ERC - PhD position: Superstructures in thermal 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. The paradigmatic representation of thermal convection is Rayleigh–Bénard flow; a layer of fluid heated from below and cooled from above. According to the traditional view on turbulence advocated by Kolmogorov, the flow characteristics in very turbulent flows should become independent of the system geometry for high enough Rayleigh (dimensionless temperature difference between the plates). However, interestingly, we observe large-scale horizontal flow organization in, for example, satellite pictures of clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere and convection patterns in the Sun. In contrast to predictions by classic theories, we recently found that these large-scale flow structures, referred to as superstructures, survive at high Rayleigh. In this PhD project, funded by an ERC starting grant, you will further develop and use state-of-the-art direct numerical simulations to investigate these thermal superstructures in detail. Your goal is to figure out whether thermal superstructures, which create a very strong turbulence, can trigger the onset to the so-called ultimate regime at relatively low Rayleigh by making the boundary layers fully turbulent. Additional mechanics such as additional wind shear can also be considered.


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.

How to apply:

-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.

Contact: Assistant Prof. Dr. Richard Stevens (PoF)

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The 32nd International Conference on High-Speed Imaging and Photonics ICHSIP-32

Max Planck Gesellschaft
Centre for Scientific Computing