Active matter in complex environments


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Active matter in complex environments

4th October 2023 - 30th November 2023

Type: PhD position
Start: 2024
Duration: 4 years
Location: Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Group: Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter
Supervisor: Asst. Prof. Dr. Uddalok Sen (Physics of Soft Matter lab)
Biological fluidic environments are highly complex and messy. They are usually non-Newtonian,
and often heterogeneous and anisotropic [1]. Swimming of active microorganisms in such complex
environments dates back to the earliest days of biological evolution. An understanding of such
swimming will provide one of the keys to unravel a fundamental question in evolutionary biology:
what are the origins of multicellularity? [2]. Confining boundaries, either rigid or deformable, add yet
another level of complexity to understanding the physics of swimming microorganisms. Advanced
experimental, computational, and analytical techniques have recently allowed scientists to gain some
insight into this interdisciplinary problem at the confluence of physics, applied mathematics, and
biology. However, there are several fundamental questions related to the influence of the complexity of
the fluid and the confinement on the swimming behavior of microorganisms that are still unanswered.

We are looking for a highly motivated and skilled PhD candidate who will experimentally investigate the fundamentals of swimming active micoorganisms in complex environments under various
degrees of confinement. You will use state-of-the-art microscopic imaging systems to observe the
motile behavior of one (or multiple) biological (and/or synthetic) microswimmers in non-Newtonian
fluids in the presence of a rigid (or deformable) confinement. The experiments will be complemented
by theoretical and/or numerical modeling. The project represents a paradigm shift in understanding the motility of microorganisms in realistic complex environments, and may provide fundamental
understanding of the (bio)physical principles underpinning the origins of multicellularity.

Your profile:
– A successfully completed MSc (or equivalent) degree in (applied) physics, molecular life sciences, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, applied mathematics, or in a closely related discipline.
– Experimental experience, fundamental knowledge of fluid dynamics, and experience in image and data analysis are required.
– You have strong communication skills, including fluency in spoken and written (scientific and non-scientific) English.
– You have strong analytical capabilities.
– You are proactive in coming up with innovative solutions to experimental challenges.

Your responsibilities:
– To design and perform experiments on active microswimmers in complex fluids.
– To discuss and disseminate results among peers, the scientific community, and the broader
society in general.
– To collaborate with colleagues having complementary expertise.
– To supervise bachelor and master students.


Our offer:
– We want you to play a key role in an ambitious project in an inspiring and stimulating international work environment.
– We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating, modern research environment with world-class research facilities.
– You will have an employment contract for the duration of 4 years, and can participate in all employee benefits the university offers.
– You will be embedded in a dynamic research group with colleagues working on similar topics.
– Additionally, Wageningen University and Research is a green campus with excellent facilities and resources for professional and personal development, and offers a wide variety of sports facilities.
– You will follow a high-quality personalized educational program.
– The research will result in a PhD thesis at the end of the employment period.
– We strive for diversity and fairness in hiring.
Applications should provide:
– A motivational letter (1 page max) describing why you want to apply for this precise position,
including your research interests/experience and how they connect to this position.
– A detailed CV.
– Academic transcripts from your bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
– Name and email addresses of at least two visible references who are willing to send a letter of
recommendation on your behalf.
– An interview with a scientific presentation on your previous work will be part of the interview
Potential applicants are encouraged to apply to Asst. Prof. Uddalok Sen at, or here: PhD position in ‘Active matter in complex environments’ – WUR

Research Gate


4th October 2023 @ 8:00 am
30th November 2023 @ 5:00 pm
Research Gate