Contact: Prof. Jef Focant



PhD Position (m/f) – 1

PhD Researcher

University of Liège

Vacancy for highly motivated PhD Researcher: “Definition and rapid experimental determination of the exploitation of orthogonality in multi- dimensional separation spaces”

For a multidisciplinary project in collaboration with the University of Brussels, Ghent University and the University of Liège focusing on Mining Chemical Data in Complex Samples, the Organic and Biological Analytical Chemistry (OBiAChem) group of the Molecular Systems (MolSys) Research Unit of the Chemistry Department at ULiege is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate.

The research group of the PhD promoter Prof. Jean-François (Jef) Focant is conducting research in the field of method development for separation and identification of (semi)volatile molecules. The expertise is mainly concentrated on the hyphenation of comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC) to all types of mass spectrometric (MS) analyzers. The group is recognized as a leader in offering GCxGC-MS based solutions to practical separation science challenges in various fields of applications (medical, forensics, metabolomics, volatilomics, petroleomics, …). These method developments, including data reduction and processing strategies are backed up by a number of fundamental studies performed in the group as well. In the framework of this EOS consortium, the PhD research will be co-promoted by Prof. Frederic Lynen of the Separation Science Group at Ghent University.


The starting hypothesis of this PhD is that the highest orthogonality level does not always correlate with the best use of the multi-dimensional separation space and that better descriptions of the latter are needed. Both the problem of orthogonality definition as well as the experimental determination of orthogonality will be tackled. Statistical analyses will be carried out on large sets of phase combinations to provide comparison to other orthogonality metrics. A separation dispersion calculation algorithm approach will be considered for separation optimization in GC×GC. A projection method, based on linear retention indices calculated for complex test mixtures, will be evaluated to simulate the 2D structuration of the GC×GC chromatogram. The final aim will be to incorporate our findings into earlier reported conditions for near-theoretical maximum in peak capacity gain. In parallel, the student will, in collaboration EOS partners, also work on image recognition of the spatial distribution and orthogonality quality of multi-dimensional chromatograms.


The candidate ideally has a Master in Chemistry, Chemical(bio)-engineering, Bio-informatics, or Engineering, with a strong interest in analytical chemistry and computer science. The candidate is familiar with chromatography and mass spectrometry as well as the management, analysis and interpretation of large data sets using statistical tools. Candidates must be proficient in oral and written English, must have excellent communication skills, multi-tasking skills, and be team-oriented, proactive and results driven. The candidate will work as a member of a large research project that will involve frequent interactions with external researchers.

The position can start immediately. Interested candidates should send their CV and a motivation letter to Prof Jef Focant at, referring to the EOS PhD position.


We offer a PhD position (4 year contract) in a stimulating environment at a top European university in a well-equipped, state-of-the-art, experienced and internationally oriented research unit. You will be based at the Department of Chemistry at the Sart-Tilman Campus in Liege.