PhD student bioinspired functional materials

Your function

The research project will deal both with the fundamental aspects of material synthesis, but also on the materials properties and characterization.
You will focus in your research on the development of advanced nano(bio)materials with functional properties (e.g. responsiveness, functional groups) to influence higher biological functions. You will explore bioinspired solutions based on functional interfaces. The goal is to overcome existing challenges in different material-bio interfaces and also provide better understanding of structure-property-performance relationship of the developed materials. The challenging research project involves tuning the biological interactions of the functional materials by tailoring the latter’s physicochemical characteristics. The research will be strongly integrated with other ongoing research projects on functional (nano)materials at the institute in close collaboration with collaborating groups that possess complementary expertise. You have access to state-of-the-art techniques to realize the envisaged project goals. You will work within a stimulating and interdisciplinary research environment.

Besides your project, other tasks involve:

  • Professionalize yourself in advanced characterization techniques and synthesis procedures of (nano)biomaterials by attending a number of specialized courses/workshops.
  • Develop transferable and networking skills by participating in national and international conferences, and personal development and soft skills via the Doctoral School.
  • Take part in teaching (practicals, exercise classes) and the organization of workshops/symposia.
This PhD project is part of the Doctoral School of Sciences and Technology at the UHasselt Faculty of Sciences.

Your team

The Nanobiophysics and Soft Matter Interfaces research group is looking for a motivated PhD student in the context of the synthesis and characterization of bioinspired functional materials.

The group of Prof. Dr. Anitha Ethirajan focusses on the development of functional materials for advanced biomedical applications (bioimaging, drug delivery, sensing, contrast agents and theranostics).  The interdisciplinary group lays strong emphasis on the rational design of materials and investigating soft matter and nano-bio interfaces. The group has established strong collaborations with both internal (at Hasselt University) and external national and international research groups. The NSI group is located in the Institute for Materials Research ( at Hasselt University.

Your talents

  • You obtained a master’s degree in chemistry (or equivalent), material science, physical chemistry, biochemistry.
    Final-year students are (likewise) encouraged to apply.
  • You are motivated by the topic of bio inspired nano(bio)materials for developing advanced materials with functional properties.
  • You have experience with production and characterization of materials.
  • A good background in polymer chemistry and experience in polymer nanoparticle synthesis is a plus.
  • You have basic knowledge of nanomaterials-cell studies and relevant characterization techniques.
  • You are fluent in the English language, both orally as in writing.
  • You are well-organized and dedicated to performing a practical experiment in the best way, ensuring that technical instruments are employed / calibrated in the right way.
  • You possess good relational, communicative and reporting skills to function within a interdisciplinary research group.
  • Although you will get the possibility to professionalize yourself by attending specialized courses and workshops, your application is further strengthened if you possess a good background and experience in the fields of advanced nanoparticle synthesis with functional properties, functionalization/derivatization of biopolymers, conjugation reactions, physical and chemical characterization techniques as well as nano(material)-cell interactions.
  • You are willing to contribute to a positive working atmosphere and are able to connect with the different domains and collaborators (practical assistants, PhD students, post-docs, and professors).

Our offer for you

You will be appointed and paid as PhD student.
PhD scholarship for 2 years, renewable for 2 years following a positive interim evaluation. UHasselt offers its employees numerous staff benefits.

Apply for this position

The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview.
A letter of recommendation from the supervisor of your master thesis is required. You have to include a CV and convincing personal statement that focuses on your personal background and/or experiences which clearly evidence aspirations and competences for pursuing a doctoral study in the given research topic. An additional task will be given in the selection procedure.

Apply now
Apply up to 30.04.2024

Question about this vacancy?

For substantive questions, send an e-mail to or For questions about the selection procedure, please email

Hasselt University works to ensure that everyone is welcome, feels at home, and can do their best at our university. The diverse talents of our students and staff are a precious resource for our community and the engine of our future prosperity. Diversity of experiences and perspectives enriches our education, strengthens our research and increases our social impact. As a civic university, Hasselt University seeks to set a good example in the region in terms of diversity and inclusion. With our focus on justice and nondiscrimination, we are working together for a diverse and inclusive Hasselt University.

UHasselt does not accept any discrimination in terms of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, age, family situation or dependent children; disability; culture, religion/ideology; skin colour, ethnic origin; socio-economic background or situation.

Prof. dr. Anitha ETHIRAJAN


Prof. dr. ir. Koen VANDEWAL

Full professor