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PhD opening: computer modeling of spinal cord electrical properties and neuronal networks organization for neuro-modulation technologies

Job description

Are you passionate about developing neuro-technologies for movement restoration? Are you interested in joining an international team working at the frontiers of neurophysiology, biomechanics and robotics? The Neuro-Mechanical Modeling and Engineering Lab ( is seeking for a creative and outstanding PhD candidate to work within the newly funded EU ERC project INTERACT.

The ERC project: The aim is to develop a new class of data-driven numerical models that can capture an individual's neuromuscular anatomy as well as how it changes over time. These models will be used to establish new closed-loop control methods for robotic exoskeletons and spinal cord stimulators. This will enable electroceutical and mechatronic devices to become a natural extension of the human body by operating and co-adapting in concert with the biological structures within.

The PhD opening: Neuro-modulation technologies that interact directly with spinal neural circuitries have the potential to improve the ability of moving following injury. Despite advances, there is lack of basic knowledge on how the human neuromuscular system responds and adapts to electrical stimulation across time scales.

Your tasks will be:

  • To develop finite-element models of spinal cord electrical properties.
  • To develop biophysical models of spinal neurons and their geometrical organization.
  • To validate these models’ ability of capturing spinal neuron response to electrical stimuli via experimental techniques including neuro-stimulation, high-density EMG decomposition, and dynamometry.
  • To help perform experimental tests on healthy and neurologically impaired individuals.
  • To cooperate in a team including PhD students and post-doctoral fellows.

Your profile

Basic qualifications:

  • MSc degree in Computer, Electrical Engineering, Physics or related degrees.
  • Proven experience with scripting and object-oriented programming.
  • Interpersonal and organizational skills, creativity, motivation, and communication ability (oral and written).
  • Fluent in written and oral English.

Additional qualifications:

  • Experience with FE modelling and simulation of individual and networks of neurons.
  • Experience with spinal cord electrical stimulation.
  • Experience with programming for real-time applications.


Apply by September 29th, 2019. Applications should include the following documents (incomplete submissions will not be considered): 

  • A video (2-minute max) describing your scientific interests and why you want to apply for this position. Please, include a web link for video direct download in your CV document.
  • A cover letter (1-page max) specifying how your experience and skills match the position.
  • A CV including English proficiency level, nationality, visa requirements, date of birth, experience overview, publication list (if any), and video download link.
  • Transcripts from your BSc and MSc degrees.
  • Contact information for at least two academic references. A support letter will be requested only if your application is considered.

For questions, please contact Assoc.-Prof. Massimo Sartori, mail:

Please, not apply via email but only via the web platform.

Our offer

We offer an ambitious position with a generous allowance:

  • A full-time four-year PhD position.
  • A starting salary of € 2.325 gross per month in the first year and a salary of € 2.972 in the fourth year gross per month;
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.
  • A minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment.
  • A proven pension scheme.
  • Professional and personal development programs.
  • Extraordinary research facilities and working environment:
    • Access to the new established Neuromechanics and Wearable Robotics Labs.
    • Work location within a knowledge park with direct access to a large number of tech-companies and start-ups.
    • Proximity to Enschede, a mid-size city with a large social offer, embedded in the beautiful nature of the Twente region.
    • Fun work atmosphere with social events such as lab retreats.

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.

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET)
is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

PhD opening: computer modeling of spinal cord electrical properties and neuronal networks organization for neuro-modulation technologies
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