Tuur Mertens

Nationality: Belgian
Age: 29


Topic of your PhD work: Strategies to Reduce the Iron Intake During the Brewing Process with respect to Flavour Stability

Two universities you will be enrolled to:

University 1 (employer):
Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
University 2:
KU Leuven, Belgium

Name of supervisor 1:
prof. Frank-Jurgen Methner
Name of supervisor 2:
prof. Luc De Cooman

Education background:

University Degree: Master Of Science In Bioscience Engineering Technology (Food Industry) – University Of Ghent (Belgium) – 2015-2016 – GPA: Cum Laude
University Degree: Bachelor Of Science In Bioscience Engineering Technology (Food Industry) – University Of Ghent (Belgium) – 2012-2015 – GPA: Cum Fructu
Academic Education: Bachelor Of Science In Bioscience Engineering – University Of Ghent (Belgium) – 2009-2012
Secondary Degree: Biotechnical Sciences – Scheppersinstitute Wetteren (Belgium) – 2003-2009 – GPA: Magna Cum Laude
Field of study for your BSc:
Bachelor of Science in Bioscience Engineering Technology
University of your BSc: Ghent University, Belgium
Field of study for your MSc:
Master of Science in Bioscience Engineering Technology
Topic of your MSc:
Food Industry
University of your MSc: Ghent University, Belgium

Short description of your MSc work:

Title: Optimizing analysis of (modified) Fusarium mycotoxins in diverse samples from the brewing process


  • Multimycotoxin analysis of both the liquid and the solid fractions of the various beer brewing samples
  • Assessment of the impact of the beer brewing processes on the various Fusarium mycotoxins and their abundance
  • Optimization of the existing methodology
  • Range of analytical techniques: LC-MS/MS (trace analysis), extraction and purification of mycotoxins in grain and beer samples
Why did you decide to apply for the EJDFoodSci?

Ever since I was little, I have been a fan of conducting research. During my master’s thesis, even though there were hardships, I discovered that I genuinely enjoyed doing science with a hands-on mentality and that I wanted to pursue a PhD. I stumbled upon this project and fell in love with it. It offered a golden mix of science, brewing, training, study and traveling. I want my research to help make industrial businesses more ecological, more efficient, whilst still maintaining a high product quality.

Please list top 5 things you find most attractive in this project?

1. The EJD program includes 500 hours of training and these courses are given across the various universities of the project. This forms a great way to learn about and experience different countries and how they approach certain topics.
2. Because of its international aspect, news and project findings can circulate quickly, which is an important aspect of scientific research.
3. Because of the training, we (as young scientists) are prepped towards a future career in the (brewing) industry, which is my goal in the long run. In this aspect, it kind of distinguishes itself from other PhDs.
4. The general subject (beer & brewing) is of course a matter that can count on a high public interest. It is nice to be able to talk about your work and especially if people are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
5. I like that the EJDFoodSci project attaches importance to the communication of the project to the wide public and the scientific society, which they do through many activities like: web page, fan page, twitter account, newsletter, printed folders, etc.

Please list top 3 things in your character that you think are crucial to be successful in this project?

1. I have a fairly good knowledge about beer and the beer brewing process from my education and my master’s thesis. In my opinion, my engineering background allows me to take on problems in an efficient way as well.
2. I am analytical experienced: I previously worked as a Lab Technician in a Pharmaceutical Fine Chemical company, where I learned to use various analytical techniques and methods.
3. I enjoy conducting research and I like to write. I still believe the most important quality is loving what you do.

How did you find the whole process of recruitment, how did you feel during the evaluation, interviews, etc.?

The whole process of recruitment was a very exciting one. The fact that the competition was very high (with a total number of 240 participants) made it extra intriguing. Every step of the way felt like an achievement, which it was. To eventually receive the news that I had been accepted was a thrilling experience. Although nerve-racking, the interviews themselves were a great way to learn more about the project and to meet the passionate team behind it.

What did you think/how did you feel when you received the letter informing that you were accepted for the ESR position?

When I saw that I had mail from the EJDFoodSci Project, my heart was nearly pounding out of my chest. This was it, the big moment: would I be accepted or would I have to pack my proverbial bags. When I read that I had been offered the ESR6 position, I felt a combination of great excitement and relief. Excitement to be able to work in i.a. Berlin for three years, on an amazing project with amazing people. Relief that my efforts had paid off and that I didn’t have to go through the disappointment of not being able to be a part of this great opportunity.

What do you think will be the most challenging thing in the EJDFoodSci?

It is hard to make accurate predictions for a three-year project. I am well aware that research comes with its ups and downs, that is part of the deal. What I can say is that the first major challenge I’m currently facing is to get everything settled for my relocation in one month’s time: finding an apartment, a way to move my stuff, filling in all the necessary paper work, etc. I think that leaving behind my family and friends will be a big challenge as well. Especially since I recently became godfather of my sister’s newborn son.

How do you imagine yourself in year 2020, when the project is over? What do you think you will do in the future?

After I graduated, people asked me what I wanted to do in life. As for my career, It was my dream/ambition to either doctorate or work in/for a brewery. As this project sort of combines both these passions, I hope it is an ideal stepping stone for me to end up in the brewing industry after completion of the project.

What are your hobbies, what you like doing in your free time?

I have a lot of interests, so in my free time I’m always keeping myself busy. I like to draw, write, read books and comics, go to concerts, discover new places, have a beer with friends, explore nature, ride my unicycle, watch a movie, eat food, play a game, stare out of the window, have a philosophical conversation with likeminded, have a nonsense conversation an hour later, enjoy life, be kind to people, not do the dishes, laugh, etc.