PhD positions: Bird flight research & Aerial robot design (2.0 FTE)

University of Groningen
Groningen, The Netherlands
A salary of € 2,443 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,122 gross per month.
Closing date
Jun 1, 2022

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Physical Sciences, Computer Sciences, Engineering
Position Type
Full Time
Job Type
PhD Fellowship
Organization Type

Are you passionate about discovering how animals fly to improve aerial robot design? Applications are invited for two fully funded PhD positions with Prof. David Lentink in the Biomimetics Group at Groningen. You will study how birds dynamically shape-shift their body to fly in turbulence as inspiration for developing advanced biomimetic aerial robots:

PhD 1 studies bird flight to unravel the aeromechanics and biomechanics of flapping bird wings and tails in a high turbulence wind tunnel.
PhD 2 studies bird-inspired aerial robot design and control to develop of a new flapping and morphing robot that flies in turbulence.

We seek PhD candidates who are passionate about curiosity-driven research, bioinspired design, and outstanding scholarship. We are a social and dynamic research community with a fully equipped animal and robotics research lab, aviaries, and makerspace for high-quality 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. Our robotics maker space includes 3D printers, a laser cutter and machining equipment complemented with robot flight testing resources and strong university machine shop support.
The PhD learning experience includes multidisciplinary experimental research, designing setups and robots, and multidisciplinary modelling to corroborate data. Soft skills include team-based research, high-impact writing, visual & oral presentation, networking, and career development.


MSc degree in Engineering, Robotics, Experimental Physics, Biomechanics or Computer Science / Life Sciences with an engineering skillset.

  • excellent writing skills in English with demonstrated passion for scholarship
  • strong team player who also works efficiently independently
  • passion for scientific questions and engineering innovation
  • robotics research PhD: General Maker and RC pilot experience is a pre
  • bird research PhD: General experience with animals is a pre
  • the highest ethical standards including animal welfare
  • the overall quality, research motivation and social skillset of the candidate are more important than the specific technical fit
  • applicants are welcome to apply for PhD position 1 or 2 or both. Please explain your preferences in the cover letter so we can discuss them during the interview and find the best fit together.


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 36,000 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

Conditions of employment

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

  • a salary of € 2,443 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,122 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 and 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 two PhD positions are immediately available:


Please send in the following PDF files:

  • cover letter
  • curriculum vitae
  • three academic publications with a small PDF file size.

You may apply by sending your application until 31 May 11:59pm / before 1 June 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website), please see:

We will start selecting applicants to fill both positions based on applications submitted before the deadline.

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:

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Prof. David Lentink,

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

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