Vacancies - University of Twente

PhD position; Onset and optimal heat transfer in rotating convection

Job description

Are you fascinated by physics and interested in developing state-of-the-art fluid dynamics computer simulations to better understand real world problems? Are you ambitious and dynamic? Do you strive for excellence? We are looking for a PhD student to carry out state-of-the-art research on turbulent convection. Thermal convection plays a crucial role in natural and industrial settings, from astrophysical and geophysical flows to process engineering. In many of these processes, rotation plays an important role. The paradigmatic representation of thermal convection is Rayleigh–Bénard flow; a layer of fluid heated from below and cooled from above. The heat transport in such a fluid layer increases sharply when we rotate the system. This happens because of a process called Ekman pumping, due to which hot or cold fluid is pulled into vertically aligned, tornado like, vortices, which very effectively transport heat. For relatively low Rayleigh (dimensionless temperature difference between the plates), we understand this process well. However, preliminary results for higher Rayleigh, relevant for various of the above mentioned applications, reveal unexpected transitions between different turbulent regimes and a strong dependence on the geometry of the system. Both observations conflict with traditional understanding of rotating convection. High-fidelity numerical simulations are an ideal tool to improve our fundamental insight of such flows as these simulations allow us to visualize the flow and study important physical effects under controlled and reproducible conditions. In this PhD project, funded by an ERC starting grant, you will further develop and use state-of-the-art direct numerical simulations to study the effect of rotation on highly turbulent thermal convection. You will use high-fidelity simulations to figure out what physical mechanisms determine the under what conditions the heat transport in rotating thermal convection is optimal.


You will work in the Physics of Fluids group at the University of Twente (UT) in the Netherlands. The research in our group covers a variety of aspects in fluid mechanics. Our group focuses on understanding fundamental fluid physics phenomena using experiments, simulations, and theory. Our group is embedded in the Twente Max Planck Center, the J.M. Burgers Research Center for fluid mechanics, and the MESA+ and MIRA Institutes. Our group has access to several top supercomputers in Europe and the US. For further information, you are encouraged to view and to read our recent publications on the topic.

Your profile

You have a background in applied physics or mechanical engineering, or in a closely related discipline. You have strong communication skills, including fluency in written and spoken English. You are enthusiastic, and highly motivated to do a PhD. Programming experience in C or Fortran is a plus.

Our offer

We want you to play a key role in an ambitious project in an inspiring and stimulating international work environment.

    • We provide excellent mentorship and a stimulating, modern research environment with world-class research facilities.
    • You will have an employment contract for the duration of 4 years and can participate in all employee benefits the UT offers.
    • You will be embedded in a dynamic research group with colleagues working on similar topics.
    • Additionally, the UT is a green campus with excellent facilities and resources for professional and personal development.
    • You will follow a high-quality personalized educational program.
    • The research will result in a PhD thesis at the end of the employment period.
    • We strive for diversity and fairness in hiring.


Potential applicants are encouraged to apply to Dr. Richard Stevens (

Applications should include the following documents:

    • A motivation letter describing why you want to apply for this position.
    • Description of your research interests.
    • A detailed CV.
    • Academic transcripts from your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.
    • Email addresses of at least two references who are willing to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf.
    • An interview with a scientific presentation will be part of the interview process.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

Within the TNW Faculty (Faculty of Science & Technology) of the University of Twente some 700 staff members and 2000 students are involved in training and research on the interface of chemical technology, applied physics and biomedical technology. Fields of application include sustainable energy, process technology and materials science, nanotechnology and technical medicine. Research, which enjoys a high profile both at home and internationally, has been accommodated in the multidisciplinary research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute. The faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders.

PhD position; Onset and optimal heat transfer in rotating convection
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