PhD: Theoretical & Experimental Physics of Cellular Interactions

Department/faculty: Applied Sciences
Level: Master degree
Working hours: 38 hours per week
Contract: 4 years
Salary: €2222 to €2840

Applied Sciences

The Faculty of Applied Sciences is the largest faculty of TU Delft, with around 550 scientists, a support staff of 250 and 1,800 students. The faculty conducts fundamental, application-oriented research and offers scientific education at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels. The faculty is active in the fields of Life and Health Science & Technology, Nanoscience, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Science & Technology, and Applied Physics.

Kavli Institute of Nanoscience is a leading international institute hosted by the TU Delft. It consists of the Departments of Quantum Nanoscience and Bionanoscience. The Bionanoscience Department, established in 2010, is dedicated to research at the interface between physics, applied physics, biophysics, nanoscience, synthetic biology, and cell biology. The department studies cellular complexity down to the molecular level, from both fundamental scientific and application-oriented points of view. The Quantum Nanoscience Department investigates mesoscopic physics and quantum computing.

Job description

We have a vacancy for a PhD student at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience to carry out a combined experimental-theoretical research project under joint supervision of Hyun Youk (experiment - synthetic biology of yeasts) and Yaroslav Blanter (theory - statistical mechanics). The candidate will be placed in the Departments of Bionanoscience and Quantum Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology. This PhD position will require use of theoretical physics (statistical mechanics), mathematical modelling, and quantitative experiments. We are looking for young researchers with proven excellence or a strong interest in experiments and interest in and good understanding of theory. Cells are information processing systems. A single cell, be it a microbe or a human cell, can remember past events, anticipate future events, continuously process information flowing from the outside world, and share information with other cells by communication. All of this is mediated by "cell signalling", which occurs inside a cell ("intracellular signalling") and between cells ("intercellular signalling"). To explore the full capabilities of a cell's information processing abilities, the student who is hired for this PhD position will use approaches from physics (e.g., statistical mechanics) and nascent tools of synthetic biology to design and build new forms of cell-to-cell signalling using yeast. The student will then analyse, using mathematical models, these cell-cell signalling systems.


A Masters degree in Physics, Biophysics, or a related quantitative discipline is required for this position. Experience with cell biology is not required. Since the Youk lab and the Blanter group take multidisciplinary approaches, the applicant should have an enthusiasm for multidisciplinary approaches to understanding, engineering, and inventing physics-inspired concepts for living cells. The primary requirements for this position are that you're a self-motivated student with a strong work ethic who wants to pursue a career in research, and that you're excited by biophysics and quantitative/physics approaches to understanding living systems. Good English skills are also required.

Conditions of employment

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount for health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. An International Children’s Centre offers child care and an international primary school. Dual Career Services offers support to accompanying partners. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.
As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment; an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor; and a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills. Please visit for more information.

Information and application

For more information about this position, please contact Hyun Youk, phone: +31 (0)15-2787485, e-mail: To apply, please send a detailed CV, a letter in English describing why you wants to join the Youk lab and the Blanter group, Bachelor's and Master's transcripts (grades), and names of three references who can supply a recommendation letter. Please e-mail your application by 30 November 2017 to
When applying for this position, please refer to vacancy number TNWBN17-035.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.


Applied Sciences
Master degree
Working hours
4 years
€2222 to €2840

Closing date
Nov. 30, 2017
Vacancy nr.


For more information about this job, please contact Hyun Youk, Assistant Professor.

T +31 (0)15-2787485

For more information about the application procedure, please contact Hyun Youk/Bionanoscience.