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Doctoral Candidate Vacancies

Fostering a new generation of early-stage researchers (ESRs) able to operate at the interface between scientific disciplines, sectors and social actors, is key to spur innovative practices and will aid in overcoming the barriers to implementation of bioinspiration in the design process.
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Overview of the bioinspiration process showing the various steps and the role of each doctoral candidate in the project.

Inserts adapted from Brooks et al., 2018 Plos One; Sanderson et al., 2016 Nature Communications


Doctoral Candidate 1

Towards a rapid and efficient pipeline for the digitization of natural history specimens for bioinspired design: An integrated tomographic, additive manufacturing, and modelling-based approach

Objectives: The innovation potential of bioinspiration relates directly to the availability of 3D morphological data in a format suited for computer modelling and simulations or additive manufacturing processes. Generating highquality 3D reconstructions of complex biological material has been prohibitively difficult. DC 1 will develop and optimise standardised methodologies and quality criteria for micro-computed tomography and their subsequent translation to parametrised CAD for efficient usage in R&D of bioinspired filter systems.

Host Institution: Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Secondments: Hochschule Bremen, Germany (HSB; 5 months); Fraunhofer IWS, Germany (FHIWS; 5 months)

Application OPEN till
29 February 2024

Doctoral Candidate 2

Tongue and beak filtration in dabbling ducks

Objectives: Comparing relationships between ecological and functional-morphological variation across species is a powerful tool to identify the main traits that evolved in response to a particular biological problem. In cooperation with DC 1, the three-dimensional morphology and interspecific variability will be quantified for the filtration structures in dabbling ducks and their close relatives (Anatidae; maxillary and mandibular lamellae), and
in suspension-feeding devil rays (Mobulidae; branchial filter lobes). Using the gathered data, DC 2 will investigate how providing practitioners with an evolutionary context can facilitate the development of technological frameworks based on form-function relationships in nature

Host Institution: Muséum National Histoire Naturelle, France

Secondments: Stellenbosch University, South Africa (SU; 6 months); Technische Hochschule Deggendorf, Germany (THD; 2 months); Impactvista, Belgium (2 months)   

Application Closed

Doctoral Candidate 3

Towards a symbiotic toolset for bioinspiration


Objectives: The tool-based methods currently available to aspiring practitioners of bioinspiration are developed from an engineering perspective often with little input from biology or with the objective of addressing environmental sustainability. DC 3 will (1) conduct a theoretical and empirical analysis of existing tools to identify its principal characteristics, advantages and drawbacks and (2) develop means to reconciliate these existing toolbased methods and biology, by integrating biological concepts and processes (in cooperation with DC 2), and investigate how tool-based methods can be developed to increase the impact of bioinspiration on sustainable innovation with DC 8.

Host Institution: Technische Hochschule Deggendorf, Germany

Secondments: Functional Morphology Group, University of Antwerp, Belgium (UA; 4 months); BiomimicryNL, The Netherlands (4 months)

Application Closed

Doctoral Candidate 4

Filter-feeding kinematics and hydrodynamics in ducks and paddlefish

Objectives: Intra-oral water flows and cranial kinematics of ducks and paddlefish during filter feeding will be analysed using newly developed approaches combining biplanar high-speed x-ray videography and x-ray particle tracking to visualise 3D water flows in vivo. This will allow us advance our fundamental knowledge on in vivo functioning of promising model systems for bioinspired filtration. Complementing the work of DCs 6 and 7, the DC 4 will assess the manufacturing options for articulated structures to add bioinspired backwash in filter
prototypes and experimentally validate the results by means of particle image velocimetry (PIV).

Host Institution: University of Antwerp, Belgium

Secondments: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands (RUG; 5 months); Fraunhofer IWS, Germany (FHIWS; 5 months)

Application Closed

Doctoral Candidate 5

Computational simulation of the hydrodynamics of crossflow filtration in biological systems and optimisation of bio-inspired designs

Objectives: Gaining fundamental insight into the hydrodynamic mechanisms and the influence of filter
morphology and flow characteristics on crossflow filtration efficiency, minimal particle size, and filtration energetics through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and software optimisation to used CFD coupled with Discrete Element Simulations (DEM-CFD). The analysis scope ranges from geometric sensitivity analyses of 2D and 3D models of ray filter lobes, over full mouth cavities of paddlefish, to pulsatile crossflows over bird beak lamellae.

Host Institution: Hochschule Bremen, Germany

Secondments: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands (RUG; 3 months); Mpacts, Belgium ( 8 months)

Application Closed

Doctoral Candidate 6

Experimental evaluation of filtration performance and hydrodynamics of 3D-printed bioinspired prototypes


Objectives: Physical prototypes of biomimetic filters will be evaluated for their filtration performance. The
analysis will start with a study on ricochet-filtration in manta ray-inspired designs based on existing schematics. Their efficiency will be quantified in terms of (1) particle concentration and sizes in filtrate versus unfiltered streams, (2) flow energy demands, and (3) their performance in single-pass configurations. Together with results from DC 5, design improvements will be implemented and evaluated. Flow visualization on physical models of
the other animal taxa, cross-step filtrating paddlefish and pulsatile crossflow filtrating ducks, will be performed to validate computational models of DC 5, and to be integrated with the results of DC 4 to uncover the biomechanical principles involved.

Host Institution: University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Secondments: Hochschule Bremen, Germany (HSB; 5 months); Fraunhofer IWS, Germany (FHIWS; 6 months)

Application Closed

Doctoral Candidate 7

Integration of additive manufacturing capabilities in the bioinspiration design process

Objectives: Functional performance of biological structures is limited by scale dimensions and material characteristics. Evaluation of the effects of changes in these parameters by means of additive manufacturing (AM) technologies is crucial for the success of the bioinspiration transfer process. DC 7 will (1) experimentally validate the performance of structures manufactured by different AM methods, based on the models obtained by DC 1 and (2) explore the opportunities that additive manufacturing offers for sustainable design, and to what extent additive manufacturing can support design for a circular economy.

Host Institution: Fraunhofer IWS, Germany

Secondments: Product Development Research Group, University of Antwerp, Belgium (UA; 6 months); University of Groningen, The Netherlands (RUG; 4 months)

Application Closed


Doctoral Candidate 8

Design for Nature: using bioinspired design to support society towards more sustainability

Objectives: Investigating how nature can be used to design products with minimal impact on the environment, from a technology-driven and human-centred perspective: (1) how can bioinspiration be used to convince/nudge users towards more sustainable behaviour?; (2) analyse the aesthetics of nature to extend product lifetime and care; (3) how can ideas from nature be used to (technologically) facilitate users towards increased sustainability while executing tasks. The Fibio filtering product30 will be used as a basis for the experimentation in a design inclusive research approach.

Host Institution: University of Antwerp, Belgium

Secondments: Impactvista, Belgium (5 months);

BiomimicryNL, The Netherlands (5 months)

Application Closed
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Doctoral Candidate 9

Setting the stage for bioinspired innovation in industry

Objectives: Identify the opportunities for, and obstacles to (e.g., perception, cost-risks) the application of bioinspiration in sustainable innovations. Industrial sector perceptions in the context of bioinspired implementation will be analysed to identify and discuss the implementation challenges. This will be done by (1) identifying the perceptions of company members about bioinspiration, (2) comparing the perception of
respondents from different industries and with different experience in bioinspiration and (3) analysing patent applications and comparing these to the survey results. In addition, a comparative product sustainability assessment will be conducted of traditional and bioinspired filtration products.

Host Institution: Impactvista, Belgium

Secondments: Product Development Research Group, University of Antwerp, Belgium (UA-PD; 7 months);Technische Hochschule Deggendorf, Germany (THD; 3 months)

Application Closed
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