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PhD position Biomimetic Robotics and Biomechanics: Bird-Inspired Aerial Robot Design (1.0 FTE) (V23.0822)

Job description

Are you passionate about aerial robot design and biomechanics of flight? Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD position with David Lentink in the Biomimetics Group at Groningen. You will become part of a project in which our team studies how birds fly in turbulence by dynamically shape-shifting their body. In the project you will be responsible for translating bird biomechanical insights into your advanced biomimetic aerial robot that can fly like a bird.

PhD student research project: Study bird-inspired aerial robot design and control to develop a new flapping and morphing robot that flies in turbulence.

We seek a PhD candidate who is passionate about curiosity-driven research, designing bioinspired robots, and reading and writing broadly accessible multidisciplinary research papers about it. We are a social and dynamic research community with a fully equipped robotics research lab and makerspace for high-quality robotics research. In addition, the research team is studying the aerodynamics and biomechanics of bird flight in our lab facilities, which will inspire your robotics research. The research instrumentation is world-class and includes a Wind Tunnel, Automated Turbulence Generation System, 3D High-Speed Videography and Surface Imaging, Automated Motion Capture, Particle Image Velocimetry, Anemometers, Large Volume Stereo Fluoroscopy (XROMM), 6-axes Load cells among other instruments and setups that are available. Our robotics maker space includes 3D printers, a laser cutter and machining equipment complemented with robot flight testing resources and university machine shop support.

The PhD learning experience includes multidisciplinary experimental research, designing robots, and multidisciplinary modelling to corroborate data. Soft skills include team-based research, high-impact writing, visual & oral presentation, networking, and career development.

Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 34,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global centre of knowledge.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering is a highly collaborative research community that includes Engineers, Roboticists, Biomechanists and Organismal Biologists working together to achieve high-impact Biomimetics and Bioinspired Design research. The Biomimetics Group is part of the Energy and Sustainability Research Institute Groningen in which we pursue basic biological research and translate our findings to engineering applications.


We expect a MSc degree in Robotics, Aerospace, Mechanical, or an equivalent Engineering discipline such as Computer Science or Bioengineering, combined with RC airplane or drone experience.

  • excellent writing skills in English with demonstrated passion for scholarship: reading and writing
  • strong team player who also works efficiently independently
  • general robotics and mechatronics design, maker, and testing skills
  • passion for scientific questions and engineering innovation and curious about biomechanics
  • RC airplane/ drone making & flight-testing experience is a pre
  • the highest ethical research standards including animal welfare
  • the overall quality, research motivation and social skillset of the candidate are more important than the specific technical fit.


Conditions of employment

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth and final year for a full-time working week
  • a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
  • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
  • an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance
  • a position for four years; first, you will get a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years; prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training program is part of the agreement, and you will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

The PhD position is immediately available, and the position should be started by the candidate within a few months after winning the search.


Please submit:

  • a cover letter that clearly motivates why you apply for this position
  • a detailed curriculum vitae
  • contact details of three reference letter writers
  • up to three academic publications with a small PDF file size.

You may apply for this position until 11 March 11:59pm / before 12 Marchl 2024 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website). We will start selecting applicants to fill the position we receive before the closing date.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage:

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

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For information you can contact:

  • David Lentink, d.lentink

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.