Postdoctoral position on respiratory droplets and pathogen transport in the built environment

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Empa - the place where innovation starts

Empa is the research institute for materials science and technology of the ETH Domain and conducts cutting-edge research for the benefit of industry and the well-being of society.


Laboratory of Multiscale Studies in Building Physics

focuses on developing technologies to support energy transition and a sustainable society by improving the performance of building materials, increasing the use of renewable energy sources, and ameliorating the quality of the built environment both for comfort and public health. The laboratory has excellent experimental infrastructures (including cutting-edge experimental fluid dynamics facilities, environmental chambers, and various equipment to investigate processes in porous materials) and an extensive experience in investigating coupled multiphysics phenomena and complex multiscale processes, as well as in developing and using cutting-edge scientific computing techniques (including HPC, machine learning, multiscale algorithms).

To support our recent activity addressing the risk of infection during the current COVID-19 pandemics, we invite applications for a Postdoctoral position on respiratory droplets

Postdoctoral position on respiratory droplets and pathogen transport in the built environment

The postdoctoral researcher will collaborate with our scientific and technical team, focusing on experimental and numerical aspects of airborne virus transmission. The main objectives are: to characterize and model the transport of potentially virus-laden respiratory droplets and aerosol through the environment; to assess the impact of droplet and aerosol fluid dynamics to the viral transmissibility; to quantitatively evaluate the effectiveness of measures such as physical distancing and use of personal protective equipment; to assess the risk of indoor infection under different ambient conditions.

The project will combine experimental techniques (e.g., Particle Image Velocimetry, Background Oriented Schlieren) and numerical models (to be validated against the experimental observation). Beside the application to pathogen transport, there will be a strong methodological component.

The project results will be useful to improve strategies aimed at decreasing the risk of infection in the built environment and in indoor spaces, making our society more resilient in case of future pandemics or in presence of the spreading of common/seasonal diseases.

The applicants must hold a recent PhD degree, preferably in physics, mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, or related fields. We are seeking a curious, creative, critical individual committed to scientific excellence and high ethical standard. The ideal candidate has a proven experience in combining experiments and simulations to fluid dynamics problems; experience in working with PIV/PTV systems and/or in modeling droplets and aerosols is an asset.


We offer internationally competitive conditions, optimal computational and experimental facilities, and the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary environment where communication and interaction to create synergies and develop novel ideas are highly valued. The position is offered for two years and is available from June 2021, or a slightly later date upon mutual agreement.

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