Doctoral Researcher for Experiments in Swimming and Swarming Dynamics of Living Organisms

Updated: 4 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 17 Sep 2023

12 Aug 2023
Job Information

Aalto University
Research Field

Physics » Applied physics
Physics » Biophysics
Physics » Other
Researcher Profile

First Stage Researcher (R1)

Application Deadline

17 Sep 2023 - 20:59 (UTC)
Type of Contract

Job Status

Hours Per Week

Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?

Not funded by an EU programme
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?


Offer Description

Aalto University is where science and art meet technology and business. We shape a sustainable future by making research breakthroughs in and across our disciplines, sparking the game changers of tomorrow and creating novel solutions to major global challenges. Our community is made up of 13 000 students, 400 professors and close to 4 500 other faculty and staff working on our dynamic campus in Espoo, Greater Helsinki, Finland. Diversity is part of who we are, and we actively work to ensure our community’s diversity and inclusiveness. This is why we warmly encourage qualified candidates from all backgrounds to join our community.


The Department of Applied Physics is now looking for a


Doctoral Researcher for experiments in swimming and swarming dynamics of living organisms


A Doctoral Researcher position is available in the Living Matter group of Prof. Matilda Backholm at the Department of Applied Physics at Aalto University. Our research focuses on developing new cutting-edge techniques to probe the forces and flow in small living systems, such as microswimmers, plant roots, and immune cells. Our research is interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven, and we work in an inclusive and collaborative manner.


Your role and goals

You will perform fundamental research in the field of soft and living matter physics, as well as fluid dynamics. You will perform technically challenging swimming force experiments with tiny living organisms using a micropipette force sensor (Backholm et al., Nature Protocols 2019 ). Your first project will be to investigate the effect of nearby swimmers on the swimming dynamics of brine shrimps. In parallel with your experimental work, you will develop theoretical models in collaboration with our international collaborators. You will be expected to take charge of your own research project, conduct your work with high scientific quality, and actively communicate your problems, mistakes, and scientific findings to the rest of the team. We help each other to succeed in making exciting new scientific discoveries.


Your network and team

Prof. Backholm will be your main PhD supervisor. You will also work in close collaboration with a postdoc and a more senior doctoral researcher of our team. In the first weeks, you will be assigned your own onboarding buddy who will help you get started with your work and studies at Aalto.


Your experience and ambitions

It is important that you can work both independently as well as in a team. You should have a strong internal motivation for pursuing a PhD degree. The working language of the group is English, and we expect all our team members to have very strong written and oral English skills in order to ensure efficient communication and collaboration. Finnish language is not required.



  • MSc degree in Physics
  • A keen interest to work in the lab, learn how to build your own instruments, perform your own experiments, and analyze your results.
  • Excellent student track records.
  • These backgrounds are considered a plus: Courses in fluid dynamics, biological physics, or soft matter physics or experience with MATLAB.


What we offer

We offer an interdisciplinary and dynamic working environment with a strong focus on curiosity-driven research. You will be trained in performing advanced experimental research and developing theoretical models to describe the core physics of the system. You will be encouraged to build your own scientific reputation by networking with our national and international collaborators, and participating in conferences to present your results. This position will also give you more general skill sets, such as critical thinking and problem solving. You will also learn to communicate complicated topics in a clear and intriguing manner. The core values of the Living Matter group are inclusion, equality, and collaboration. We value work-life balance and the wellbeing of all team members. Please see for more details about the group and Prof. Backholm.

The fixed term contract is initially for 2 years with a 2-year extension after passing the midterm review. The annual workload of research and teaching staff at Aalto University is 1612 hours. Aalto University follows the salary system of Finnish universities. The starting salary for Doctoral Researchers is approximately 2690 € per month (gross), and it increases as you progress in your research and studies. The contract includes Aalto University occupational healthcare.

Our vast array of professional development opportunities means you will grow and learn, having the chance to participate actively in staff trainings and development projects based on your interests and needs. There is great freedom in your role, and we have a flexible modern working culture.

We work in a hybrid way, and the primary workplace is Otaniemi, Espoo. The Otaniemi campus is a thriving and connected community of 100 nationalities, 13,000 students and 4,500 employees. Life at the transformed campus is vibrant and filled with amazing architecture, calming nature, and a variety of cafes, restaurants, services and good connections along the recently opened metro line.


Join us!

To apply, please submit your application including the attachments mentioned below as one single PDF document in English through our online recruitment system ("Apply Now”).

(1) Letter of motivation (please highlight the above listed requirements for the position)

(2) CV

(3) Degree certificates and academic transcripts

(4) Contact details of at least two referees (or letters of recommendation, if already available) 


The deadline for applications is 17.9.2023. The position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is identified. For additional information, kindly contact Prof. Matilda Backholm (matilda.backholm(at) Aalto University reserves the right for justified reasons to leave the position open, to extend the application period, reopen the application process, and to consider candidates who have not submitted applications during the application period.

We will go through applications, and we may invite suitable candidates to interview already during the application period. You will hear from us the latest in the first week of October. We aim to have a transparent and equal recruitment process, so feel free to ask us for feedback.

Please note: Aalto University’s employees and visitors should apply for the position via our internal system Workday à Internal Jobs by using their existing Workday user account. 

Want to know more about us and your future colleagues? You can watch these videos: Aalto University – Towards a better world , Aalto People , and Shaping a Sustainable Future . Read more about working at Aalto:

Check out our new virtual campus experience:


About Finland

Finland is a great place for living with or without family – it is a safe, politically stable and well-organized Nordic society. Finland is consistently ranked high in quality of life and was just listed again as the happiest country in the world: . For more information about living in Finland: & .





Aalto-yliopistossa tiede ja taide kohtaavat tekniikan ja talouden. Rakennamme kestävää tulevaisuutta saavuttamalla läpimurtoja avainalueillamme ja niiden yhtymäkohdissa. Samalla innostamme tulevaisuuden muutoksentekijöitä ja luomme ratkaisuja maailman suuriin haasteisiin. Yliopistoyhteisöömme kuuluu 13 000 opiskelijaa ja yli 4500 työntekijää, joista 400 on professoreita. Kampuksemme sijaitsee Espoon Otaniemessä. Monimuotoisuus on osa meitä, ja teemme jatkuvaa työtä yhteisömme monimuotoisuuden ja syrjimättömyyden varmistamiseksi. Siksi kannustammekin päteviä hakijoita taustasta riippumatta liittymään yhteisöömme.


Aalto-yliopiston Teknillisen fysiikan laitos hakee väitöskirjatutkijaa Living Matter -tutkimusryhmään


Tehtävässä olet avainroolissa toteuttamassa Aallon strategiaa ja rakentamassa edellytyksiä huipputason tutkimukselle. Tutustu tehtävän tavoitteisiin ja odotuksiimme englanninkielisestä ilmoituksesta yllä.




Tarjoamme sinulle mielenkiintoisen työn inspiroivassa työympäristössä. Pääset työskentelemään opiskelijoiden, tutkijoiden ja muiden ammattilaisten yhteisössä, jossa edistämme yhteiskunnallisesti merkittäviä tavoitteita tieteen ja koulutuksen saralla. Perehdytämme sinut tehtäviisi ja pääset osaksi mukavaa ja osaavaa tiimiä, joka tarjoaa sinulle tuen työtehtäviisi myös jatkossa. Kannustamme ja tarjoamme mahdollisuuksia jatkuvaan oman osaamisesi kehittämiseen.


Pyrimme yhdistämään etä- ja lähityöskentelyn parhaat puolet ja meillä on joustavat työajat. Lähityöpisteesi sijaitsee uudistuneella ja elävällä Otaniemen kampusalueella, jossa on monipuoliset palvelut ja hyvät kulkuyhteydet metron ja isojen väylien varrella.


Sopimus on määräaikainen ja aluksi kaksi vuotta. Sopimusta voidaan jatkaa kahdella vuodella väliarvioinnin suorittamisen jälkeen. Aalto-yliopiston tutkimus- ja opetushenkilöstön vuosittainen työmäärä on 1612 tuntia. Tehtävän palkkaus määräytyy Aalto-yliopistossa käytössä olevan yliopistojen palkkausjärjestelmän mukaisesti. Väitöstutkijan aloituspalkka on noin 2690 € kuukaudessa (brutto), ja se nousee tutkimuksen ja opintojen edetessä. Sopimus sisältää Aalto-yliopiston työterveyshuollon. Toivomme, että voit aloittaa tehtävässä mahdollisimman pian sopimuksen mukaan.




Jos innostuit tehtävästä ja haluat liittyä joukkoomme, lähetä ansioluettelosi, hakemuskirje, tutkintotodistukset sekä opintosuoritusotteet ja vähintään kahden suosittelijan yhteystiedot (tai suosituskirjeet) yhtenä PDF-dokumenttina rekrytointijärjestelmämme kautta viimeistään 17.9.2023.


Jos olet Aallon työntekijä tai vierailija, haethan sisäistä hakukanavaa käyttäen kirjautumalla ensin Workday-järjestelmään (internal jobs).


Lisätietoja antaa apulaisprofessori Matilda Backholm (matilda.backholm(at)



More about Aalto University:

Research Field
Years of Research Experience
1 - 4

Research Field
Years of Research Experience
1 - 4

Research Field
Years of Research Experience
1 - 4

Additional Information
Website for additional job details

Work Location(s)
Number of offers available
Aalto University
Postal Code
Lämpömiehenkuja 2

Where to apply


Postal Code


View or Apply

Similar Positions