Postdoc on flow and deformation of microorganisms in biomicrofluidics
The flow physics of microorganisms is important to explain how they organize in their natural environment and in response to different stimuli, such as sunlight and chemical concentration gradients. For microorganisms that have been genetically modified to make products (foods, pharmaceuticals), the flow conditions in human-made flows, for instance in bioreactors, can be extreme compared to those in the natural environment. In these conditions, the forces applied by flowing fluids can be so large as to deform and break cells. While the deformation and rupture in flow of animal cells (cancer cells, red blood cells, etc) has been studied extensively for biomedical applications, the physics of deformation and rupture in flow of microoganisms remains largely unexplored, despite its potentially important implications in biotechnology and bioprocessing. The difference between the two types of cells is profound: while an animal cell is only enclosed by a soft, 2-nm thick lipid membrane, microorganisms also possess a structural layer up to 100s of nm thick, called cell wall, with a complex architecture and outstanding mechanical strength. The goal of this project is to address some fundamental questions from the perspective of soft matter and flow physics, to ultimately enable to control the deformation and microstructure of the cell wall of microorganisms in flow. You will address these questions using a combination of fluidic methods (microfluidics, acoustofluidics), imaging techniques (microscopy, fluorescent staining of cell components) and micromechanical measurements (AFM). You will join an inclusive and interdisciplinary team working on microscale transport phenomena in soft and biological matter. The Garbin lab is embedded in the Department of Chemical Engineering of TU Delft, and the project provides exciting opportunities for collaboration with colleagues in the Departments of Biotechnology and Bionanosciences, and with collaborators in Physical Chemistry and Soft Matter at Wageningen University. The postdoc position is initially for 1 year, with the possibility to extend for 1 additional year. The deadline for applications is 28/05/2021. For information on the opening, details of the application procedure, and to apply, see Job details (tudelft.nl).