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Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Position - "Food processing and energy intake"

Zhejiang Gongshang University - School of Food Science and Biotechnology

About School of Food Science and Biotechnology, Zhejiang Gongshang University

Zhejiang Gongshang University (ZGU) is one of the earliest established higher education institutions in China. As one of the leading universities in the region, Zhejiang Gongshang University is highly regarded for its quality student training programs and research activities. The university currently has 25 colleges and schools and over 28,000 full-time students studying bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees across academic disciplines of social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. Zhejiang Gongshang University is located in the beautiful city of Hangzhou, which is well-connected to all main cities in the country by high-speed rail networks and roads and to major international destinations by air.

The School of Food Science and Biotechnology at Zhejiang Gongshang University is one of the top food science schools in the country. In the past few years, the school has made a major effort in redefining its strategy of food science research and student training. A number of research centres and groups have been established, successfully extending its research activities from conventional food engineering and technology investigations to a much wider areas of nutrition and health. The school is one of the founding members of the International University Consortium of Food Science & Nutrition (IUCoFSN), established in 2016 jointly with food science schools from the University of Leeds, Massey University, and Wageningen University. The School of Food Science and Biotechnology at Zhejiang Gongshang University has over 120 academic and supporting staff, including 35 full professors and 40 associate professors. Over 1,200 full-time students are currently studying degree courses in subject areas of Food Science and Engineering, Food Quality and Safety, Bioengineering, and Applied Chemistry at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 

The School has been recently awarded with a major government funding for a further expansion of its research capacities. As a part of this strategic expansion, the school is now seeking to appoint post-doctoral research fellows in the following research areas.

“Food processing and energy intake

One of the biggest nutritional problems in the world is obesity. The prevalence of obesity has surpassed the issue of undernutrition. The global prevalence of diabetes, which is strongly associated with obesity, doubled in the past 30 years. Prevalence of overweight and obesity vary greatly between countries with highest prevalence in the South Pacific and the USA, and lowest prevalence in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (Abarco-Gomez et al, 2017). The prevalence of obesity is also increasing in China.

The increasing prevalence of obesity and overweight is caused by changes in the food environment resulting in modifications of eating behaviour. In general, people consume too much animal source products, added sugar, saturated fats, refined grains and so called “highly processed foods” (Willet et al, 2019). The last few years there is also an increasing attention for the consumption of so-called “ultraprocessed” foods, and its association with the prevalence of obesity (Schnabel, et al 2019). The definition and usefulness of this concept is controversially debated (Gibney et al, 2017). However, in the context of this proposal, there is a strong societal and scientific debate on how “ultraprocessed” food lead to a higher energy intake and obesity (Hall et al, 2019).

The satiety literature shows that there are dramatic differences in the satiating capacity of foods. For most diets in the current food environment it is very easy to overeat. One of the most important properties of food that is related to overeating is the energy density of foods. In a recently published and heavily debated study it was observed that ultraprocessed foods lead to a higher energy intake and body weight than a diet of unprocessed foods similar in macronutrient content, sugar, salt, fat and palatability. One of the main differences between the ultraprocessed diet and the unprocessed diet was the observation that the ultraprocessed diet was consumed at a higher eating rate. This raises the important question what is the mechanism behind the obesogenic capacity of the ultraprocessed foods. Is it the processing of the food by itself, or does it work through a lower food oral processing time and a higher energy intake rate (kcal/min). The challenging question to address is: Can you design ultraprocessed foods that have a low energy intake rate?

The aim of this three-years post-doc research project is to study the effect of different ways of food processing (unprocessed, slow ultraprocessed and fast ultraprocessed foods) on oral processing behaviour and energy intake rate of these foods.

  • Develop and prepare different foods comparable in macronutrient composition and palatability, but differing in processing conditions (i.e. unprocessed, slow ultraprocessed foods, and fast ultraprocessed foods) by different ways of food processing.
  • Characterize the rheological, texture, tribological and physical-chemical properties of these foods. Rheological and mechanical properties of foods have recently been shown to be the main factor determining eating rate and hence energy rate. (Aguayo-Mendoza et al. 2019; May Wee et al. 2018)
  • Quantify oral processing behaviour of unprocessed, slow ultraprocessed foods, and fast ultraprocessed foods using video recordings and automated weighing to determine food oral processing time, mastication time, bite size, eating rate and energy intake rate.
  • Determine the effects of unprocessed, slow ultraprocessed and fast ultraprocessed diets in controlled ad libitum intervention studies on food and energy intake.


  • Planning, designing, execution and completion of the experiment works of the project.
  • Dissemination and communication of research achievements (i.e. participating in academic meetings and conferences, writing and publishing research papers).
  • Participating supervision of student projects at undergraduate, master, as well as PhD levels, and Participating in limited undergraduate teaching.
  • Participating in the management of the daily operation and safety of the research lab.

Qualification and requirements:

  • Candidates must be fluent in English as working language, received the PhD degree within 3 years.
  • Candidate should have a PhD in life science - preferably food science, or physics, chemistry, with strong mechanical background.
  • An international experience with peer-reviewed publications, experience of analytical research (HPLC, GCMS, FT-IR) and rheological analysis, a good mechanical knowledge and technical skills will be advantages for this project.
  • Suitable candidates will have a background in food processing, food rheological and texture studies, and expertise in analytical methods in food science.


  • University will provide an employee basic medical insurance and a commercial health insurance.
  • Enjoy the statutory national holidays and 25 days paid leave every year.

Location: Hangzhou - Zhejiang – China

Project Duration: 3 years

Salary:  At least £17500 per annum

Hours: Full Time

Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract


Prof. Kees de Graaf (Wageningen University, Visiting Professor of Zhejiang Gongshang University, China) and Prof. Pingfan Rao (Zhejiang Gongshang University)

Application Details:

Contact: Dr. Lijin Ke


Above positions are expected to begin in June 2020, or a date convenient to both parties. For more specific information about each position, candidates can contact responsible supervisor. To apply, candidates should send a CV, a cover letter, two references, PhD diploma and other documents to corresponding supervisor.

For general information about the university or school, interested candidates can contact Ms. Jingxuan Guo ( (School of Food Science and Biotechnology, Zhejiang Gongshang University, 18 Xuezheng Street, Xiasha Higher Education Zone, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310018, China).

For general information about Zhejiang Gongshang University, please visit and about the city of Hangzhou, please visit

Closing date: 29 February 2020.    

Location: Hangzhou - China
Salary: £17,500 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 16th January 2020
Closes: 29th February 2020
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