines (see

Supervision: The PhD candidates will be working with a multidisciplinary team of supervisors from The University of Zambia, School of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Food Science and Nutrition (Dr John Shindano and Dr Sijmen Schoustra) and from Wageningen University (Dr Sijmen Schoustra, Genetics and Evolutionary Biology; Dr Anita Linnemann, Food Quality and Design and Prof Dr Eddy Smid, Food Microbiology). Representatives of other members of the programme consortium will also be involved in the project.

Further, a third PhD candidate based in Wageningen, who will study more fundamental aspects related to microbial ecology and evolution using traditional products as model systems, will be part of the team. (This third PhD candidate is to be recruited through a separate procedure, see 24865.)

To apply: Send us a motivation letter outlining why you would like to pursue a PhD, your suitability and how this specific PhD project aligns with your personal interest. Further, include your CV, names and contact details of three references (at least two academic references) and electronic copies of your academic certificates and transcripts (BSc/MSc). Submit your application via email to both the project coordinator (Dr Sijmen Schoustra: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or by regular mail to:

Dr John Shindano – Head of Department

& Dr Sijmen Schoustra – Visiting Professor

Department of Food Science and Nutrition,

School of Agricultural Sciences

University of Zambia

PO box 32379

Lusaka, Zambia

Closing date for applications: 15th January 2015. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview in Lusaka.

More information and informal enquiries: You may contact Dr Sijmen Schoustra – Project Coordinator and/or Dr John Shindano. Full project description is available upon request ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; phone +260 974 572686/+260 955 723612; +31 317 483142).

The University of Zambia is the leading academic institution in Zambia. Within the School of Agricultural Sciences, the Department of Food Science and Nutrition studies Zambian related foods, their properties, processing and nutritional impact. Wageningen University and Research Centre (Wageningen UR) is a leading international organization. Within the field of healthy nutrition and living environment we are working on the quality of life.