Training a New generation of Researchers in Offshore Seaweed Aquaculture to Produce High-value Chemicals - SeaChem

DC4 position is taken by Caya de Leeuw van Weenen


Project Title: Environmental Monitoring for the algae and Condition monitoring for the structures (WP1)

Host Institution: Institut de la Corrosion (IC)

Country: France

Supervisor: Nicolas Larché (PhD promoter – IC), Raf Dewil (KU Leuven)

Objectives: To develop new monitoring technologies for material and pre-existing structures as well as seaweed cultivation/harvesting structures

DC 4 will focus on advancing monitoring technologies and capabilities for both for material conditions and environmental monitoring on the structures and seaweed itself, and at the same time to increase the data analysis speed and prediction. The monitoring science development will focus on increasing capabilities to both follow and predict materials conditions and environment specific characteristics. Some examples could be the marine organism growing on structural devices “detrimental fouling” and in the seaweed collectors itself “cultivated fouling”. Among others the monitoring techniques to be explored and developed will be based on image analysis, environmental sensors and also on biomarkers such as e-DNA analysis. The obtained information can then be used in the probabilistic analysis for go/no-go decisions on O&M activities and to define optimal conditions for algae cultivation. The deterioration of materials and fouling/algae formation are related to the environment (pH, salinity, temperature etc) which means that DC4 will also gather data on environmental indicators including eDNA, to understand the environment that nurture the seaweed production that will contribute to the European and International Ocean Governance (IOG) ambitions for our oceans to be clean and healthy, resilient, productive and understood. The DC will share data with the HZS in charge of field mapping of the corrosion (Image of structures and algae) and results from water sampling analyses. The eDNA analysis will be combined with image of algae cultivation/growth rate/ to predict optimal environmental envelope for seaweed cultivation (using one or several biomarkers).

Expected Results: Novel monitoring technologies involved in the aquaculture environment to predict the optimal environmental envelope for seaweed cultivation

Enrolment in Doctoral degree(s): KU Leuven, Arenberg Doctoral School of Science, Engineering and Technology

Planned secondments:

Host: KU Leuven, Supervisor: Raf Dewil, Timing: M19-20, Length: 2 months, Purpose: training on extraction methodologies for the high-value seaweed products

Host: RISE, Supervisor: Emiliano Pinori, Timing: M26-33, Length: 8 months, Purpose: practical and theoretical training eDNA analysis as a biomarker for  novel monitoring techniques

Candidate requirements: 

  • You hold a master’s degree in (bio)chemical engineering, bioscience engineering, biology, environmental engineering or a related field and you thrive in a multidisciplinary research environment.
  • You have a solid knowledge material-environment interactions and environmental sampling.
  • You are ambitious, well organized and have excellent communication skills.
  • You speak and write fluent English and have the ability to work effectively and collaboratively.
  • You are an enthusiastic and motivated person, ready to participate in personal training, international travel and public awareness activities.
  • You have demonstrated your commitment to high quality research.


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