PhD Candidate within Machine Learning in Microbial Bioprocesses

at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Published February 14, 2023
Location Trondheim, Norway
Category Machine Learning  
Job Type Scholarship  


About the position

The Department of Chemical Engineering has a vacancy for a PhD Candidate within the field of Machine Learning in Microbial Bioprocesses. The earliest start date for the position will be 1 August 2023.

The appointment has a duration of 3 years with the possibility of a further extension due to teaching duties (up to 1 year) in agreement with the Department.

For a position as a PhD Candidate, the goal is a completed doctoral education up to an obtained doctoral degree.

The Project

Our digital Microbial feedback Laboratory is coordinating a large EU project with cross-disciplinary collaboration with 16 academic- and industrial partners throughout Europe, and seeking skilled candidates motivated for a PhD position targeted towards the following area:

Reinforcement learning is one of the three machine learning disciplines. As a PhD Candidate, you will explore the possibility to control the activity, growth and processes inside bacteria and their interactions with the environment, using reinforcement learning and optimal control. The research combines modeling, simulation and most importantly novel real-time control experiments. This exciting new frontier has never been explored before and together with a large team you will have the opportunity to produce new molecules such as antibiotics by a novel method. At your disposition is a state-of-the-art laboratory with automatic robots and sophisticated analytical instrumentation.

Your supervisor is Professor Nadav Bar.

Duties of the position

  • Apply machine learning, Neural networks (ANNs), reinforcement learning and optimal control in Matlab and/or Python.
  • Develop real time control algorithm in Matlab to control microbial processes
  • Modelling the processes with ordinary differential equations and ANNs
  • The work involves about 70% development of algorithms and 30% laboratory testing of your theories and algorithms.
  • You have the option to extend the position with teaching duties of the course TKP 4195 Bioprocess Engineering

Required selection criteria

  • You must have a professionally relevant background in either control theory (with preference to optimal control), or machine learning, especially reinforcement learning. Your do not need to know biology or bacterial processes, you will get the necessary training. We can consider students graduate from Chemical Engineering disciplines, especiall process system engineering.
  • Your education must correspond to a five-year Norwegian degree program, where 120 credits are obtained at master's level
  • You must have a strong academic background from your previous studies and an average grade from the master's degree program, or equivalent education, which is equal to B or better compared with NTNU's grading scale. If you do not have letter grades from previous studies, you must have an equally good academic basis. If you have a weaker grade background, you may be assessed if you can document that you are particularly suitable for a PhD education.
  • Master's students can apply, but the master's degree must be obtained and documented by October 2023.
  • You must meet the requirements for admission to the faculty's doctoral program (
  • Knowledge in Matlab and/ or python is mandatory
  • Good written and oral English language skills

The appointment is to be made in accordance with Regulations on terms of employment for positions such as postdoctoral fellow, Phd candidate, research assistant and specialist candidate and Regulations concerning the degrees of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD) and Philosodophiae Doctor (PhD) in artistic research national guidelines for appointment as PhD, post doctor and research assistant 

Preferred selection criteria

  • Knowledge in reinforcement learning or/ and machine learning, or knowledge in optimal control (engineering cybernetics)
  • Knowledge in industrial bioprocess or microbial processes is advantageous
  • Structured in computer languages
  • Ability to lead a team in laboratory

Personal characteristics

  • High level of personal responsibility and initiative
  • Willingness to work independently as well as part of a team
  • Systematic and goal-oriented way of working

Emphasis will be placed on personal and interpersonal qualities.

We offer

Salary and conditions

As a PhD candidate (code 1017) you are normally paid from gross NOK 501 200 per annum before tax, depending on qualifications and seniority. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

The period of employment is 3 years with the possibility of a further 1 year extension with 25% teaching duties in agreement with the Department.

Appointment to a PhD position requires that you are admitted to the PhD programme in Chemical Engineering ( within three months of employment, and that you participate in an organized PhD programme during the employment period.

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to NTNU. After the appointment you must assume that there may be changes in the area of work.

The position is subject to external funding.

It is a prerequisite you can be present at and accessible to the institution daily.

About the application

The application and supporting documentation to be used as the basis for the assessment must be in English.

Publications and other scientific work must follow the application. Please note that your application will be considered based solely on information submitted by the application deadline. You must therefore ensure that your application clearly demonstrates how your skills and experience fulfil the criteria specified above.

The application must include:

  • Motivation letter (max 1 A4-page)
  • CV and certificates
  • Transcripts and diplomas for bachelor's and master's degrees. If you have not completed the master's degree, you must submit a confirmation that the master's thesis has been submitted.
  • A copy of the master's thesis. If you recently have submitted your master's thesis, you can attach a draft of the thesis. Documentation of a completed master's degree must be presented before taking up the position.
  • Name and contact information of three referees
  • If you have publications or other relevant research work

If all, or parts, of your education has been taken abroad, we also ask you to attach documentation of the scope and quality of your entire education, both bachelor's and master's education, in addition to other higher education. Description of the documentation required can be found here. If you already have a statement from NOKUT, please attach this as well.

We will take joint work into account. If it is difficult to identify your efforts in the joint work, you must enclose a short description of your participation.

In the evaluation of which candidate is best qualified, emphasis will be placed on education, experience and personal and interpersonal qualities. Motivation, ambitions, and potential will also count in the assessment of the candidates.

NTNU is committed to following evaluation criteria for research quality according to The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment - DORA.

General information

Working at NTNU

NTNU believes that inclusion and diversity is our strength. We want to recruit people with different competencies, educational backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives to contribute to solving our social responsibilities within education and research. We will facilitate for our employees’ needs.

NTNU is working actively to increase the number of women employed in scientific positions and has a number of resources to promote equality.

The city of Trondheim is a modern European city with a rich cultural scene. Trondheim is the innovation capital of Norway with a population of 200,000. The Norwegian welfare state, including healthcare, schools, kindergartens and overall equality, is probably the best of its kind in the world. Professional subsidized day-care for children is easily available. Furthermore, Trondheim offers great opportunities for education (including international schools) and possibilities to enjoy nature, culture and family life and has low crime rates and clean air quality.

As an employee at NTNU, you must at all times adhere to the changes that the development in the subject entails and the organizational changes that are adopted.

A public list of applicants with name, age, job title and municipality of residence is prepared after the application deadline. If you want to reserve yourself from entry on the public applicant list, this must be justified. Assessment will be made in accordance with current legislation. You will be notified if the reservation is not accepted.

If you have any questions about the position, please contact Professor Nadav Bar, email

If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact HR Advisor Nina Sandberg, e-mail:

If you think this looks interesting and in line with your qualifications, please submit your application electronically via with your CV, diplomas and certificates attached. Applications submitted elsewhere will not be considered. Upon request, you must be able to obtain certified copies of your documentation.

Application deadline: 03.03.2023

NTNU - knowledge for a better world

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) creates knowledge for a better world and solutions that can change everyday life.

Department of Chemical Engineering 

We take chemistry from laboratory scale to industrial production. This demands a wide range of knowledge, from molecular processes and nanotechnology to building and operation of large processing plants. We educate graduates for some of Norway's most important industries. The Department of Chemical Engineering is one of eight departments in the Faculty of Natural Sciences.

Deadline 3rd March 2023
Employer NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Municipality Trondheim
Scope Fulltime
Duration Temporary
Place of service Gløshaugen, Trondheim