Postdoctoral Research Associate (12 months) in Paste Rheology and Extrusion Simulation

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate position on determining paste rheological properties and extrusion flow behaviour working with Dr Jin Sun in the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh; and closely collaborating with a multi-national company. The position is to commence as soon as possible, and is a fixed-term post for 12 months.

Pastes are highly concentrated dispersions of solid particles in a liquid. The reliable and efficient processing and manufacture of products using paste extrusion presents great challenges to current technology because at high solids volume fraction and to meet stringent product specifications the flow behaviour becomes increasingly unstable and unpredictable. Understanding the rheology and predicting the flow dynamics of paste extrusion also represent grand challenges in fundamental sciences and cutting-edge engineering. The project aims to using advanced particle scale modelling and simulation combining bespoke experiments to understand paste rheology and predict extrusion flow behaviour.

The candidate should have (or be due to submit soon) a PhD in Chemical, Mechanical, or Material Engineering, Physics, Applied Mathematics, or another relevant fields. The candidate must have excellent understanding in soft matter physics, rheology and fluid mechanics, proven experience in computational study of complex fluids or granular matter. Furthermore, excellent communication and organizational skills are required. Experience in simulation using molecular dynamics, discrete element method and/or coupled fluid dynamics at multiple scales is advantageous. Relevant industrial engagement/experience is desirable.

Candidates invited for interview will be informed no later than two working weeks after the close of applications.

Informal enquiries to: Dr Jin Sun

1. Job Details

Job title: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Paste Rheology and Extrusion Simulation

School/Support Department: School of Engineering

Line manager: Dr Jin Sun

2. Job Purpose

The Postdoctoral Research Associate will be responsible for carrying out a programme of computational work to study the paste rheology and flow dynamics in extrusion processes and collaborate closely with colleagues in experimental work and industrial partners.

3. Main Responsibilities

Primary research activities, including (but not limited to) performing simulations of paste flows in rheometric and industrial extrusion geometries using LAMMPS; developing new algorithms for complex particles coupling with multiscale fluid dynamics; synthesising the simulation results with the corresponding experimental and industrial process data to gain new insights into the fundamental behaviour paste extrusion. (65% of time)

Collaborate actively and closely within the project team, including identify collaborating opportunities; participating in project meetings and contributing to the discussions; travelling to relevant companies, obtaining industrial processing data and transferring knowledge and data. (15% of time)

Dissemination and publication activities, including (but not limited to) writing peer-reviewed journal papers, attending relevant conferences to ensure that results are available in a timely and accessible format for a range of audiences, and communicating with industrial stakeholders and general public. (10% of time)

Providing guidance and mentoring support to other staff and researchers interested in integrating
methods/results from this work into their own activity to ensure most effective use. (5% of time)

Developing plans for personal research, and contributing to wider development of group strategy to identify and agree priorities for current and future work. (5% of time)

As part of a Research Staff member’s career and professional development as an early career academic, the School of Engineering has the expectation that the post holder will undertake some limited teaching duties. Not only is teaching experience valuable in developing communication skills, but it leads to a deeper understanding of the subject area.

4. Planning and Organising

• Determine the aims, objectives and deadlines for short to medium term work plan, in discussion with the Line Manager (particularly for medium term planning).
• Plan the day-to-day work to ensure that work progresses according to the timetable agreed with the Line Manager.
• Organise own time so that different aspects of the project can proceed in parallel.
• Attend regular project meetings to report and review progress.
• Contribute to long-term strategic planning and development of group activities, in discussion with the Line Manager and other researchers.
• Participate in career development activities to support personal longer term planning

5. Problem Solving

• Overcome problems encountered in the development of new approaches and implementation of existing techniques.
• Be proactive in overcoming any logistical and administrative problems encountered in the project.
• Work with the project investigators and other researchers to resolve problems related to implementation of the techniques and methods used in the project.

6. Decision Making

• Manage day-to-day workload, making independent decisions about immediate priorities to meet short and medium term targets that have been agreed with the Line Manager.
• Determine when it is best to continue working on a modelling problem independently and when further help should be sought, supported by regular meetings with the Line Manager.

7. Key Contacts/Relationships

• Frequent (daily to weekly) contact with other researchers in the project team and relevant research groups including academic staff, other postdoctoral researchers and PhD students.
• Regular (weekly to monthly) contact with other researchers working on relevant problems in the University of Edinburgh.
• Regular (typically monthly to quarterly) contact with other researchers working on relevant problems at other UK universities.
• Regular (typically monthly to quarterly) contact with key stakeholders, likely to include industry.

8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job


• PhD in Engineering, Physics, Applied Mathematics, or a related field.


• Proven track record of using computer simulations for soft matter, complex fluids, granular or other discrete particle systems
• Experience in engineering simulations on high performance (parallel) computers.

• Experience in computer simulation of coupled particle–fluid dynamical systems.
• Previous industry engagement.

Knowledge, Skills and Competencies

• Proven ability to use computer simulations to understand the physics of complex phenomena/processes
• Excellent knowledge and understanding of soft matter, rheology or fluid dynamics.
• Research skills or potential at an international level.
• Fluency in at least one scientific computer language (e.g. C, C++, Fortran), with experience of writing programs in this language.
• Ability to understand and present technical information to both specialists and non-specialists at conferences and in meetings with the project leaders.
• Excellent written communication skills in English and ability to write up own research work for publications, with associated necessary IT skills.
• Ability to prepare suitable oral and poster presentations to convey information about research.
• Team-working and interpersonal skills.
• Excellent ability to work collaboratively and independently.

• Excellent knowledge and understanding of hybrid multiscale methods.
• Familiarity with Unix/Linux operating systems, and of writing scripts.
• Proven skills in data analysis of numerical results.

Personal Attributes

• Capable of working collaboratively with researchers from different disciplines or technical background
• Capable of working independently, exercising a high degree of initiative and demonstrating a pro-active and flexible approach to work.
• ability to contribute ideas and initiate new ways of working.
• ability to develop and maintain effective working relationships.

• ability to be adaptive and accepting of new ideas and a willingness to approach new challenges and adjusts plans to meet new priorities.

9. Dimensions
• Potential to supervise 2-4 summer project and research students.
• Work collaboratively with researchers from other universities.
• Keep the Line Manager(s) up-to-date with progress.
• Contribute to strategic planning within immediate groups (2-4 academics, 5-10 postdoctoral staff, 5-10 PhD students).

Application Procedure

All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page and submitting an up to date CV. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

The closing date is 5pm GMT on Monday 3rd October 2016.

Eligibility to Work

In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).

To do so, the University of Edinburgh requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on eligibility to work please visit our eligibility to work website

If you are not currently eligible to work in the UK, the University has the authority to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa) in accordance with current UK Visas and Immigration rules.

For applicants interested in sponsorship information is available on our Working in the UK website

However, if you have previously been sponsored by an employer within the UK but your leave has expired or lapsed and you are no longer in the UK, according to Home Office Visa Immigration rules you cannot apply for sponsorship under any category of Tier 2 for a period of 12 months after the date your visa expired and/or you left the UK.

If you are an academic in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts and come from outside the EEA, it may be possible for you to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa.

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route offers a greater flexibility in your employment compared to other UK immigration routes, meaning you can, for example, move organisation, location and/or job role. By contrast with, a Tier 2 visa where you are ‘tied to a UK sponsor’. Tier 1 provides greater flexibility in undertaking additional engagements, such as collaborations and is intended as a route to settlement. Allowed absences from the UK are up to 180 days per year without losing the eligibility to qualify for settlement, with no restriction on the reason for absence (unlike Tier 2, where any absences from the UK must be for a purpose consistent with the person’s employment or economic activity, including paid annual leave, or for serious or compelling personal reasons).

You would initially need to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by a designated competent body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech City UK).

Tier1 (Exceptional and Exceptional Promise) Endorsement Criteria

Once successfully endorsed, you are able to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. More information on this entry route is available at UKVI Website.

Conditions of Employment

Pension Scheme

This role is grade UE07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

For further information please visit our pensions website.


The role is grade UE07 and attracts an annual salary of £31,656 to £37,768 for 35 hours, full time each week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month.

The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.

UoE Vacancy Ref: 


Closing Date: 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Contact Name: 

Dr Jin Sun

Contact Email: 

Contact Telephone: 

+44 (0) 131 65