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PhD Position in Emergent Dynamical Steady States of Active Polymer-Like Matter

Posted 16 May 2024
Work experience
1 to 3 years
Full-time / part-time
Job function
€2,770 - €3,539 per month
Degree level
Required languages
English (Fluent)
Dutch (Fluent)
31 May 2024 00:00

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Are you a highly motivated student with a strong interest in statistical mechanics and soft active matter? The group of Dr. Sara Jabbari Farouji at the Institute of Theoretical Physics and part of Computational Soft Matter Lab is seeking an excellent and ambitious PhD candidate to carry out interdisciplinary research on emergent collective dynamics of active polymer-like matter which combines analytical and computational methods.

Active matter is a young field of research which aims at understanding collective properties of non-equilibrium systems made of self-driven constituents; e.g. bird flocks or bacterial swarms in terms of interplay between self-drive and interactions. It has been found that some aspects of collective behavior can indeed be captured by models based on a minimal set of interaction rules, which is now at the heart of the research area of active matter.

For instance, the Vicsek model of self-propelled point-like particles that have alignment interactions with their neighbors reveals a dynamical transition from a disordered gas-like state to a flocking state in which particles collectively move in the same direction. However, many spectacular patterns of collective organization in real systems like collective behavior cellular tissues of entangled aggregates of worms cannot be captured by such minimal models. In these cases, the deformability of the constituent particles matters and should be considered in non-equilibrium modeling.

In this PhD research project, we aim to go beyond the proverbial spherical cow models of active matter to predict the remarkable collective properties of systems for which flexibility of self-driven units and interparticle interactions are jointly at play. You will focus on active polymer-like matter, paramount examples of which include molecular motor-driven chromosomal DNA and actin filaments and worms. You will combine theoretical and computational approaches from statistical physics of active matter and polymer physics to uncover the consequences of flexibility of active constituents on collective organization and locomotion of active polymer-like matter.

What are you going to do?

You are expected to carry out creative and fundamental research on collective behavior of active polymers combining analytical and computational approaches.

You will:

  • Perform Brownian dynamics of interacting active filaments;
  • Develop a new density functional theory for prediction of Isotropic-nematic transition in active filaments;
  • Write articles resulting in publications in peer reviewed international journals;
  • Take charge of coordinating the seminars of computational soft matter lab;
  • Attend group meetings and present your results in seminars, international workshops and conferences;
  • Take part in the teaching efforts, including supervision of Bachelor and Master students.

Your profile

You have:

  • A MSc degree in physics, applied mathematics or a closely related discipline;
  • A creative, curious, and self-driven nature with a genuine interest in interdisciplinary projects;
  • Background in theoretical and computational physics with good analytical and programming skills;
  • A willingness and capability to learn new skills and topics and to combine numerical simulations with theory, and link your results to experiments;
  • Very good written and oral communication skills in English.

Other skills, experiences, and documents that would benefit your application:

  • A strong background in statistical physics;
  • Previous experience in Soft Active Matter Physics;
  • Demonstrated experience with programming such as Python, C or C++ and molecular simulation software (LAMMPS, Hoomd-blue, etc.);
  • Team spirit to collaborate with other lab members;
  • Scientific publications if applicable.

Our offer

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). The preferred starting date is 1st of September 2024. This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and dependent on relevant experience, ranges between € 2,770 to € 3,539 (scale P). This does not include 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants.

Besides the salary and a vibrant and challenging environment at Science Park we offer you multiple fringe benefits:

  • 232 holiday hours per year (based on fulltime) and extra holidays between Christmas and 1 January;
  • multiple courses to follow from our Teaching and Learning Centre;
  • a complete educational program for PhD students;
  • multiple courses on topics such as time management, handling stress and an online learning platform with 100+ different courses;
  • 7 weeks birth leave (partner leave) with 100% salary;
  • partly paid parental leave;
  • a pension at ABP for which UvA pays two third part of the contribution;
  • the possibility to follow courses to learn Dutch;
  • help with housing for a studio or small apartment when you’re moving from abroad.

The University of Amsterdam is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Europe. With some 40,000 students, 6,000 staff, 3,000 PhD candidates, and an annual budget of more than 850 million euros, it is also one of Amsterdam’s biggest employers.
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