Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

Funded PhD position; in Optical Insect Identification Based on Wingbeat Signatures; within Department of Biosystems; at KU Leuven; in Belgium

(Ref. BAP-2017-608)

Occupation : Full-time
Period : Fixed-term contract extendable
Place : Leuven
Apply no later than : November 30, 2017

In the context of a large multi-partner research project, the MeBioS Biophotonics group has a


The MeBioS Biophotonics group at the KU Leuven Department of Biosystems investigates the physical properties of biological materials to develop new technologies for the agro-food chain. The fundamental research activities focus on measurement of the optical properties and exploitation of this information to develop novel sensor technologies. In our applied research these techniques are combined with advanced statistical techniques for quality assessment and optimization of agro-food products.

Website unit


Recent studies show that worldwide about 15% of crops are lost due to pest insects.  Besides agriculture, the rapid identification of harmful insects is also of great importance for preventing the spread of human diseases such as malaria and zika. A sensor system that allows for the rapid identification of flying insects is currently lacking, and identification of insects is mainly based on counting insects on specialized traps. This procedure is subjective and time consuming. As a result, it is only performed on a weekly basis, and on a limited number of fields.  Therefore, a rapid system for insect detection would be highly valuable.

Recently, it was shown that flying insects can be identified based on their wingbeat characteristics.  A first aim of the PhD research is to develop this concept into a sensor which can be used at farm level.  The second aim of the PhD is to develop proper classification algorithms based on the optical wingbeat signatures.  The third aim is to test the developed system in the field.  For those field trials, we will focus on Drosophila suzukii, a recent pest that hits the fruit production in Europe, and Napomyza cichorii, a pest insect causing important losses in the Belgian Endive sector.


To perform this application-oriented research, the MeBioS Biophotonics group is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate. Do you hold a master in (bioscience) engineering, optical engineering, or physics? Do you have a creative, critical, analytical and innovative mindset? Do you have excellent oral and written communication skills in English? Then you may be the perfect candidate to join our team.  Experience with optical setup building and/or statistics is a plus.


We offer a full-time PhD position for 1 year. After positive evaluation, the contract can be extended to 4 years.

Excellent guidance by our young, dynamic and multidisciplinary team

State of the art research infrastructure.

A challenging job in a young, dynamic environment.

High level scientific training at a top-ranked university.

Being part of a world-class research group.

Remuneration according to the KU Leuven salary scales (


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Wouter Saeys, tel.: +32 16 32 85 27, mail: or Dr. Bart De Ketelaere, tel.: +32 16 32 85 93, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than November 30, 2017 via the online application tool


Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Apply Now