PhD Position in Biohybrid Bacterial Systems

ETH Zurich Department of Materials

PhD position in Biohybrid Bacterial Systems

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

We welcome applications to complete a doctoral training in Advanced Engineering with Living Materials (ALIVE) as part of the MaP Doctoral School hosted by the ETH Zurich Competence Center for Materials and Processes. The focus is on Biohybrid Muscles and Bioreactors for muscle tensioning.

Project background

The ALIVE Initiative of ETH Zurich aims to elucidate and apply the design principles of living systems as a basis for sustainable, intelligent, and resilient materials and technologies of the future. Our approach encompasses studying natural systems and developing biohybrid or biomimetic synthetic systems bridging across scales, from the nano to the macro and structural scale. ALIVE is organized into three interrelated project streams:

  • Actuated human joint organoid on chip for personalized health
  • Multiscale biohybrid tissues for robotics driven by applications in health
  • Living systems for carbon-capturing in self-aware infrastructure

Two participating professors from ETH Zurich act as co-advisors. Accordingly, doctoral students are expected to take advantage of both research groups' opportunities and actively seek cross-group collaborations. The MaP Doctoral School offers a wide range of activities like symposia, workshops, and lecture series, as well as the possibility for doctoral students to organize such formats. ETH ALIVE Doctoral Fellowships are an exciting opportunity, and admission is highly competitive. The fellows will be employed according to the regulations of ETH Zurich. The corresponding guidelines for doctoral education apply. Upon completing the doctorate, the fellows are awarded the title "Doctor of Sciences (Dr. sc. ETH Zurich)". more info about ETH Zurich doctorate

You will become an integral part of the ALIVE Biohybrid Project Stream. Furthermore, you would be physically based in the Laboratory for Soft Materials and Interfaces (D-MATL). Your adviser will be Prof. Lucio Isa, with support from with Dr. Eleonora Secchi (D-BAUG), and your co-adviser will be Prof. Robert Katzschmann (D-MAVT). Close collaborators on this PhD project (all within the ALIVE consortium) are Simone Schürle, Mustafa Khammash, Edoardo Mazza, and Jess Snedecker.

Job description

The thesis work would focus on:

  • engineering and fabrication of biohybrid systems comprising functional microparticles and motile bacteria
  • development of optimal design and motion control strategies (potentially via machine learning approaches)
  • testing in in-vitro models

You would, during the thesis, also get involved in the synthesis of functional microcapsules for targeted release, perform advanced optical microscopy measurements and experience a broad range of nanofabrication tools.

The output of the PhD thesis is going to be highly relevant as a model system for microrobots to move within the bio-hybrid muscular constructs targeted by the ALIVE project stream.

Your profile

You should:

  • Hold a Master's degree in a field relevant to the Biohybrid project stream: materials science, biology & biosystems science or (bio-)engineering.
  • Have an excellent track record and meet the general admission requirements for a doctorate at ETH Zurich
  • Have prior extensive experience in bacteria culture and, ideally, be highly proficient in engineering bacteria for targeted binding. 

Your workplace

We offer

ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity, and attractive offers and benefits.

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We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your application.

Please submit the following application documents using only the ETH online portal in a single merged PDF document, titled with your last name and initials as well as the application date (for example, 20230601_DoeJane_application) in the following order:

  1. Cover letter with a description of your research achievements and research interests
  2. Detailed CV
  3. Transcripts of all degrees (English)
  4. Names and contact information of at least three references
  5. Representative published research work (Papers, thesis if possible).

Further information about our group can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Josephine Baer, email (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.