VOILAb Postdoc Opportunities


Last Open Position, NOW CLOSED

Research Associate in Fluid Mechanics


Job Identification: 8830
Job Category: Academic
Posting Date: 26/10/2023, 08:35
Apply Before: 23/11/2023, 23:59
Job Schedule: Full time
Locations:  Faraday Building, Edinburgh, EH9 3DW, GB (N/A - Do not use)
Health and Safety Requirements: No key hazards identified for this post
Criminal Record Check: No criminal record check required
Contract Type: Fixed Term

School of Engineering, College of Science & Engineering
Institute for Energy Systems 
Grade, Salary Range:  UE07, £37,099.00 - £44,263.00
Line Manager: Professor Ignazio Maria Viola, i.m.viola@ed.ac.uk
Contract type, Hours per week: Fixed Term, 35 Hours Per Week
Fixed Term Contract Duration: Up To 24 Months
Number of posts: 1


A Research Associate position is available to contribute to the research on the fluid mechanics of small flyers within the Vortex Interaction Laboratory (VOILAb) at the University of Edinburgh. The project is funded by the European Research Council via the Consolidator Grant 2020 (H2020 ERC-2020-COG 101001499). The post holder will have specialist expertise in either computational or experimental fluid dynamics. The position is at UE07 and available on a fixed term basis for up to 24 months. 

This bio-inspired project aims to investigate the unsteady aerodynamics of centimetre-scale wings to underpin the development of flying sensors that remain airborne transported by the wind. In the next decade, distributed sensor network systems made of small flying sensors, from dust-scale to insect- scale, will enable a step change in monitoring natural disasters and remote areas. They will contribute to protecting the environment by providing data on the contamination of physical and biological systems and on the impact of human activities. To date, a key limitation of this technology is that small sensors can remain airborne only for a few tens of minutes. By contrast, some natural flyers such as the dandelion fruit, travel unpowered for days and hundreds of kilometres. Recent work led by Dr Nakayama and Prof. Viola, and published in Nature (https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0604-2), reveals that the dandelion adopts a highly porous wing to form a new fluid vortex that has never been observed before, the separated vortex ring. This five-year project aims to unveil the underlying fluid mechanics mechanisms that allow the dandelion to remain airborne scavenging wind energy. 

Read more on the Dandidrone project at https://voilab.eng.ed.ac.uk/dandidrone.

The post holder will join a team of Research Associates and PhD students working within the same project and will undertake either computational fluid dynamics simulations with OpenFOAM of free-falling bodies, or particle image velocimetry of free-falling bodies in a bespoke vertical wind tunnel.

Your skills and attributes for success:

  • Knowledgeable in, and passionate about, fluid mechanics
  • Experienced in computational or experimental fluid mechanics
  • Being strongly driven and self-motivated

Click here for a copy of the full job description 

As a valued member of our team you can expect:

An exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent and reward success. You will benefit from a competitive reward package and a wide range of staff benefits, which includes a generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts, family friendly initiatives, flexible working and much more. Access our staff benefits page for further information and use our reward calculator to find out the total value of pay and benefits provided.

The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality.

Please note that only the information within this file will be used by the Search Committee for shortlisting the candidates that will be invited for the interview. 

If invited for interview you will be required to evidence your right to work in the UK. Further information is available on our right to work webpages.

The University is able to sponsor the employment of international workers in this role. If successful, an international applicant requiring sponsorship to work in the UK will need to satisfy the UK Home Office’s English Language requirements and apply for and secure a Skilled Worker Visa.  

Notes on the Application:


Please attach to your application two PDF files including: 

  1. a cover letter detailing your motivation and why you think that your application fits the job description, the essential and the desirable criteria; 
  2. a CV including, between other items of your choice, a complete job history, a list of your academic qualifications, and a list and detailed description of any award; a full publication list with separated headings for: (i) peer-reviewed journal articles submitted, (ii) published or in press, (iii) peer-reviewed conference proceedings, (iv) other outputs. 


The cover letter and the CV must be two separate PDF files named as follows,

  1. [First Name][FAMILY NAME]_CL.pdf, 
  2. [First Name][FAMILY NAME]_CV.pdf.

For example: James Andrew Smith should upload a cover letter and a CV named as follows,

  1. JamesSMITH_CL.pdf,
  2. JamesSMITH_CV.pdf.


Only the information within the uploaded PDF with the cover letter and the CV will be used by the Search Committee for shortlisting the candidates that will be invited for the interview, and the Search Committee reserves the right not to consider applications where the file(s) are incorrectly named.

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The College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is one of the largest and highest-ranked STEM groupings in the UK. Headed by Professor Iain Gordon, CSE comprises seven Schools (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, GeoSciences, Informatics, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy) as well as a national supercomputing centre (the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) and the Bayes Centre for interdisciplinary data science and innovation. We extend beyond the University through many joint activities - for example we host the cross-Scotland DataLab innovation Centre, we are a founding partner in the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, and we are a partner in UK-wide collaborations including the Alan Turing Institute and the Rosalind Franklin Institute. Most Schools are located 2 miles south of the city centre at the King’s Buildings whilst Informatics, EPCC, Bayes and sections of GeoSciences are located in the University’s Central Area near George Square. The College has over 3,000 academic and support staff, and educates around 7,000 undergraduates, almost 1,500 taught postgraduates and more than 2,000 research students.