KU Leuven

Junior professor in mechanobiology of cellular and subcellular systems

KU leuven

Leuven, Belgium

The Science, Engineering and Technology Group, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering of KU Leuven, invites applications for a full-time academic position at its Department of Biosystems. We are looking for internationally oriented candidates with an excellent interdisciplinary research record and with educational competence, to strengthen the program on bionanotechnology and develop a research competence in the domain of mechanobiology of cellular and subcellular systems in the Department’s Division of Mechatronics, Biostatistics and Sensors (MeBioS).

MeBioS investigates the interaction between biological systems and physical processes. The emphasis is on the measurement of properties of biological products and process variables, the analysis of the measured signals by means of advanced statistical methods, process and equipment design, optimisation and control. Mathematical models to describe the working principles of biological systems at different spatial and temporal scales are essential for this purpose.

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Cells are the basic building blocks of all living organisms. Recent findings in intra- and extracellular processes revealed that physical signals originating from mechanical loads mediate cellular function and are, therefore, critical for proper functioning of single cells and (sub)cellular systems. Important mechanical events on the cellular level are cell deformation, active cellular protrusion, adhesion, cell motility and crawling. On the subcellular level, mechanical signals, sensed by the cell, induce a cascade of biochemical reactions, leading to a myriad of biological responses. The young field of mechanobiology integrates molecular and cellular biology with various disciplines from experimental and theoretical mechanics, such as analytical dynamics, elasto-plasticity theory, statistical mechanics, computational mechanics, and systems biology.

  • You continue the long and outstanding tradition of the MeBioS Division in physical modelling of biological systems (microorganisms, plant, human and animal cells) at the micro- and nanoscale.
  • You establish a research program on mechanobiology for cellular and subcellular systems that aligns with the existing MeBioS research expertise.
  • You conduct fundamental research in the field of mechanobiology of cellular and subcellular systems, with a special focus on deep understanding of the underlying processes and active mechanisms. You develop advanced computational methods to this end.
  • You strive for excellence in your research and contribute to the continued development of the bionanotechnology field within the division and department.
  • You leverage this knowledge to develop new technologies and translate them into products that meet real world challenges.
  • You set up collaborations with other staff members within the department and other research units at KU Leuven.
  • You are capable of acquiring competitive funding.
  • You publish at the highest scientific level, acquire resources for fundamental and applied research, develop international collaborations and supervise PhDs at an international level.


You ensure high-quality education within the area of the vacancy in the bachelor and master education programmes, with a clear commitment for the quality of the programme as a whole. You also contribute to the educational project of the faculty/university through the supervision of master theses and as a promoter of PhD students.

You develop your teaching in accordance with KU Leuven’s vision on activating and researched-based education and make use of the possibilities for educational professionalisation offered by the faculty and the university.

Your teaching duty is determined by agreement and based on your specific profile. The teaching workload is limited in the first years of your appointment. In your further career, the faculty pays a great deal of attention to the balance between research and teaching time.


You translate and exploit basic knowledge in the domain of mechanobiology for cellular and subcellular systems and establish a network of national and international collaborations with research, industrial and governmental partners.

You enthusiastically participate in the activities of various committees and working groups in the Science, Engineering and Technology Group, the Department of Biosystems and the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering.


  • You hold a PhD in Bioscience Engineering, Engineering Science, Engineering Technology, Science, or any other field that prepares equally well for the research program and teaching activities. A specialisation in bionanotechnology is an asset.
  • You have an excellent research record as reflected by high-quality international peer-reviewed journal publications.
  • You possess very good teaching and training skills, in order to be able to contribute to the research output of the department and to the quality of its educational program.
  • You have international research experience.
  • You possess organisational skills and have a cooperative attitude. You also possess leadership capacities within a university context.
  • You have a good command of English. The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch. If you do not speak Dutch (or do not speak it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable you to take part in meetings. Before teaching courses in Dutch or English, you will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch, respectively English, to meet the required standard.


We are offering a full-time employment in an intellectually challenging environment. KU Leuven is a research-intensive, internationally oriented university that carries out both fundamental and applied scientific research. It is highly inter- and multidisciplinarily focused and strives for international excellence. In this regard, it actively works together with research partners in Belgium and abroad. It provides its students with an academic education that is based on high-quality scientific research.

You will work in Leuven, a historic, dynamic and lively city located in the heart of Belgium, within 20 minutes from Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam.

As a rule, junior researchers are appointed at the level of assistant professor (tenure track) for a period of 5 years; following upon this period, they will, pending a positive evaluation, be offered a tenured position as associate professor.

You will be supported by a PhD student scholarship during the first four years and have access to the research facilities of the division and core facilities (e.g. Leuven NanoCentre) of KU Leuven. You are part of a young and dynamic team holding expertise in bionanotechnology.

KU Leuven is well set to welcome foreign professors and their family and provides practical support with regard to immigration & administration, housing, childcare, learning Dutch, partner career coaching, …

To facilitate scientific onboarding and accelerate research in the first phase a starting grant of 100.000 euro is offered to new professors without substantial other funding, appointed for at least 50%."


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Bart Nicolai, tel.: +32 16 32 23 75, mail: bart.nicolai@kuleuven.be.For problems with online applying, please contact solliciteren@kuleuven.be.

Add to your application following documents (more information is available on the KU Leuven job site):

  • your biosketch in which you indicate your addedvalue as an academic for research, education and service to society of yourpast career and of your future activities (maximum 2 pages);
  • a file on your five most importantpublications or realizations;
  • an extensive cv including a fullpublication list and if applicable a portfolio of your projects;
    your research plan with focus on thedevelopment of your research line and research team in relation with thecolleague-researchers of the entity of employment (maximum 5 pages);
  • your vision on academic educationand its organization (maximum 2 pages);
  • your contribution to society byoutreach and public communication on science and technology, internalrepresentation in boards and councils and service activities directly inrelation to your developed expertise (maximum 1 page);
  • your vision on leadership (maximum 1page).

You can apply for this job no later than February 29, 2020 via the online online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.