Switzerland : PhD Position in Microfluidics in large Deformation Media: Transport of Fluids in Trees

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The Chair of Building Physics of ETHZ uses advanced modeling and experimental methods to study the multiple physical aspects of porous materials and their interactions with fluids. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Earth and Environmental Sciences group is studying the physiology of trees under changing climate and developing mechanistic understanding of tree mortality during drought. We are offering a PhD Position – Microfluidics in large deformation media: transport of fluids in trees

Water/sap transport in plants is considered from a microfluidic point of view using advanced imaging techniques of natural or manufactured deformable cellular systems. In a tree, the xylem and the phloem form a continuous system from the roots to the leaves where the xylem (a dead tissue) transports water up and phloem (a living tissue) transports the sugary sap down. Flow in the xylem is thought to passively respond to changes in pressure gradients whereas, in the phloem, the plant can control flow actively by osmotic means. Climate change may impose severely different conditions on trees which may, or not, be able to cope by modifying their regulation of liquid flow. To understand how climate affects trees and forest distributions, we need to know how trees regulate liquid flow and how the xylem and phloem tissues interact. The project will consist of a multiscale experimental investigation of the changing geometry of the cellular structure and documentation of the liquid flow in these complex tissues, i.e. phloem and xylem. Advanced high resolution imaging techniques such as micro PIV, neutron tomography and synchroton X-ray nano/micro-tomography will be used. Advanced analysis methods include non-affine registration and computer microfluidics dynamics.


The ideal candidate has a Diploma or Master degree in Mechanical, Civil, Agricultural or Material Engineering, Bioengineering, Material Sciences, or equivalent, is a communicative scientist with a background in mass transport and fluid dynamic. Experience in imaging is an asset. Mastering of the English language is required.
The supervisor is Prof. Dr. Jan Carmeliet. The project includes joint affiliation with EMPA, Dübendorf and with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Sanna Sevanto. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Prof. Dr. Dominique Derome, e-mail: dominique.derome@empa.ch

We are looking forward to receiving your application including a CV, letter of interest and names and addresses of references online to: ETH Zurich, Mr. Matthias Steiger, Human Resources, 8092 Zurich.

Further Information

Application Deadline : 31 January 2014

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