Call for applicants

Call for applicants:

2 PhD positions in the EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Project InnovEOX:

Training of a new generation of researchers in Innovative Electrochemical Oxidation processes for the removal and analysis of micro-pollutants in water streams


Applications are invited for 2 PhD positions (“Early Stage Researchers”) to be funded by the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network “INNOVEOX – Training of a new generation of researchers in Innovative Electrochemical Oxidation processes for the removal and analysis of micro-pollutants in water streams” within the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission. INNOVEOX is a consortium of high-profile universities, research institutions and companies located in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Greece.

It has been demonstrated that organic chemical pollutants are still putting half of the European freshwater system at risk. The INNOVEOX R&D training network was built to address and provide a solution for this considerable challenge: to boost innovative electrochemical wastewater treatment techniques to effectively degrade highly hazardous organic micro-pollutants, reducing environmental pollution and improving the European quality of life and health. By setting up a training frame to educate the next generation of highly-qualified ESRs in one of the most promising fields in micro-pollutant degradation, this will enable to generate important innovations, necessary to create a new level of EU excellence and reinforce EU R&D capacity in the field.

The main INNOVEOX R&D objectives are:

  1. the exploration of alternative electrochemical oxidation pathways via generation of different oxidative radicals,
  2. the development of combined photocatalytic/electrochemical oxidation techniques,
  3. the development of novel analytical approaches for the separation and identification of these micro-pollutants and their degradation products, and
  4. an assessment of the effects of the developed treatments on the aquatic toxicity, biological wastewater treatment and the environment as a whole via a life cycle assessment.

These objectives combined will ensure a high-quality training with a high-societal impact for the reliable, economic and complete removal of priority pollutants from wastewater. Pushed by an interdisciplinary & intersectoral consortium of 10 leading beneficiaries and 7 partner organisations, the proposal will offer innovative training based on an optimal balance between research and formal training.

Key dates

  • 01-11-2019: Start date for on-line application
  • 12-11-2019: Deadline for on-line application
  • 15-11-2019: Circulation list “preselected candidates”
  • 21-11-2019 (date to be confirmed): Recruitment event in Leuven, Belgium
  • 01-01-2020: Targeted starting date for ESR contracts

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Key background info


InnovEOX wishes to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. Recruitment targets ESR backgrounds in:

  1. Chemical Engineering
  2. Environmental Engineering
  3. Bio-Science Engineering
  4. Electrotechnical Engineering
  5. (Analytical) Chemistry
  6. Pharmacy

In total 15 ESRs will be recruited that will work at the 10 beneficiaries across Europe.

We expect that applicants hold a university degree that qualifies them for doctoral studies at their recruiting organization. Solid written and oral communication skills in English are prerequisites of any successful application (typically IELTS min. 7, TOEFL internet-based min. 90 or similar level as proven by other tests). Every applicant can apply for up to three ESR positions (first, second, third choice).


Career Stage

Early Stage Researcher (ESR) or 0-4 yrs (Post Graduate)


Benefits and salary

The successful candidates will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for Early Stage Researchers. The exact (net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment and is dependent on local tax regulations and on the country correction factor (to allow for the difference in cost of living in different EU Member States). The salary includes a living allowance, a mobility allowance and a family allowance (if married). The guaranteed PhD funding is for 36 months (i.e. EC funding, additional funding is possible, depending on the local Supervisor, and in accordance with the regular PhD time in the country of origin). In addition to their individual scientific projects, all fellows will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses and active participation in workshops and conferences.


On-line Recruitment Procedure

All applications proceed through the on-line recruitment portal on the website. Candidates apply electronically for one to maximum three positions and indicate their preference. Candidates provide all requested information including a detailed CV (Europass format obligatory). During the registration, applicants will need to prove that they are eligible, according to the ESR definition, mobility criteria, and English language proficiency. The deadline for the on-line registration is 12 November 2019. The Innoveox Recruitment Committee selects between 20 and maximum 30 candidates for the Recruitment Event which will take place in Leuven (21 November 2019). The selected candidates provide a 20 minute presentation and are examined by the Recruitment Committee. In order to facilitate their travel, selected candidates (from outside Belgium) receive a fixed, lump sum of 250 euro (paid by the prioritised Supervisor). The final decision on who to recruit is communicated the day after the Recruitment Event. The selected ESRs are to start their research as quickly as possible (target: 1 January 2020).


Applicants need to fully respect three eligibility criteria (to be demonstrated in the Europass cv):

Early-stage researchers (ESR) are those who are, at the time of recruitment by the host, in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers. This is measured from the date when they obtained the degree which formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the research training is provided, irrespective of whether or not a doctorate was envisaged.

Conditions of international mobility of researchers:

Researchers are required to undertake trans-national mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up the appointment. At the time of selection by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.

English language: Network fellows (ESRs) must demonstrate that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficiently high for them to derive the full benefit from the network training.


The 15 PhD positions in the EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Project InnovEOX:


ESR9: Evaluation of sample prep methods for the monitoring of eAOP degradation products

ESR9: Evaluation of sample prep methods for the monitoring of eAOP degradation products

Host: Ineris (France)

Main supervisor: Dr. François Lestremau (

Academic promoter: Prof. Deirdre Cabooter (PhD awarded by KU Leuven)

Duration: 36 months

Required profile: (Analytical) Chemist, Pharmacist, Bio-Science Engineer

Description: AOPs tend to produce degradation products that are more polar than the parent pollutants. Current analytical methodologies are not completely suited to analyze a large range of pollutants particularly for polar to very polar substances. Direct injection of the sample can be performed but toxicological level of many of these pollutants (ng/L level) cannot generally be reached. Therefore, there is a current need to develop reliable analytical methodologies that are able to reflect the real composition of waste water pollution at trace levels particularly after degradation treatment. Pre-concentration of contaminants in waste water is particularly challenging due to the complexity of the matrix. As degradation products are expected to be mostly polar, only the dissolved phase will be studied. Enrichment methods based on solid phase extraction (SPE) will be evaluated and compared with large volume direct injections. Since compounds with a large variety in polarity will be considered, multi-mode SPE cartridges will be prepared in-house by combining different SPE sorbents. These sorbents will first be evaluated for a representative test sample to identify the most suitable combination of sorbents and retention/elution strategies. The developed protocol will then be applied to real samples generated in an industrial setting. Analysis will be performed using liquid chromatography coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry instrument. Data treatment will be particularly studied to produce a methodology suited for the determination and identification of a large range of contaminant with particular focus on generated polar degradation products.


ESR11: Development of high temperature vacuum GC-EI-MS and of capillary SFC-EI-MS

ESR11: Development of high temperature vacuum GC-EI-MS and of capillary SFC-EI-MS

Host: Ghent University (Belgium)

Main supervisor: Prof. Frédéric Lynen (

Duration: 36 months

Required profile: (Analytical) Chemist, Pharmacist, Bio-Science Engineer

Description: Today only GC-MS provides the potential of swift solute identification due to the exploitation of the extremely stable electron ionization (EI) process, allowing for the availability of compound libraries containing hundreds of thousands of compounds. As thus far soft ionization sources used in GC have not allowed the construction of comparable libraries. It is therefore highly useful to enhance the applicability range of hard high vacuum ionization sources in GC-MS to the analysis of less volatile solutes. Therefore, in this early stage research project the applicability range of GC will be extended through (I) the improvement of the thermal stability range of polar and apolar GC columns, and (II) the implementation and further development of vacuum GC also in combination with the former approach. The potential of the recently developed vacuum UV detection will also be explored for the analysis of degradation products from eAOPs in combination with GC. Compounds not amenable to these GC based approaches will be studied in supercritical fluid chromatography in capillary type GC columns with CO2 and Xenon as mobile phases whereby only density gradients are applied to ensure elution of all solutes on the columns. The avoidance of the usage of organic modifiers in this way will still allow for effective combination with EI-MS. The usage of xenon as mobile phase will additionally allow for identification of alarming functional groups in degradation products from eAOPs by direct hyphenation with infrared spectroscopy.



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Full recruitment procedure available here: Recruitment Document

This project is to receive funding from the European Union’s EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020, pending the formal completion of the Grant Agreement (No 861369) procedure.