PhD in Natural variation in goat milk caseins

Research / Academic
Do you want to use your passion for food science to carry out research on milk from individual goats? Are you willing to help our researchers to find answers to better understand natural variation in the composition of goat milk caseins and its influence on goat milk properties? Then this PhD vacancy in the Dairy Science and Technology team of the Food Quality and Design group may be interesting for you.

The main Dutch dairy goat breeds are Saanen and Toggenburger, which originate from Switzerland and are used for their high milk yields. Considering the popularity of goat milk products, surprisingly little is known about the casein fraction of goat milk and its functionality compared to what we know of bovine milk. This knowledge is essential to understand the functionalities of dairy products made from goat milk, such as heat stability of UHT milk or renneting behavior of cheese milk. Therefore, the main aim of the project is to determine variation in goat milk casein composition and casein micelle structure of the Dutch goat breeds and the effect of this variation on selected functionalities.

Your main tasks will be:
  • Designing and executing experiments to determine variation in casein composition, casein post-translational modifications and casein micelle structure in milk obtained from individual goats, using various analytical techniques such as HPLC, LC/MS based proteomics, light scattering and microscopic techniques;
  • designing and executing experiments to understand functionality of goat milk in relation to, for example, heat aggregation of proteins and UHT-milk shelf-life stability;
  • performing in-depth analyses of results and writing of high quality scientific papers.
This PhD project is supported by an industrial dairy partner. The goat milk farmers that are associated with this partner, are providing milk that is processed into a variety of products such as goat milk cheese, UHT milk and infant formula. You will cooperate with these parties to achieve the project objectives and obtain relevant input on your project. Furthermore, you are expected to effectively communicate with project stakeholders and present your results to the wider scientific community.

You are expected to complete a PhD dissertation within four years.


We are looking for a PhD with the following key qualifications:
  • A master degree or equivalent in the field of food science, biochemistry, physical chemistry or related field;
  • research experience in a laboratory setting (performing physical or chemical analyses, executing practical procedures), experience with protein related analyses is preferable;
  • knowledge of, and affinity with, dairy science and technology;
  • strong scientific writing skills (evident from your thesis and/or publications);
  • affinity with working in a multidisciplinary group in an international context;
  • excellent command of written and spoken English (a certificate of Proficiency in English must be provided).

Salary Benefits:

We offer you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month € 2.395,- in the first year rising up to € 3.061,- per month in the fourth year for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for the Wageningen University.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.
Work Hours:

38 hours per week