Post-doctoral position in biomechanics

Université catholique de Louvain
June 19 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

A Post-doctoral position in biomechanics is open within the Institute of mechanics, materials and civil engineering at UCLouvain (Belgium). This 2-year (minimum) position is offered in the context of a multidisciplinary Concerted Research Action dealing with the numerical simulation of bird flight. Extensions beyond the initial 2-year duration are possible, and applications to individual fellowships will be encouraged and supported if both parties are demanding.

This position is to be filled from October 1, 2017. The position is fully funded and will involve a strongly interdisciplinary work between the involved departments at UCLouvain (Aerodynamics, Biomechanics and Control). Interactions (including scientific stays) with the international collaborating institutions: ETH Zurich, EPF Lausanne, U Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and UCLA, will be encouraged.


The Concerted Research Action “RevealFlight” (PIs: P. Chatelain, R. Ronsse, J. Hendrickx) aims at shedding light on the efficiency optimization mechanisms deployed by biological flyers, with a specific focus on migratory birds. The efficiency-seeking mechanisms will be sought through the numerical reproduction of flight that includes the morphology, the neuro-muscular configuration and the gait generation. This resulting gait then exploits aerodynamics at the scale of an individual (unsteady lift generation) and at the level of the flock (formation flight). This project thus proposes to synthesize the flight mechanics of birds into a unified framework, combining biomechanical, sensory, aerodynamic and social interaction models, in order to reproduce the flying gaits and the interactions within a flock.

A neuro-mechanical model of the birds will be developed, capturing bio-inspired principles both in the wing biomechanics (e.g. structure and compliance) and in its coordinated control (through e.g. a network of coordinated oscillators). The dynamics of this model will be solved by means a multibody solver and in turn, coupled to a massively parallel flow solver (an implementation of the Vortex Particle-Mesh method) in order to capture the bird's wake up to the scales of the flock. The study of self-organization phenomena and inter-bird interactions will begin on simple conceptual models, and be gradually extended to the comprehensive models developed during the project. It will aim at comparing the efficiency of flocks of selfish flyers with that of flocks in which collaboration takes place, whether implicitly or explicitly.


The successful candidate will be in charge of the tasks related to the neuro-musculo-mechanical modelling of the single agent (bird). More specifically, he/she will handle tasks related to (i) the design of the biomechanical modelling of the musculoskeletal structure of the bird; (ii) the design of the neural controller providing muscle activations; and (iii) the coupling between both. The nominee will also contribute to coupling this neuro-musculo-mechanical model with dedicated aerodynamic models, in collaboration with other researchers of the consortium.

We are thus seeking candidates with a PhD degree in (bio)mechanical engineering, biology or a related discipline, with a background in neuromuscoloskeletal modelling, mechanical simulation (e.g. multibody dynamics) and/or robotics. Good programming skills and/or experience in modelling are a plus. Good communication skills are further required in this project, due to its collaborative nature. Due to the scope of the project, scientific leadership and initiative are expected from applicants to this position.


  • a highly dynamic and multidisciplinary working environment in an international university town

  • a challenging and high-visibility research topic that involves intensive national and international collaborations

  • an implication in world-leading research groups in computational fluid dynamics, biomechanics and control, and an access to state-of-the-art modelling tools

  • competitive salary and social benefits


Your application should be sent by e-mail to, with “PostDoc position in Biomechanics” as subject. Application should include a motivation letter, full CV with photograph, list of publications, academic transcripts, and contact information of two references. Short-listed candidates will be contacted for a teleconference, or physical interview.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess