Martí-Franquès COFUND Fellowship Programme


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Engineering and Architecture

Supervisor name and surname:

Jordi Marcé Nogué

Supervisor email:

Supervisor short biography

Co-supervisor name and surname:

Francisco Javier Huera Huarte

Co-supervisor email:

Co-supervisor institution:


Co-supervisor short biography

PhD programme:

Nanoscience, Materials and Chemical Engineering

Title of the research project:

Modelling of computational biomechanics in evolution

Description of the research project:

Lissamphibans are a vertebrate clade that includes salamanders and newts, among others such as sirens or axolotls. Their ancestors were the first tetrapods to walk on the soil using terrestrial locomotion during the Devonian (between 416 and 360 million of years ago). However, it remains unclear how locomotion evolved from aquatic to terrestrial environments. The proposed project herein is a multidisciplinary approach using computational and experimental methods from mechanics to study the hydrodynamics of these animals. The use of methods from engineering to solve evolutionary problems has been very challenging in the last years and is still a source of new approaches and breakthrough research. The creation of hydrodynamic models of both living and fossil species aims here to answer the question whether they had a more aquatic or terrestrial life pushing the frontiers of the state-of-the art in evolutionary hydrodynamics.The project involves working with ct-scan files of the specimens under study converting and preparing them for the further steps. Firstly, a comparative of several hydrodynamic models of living species will allow to understand the differences between terrestrial and aquatic locomotion by means of methods of statistical classification or machine learning algorithms. Secondly, using methods from morphological characterization, we will relate shape and performance seeking for the optimum bio-design of each locomotion mode. From these data it will be possible to infer a theoretical morpho-space that relates morphology to aspects of hydrodynamic performance, repeating the computational/experimental models for these optimized morphologies. It will allow us to define which morphologies are most optimized for different locomotor environments such as marine, semi-aquatic and terrestrial. Finally, fossils such as Tiktaalik, Ichtyostega or Acanthostega will be included in the shed light on the first steps used by these animals on land.This research project is characterized by its multidisciplinary nature, using methods from mechanical engineering to solve scientific questions in the field of evolutionary biology and palaeontology and aims to close a question that is still unresolved today.

Highly desirable attributes of the ideal candidate
*Demonstrated previous experience in one or more of the following topics: 3D modelling, computational mechanics, functional morphology, palaeontology
*Hold a Master degree, or equivalent, in: Engineering, physics, or mathematics. A biological background with high interest on these topics will also be considered.
*Language skills: Fluent English
*Specific Software skills: Programming languages (Matlab, R, etc.)
*Other skills: Writing and oral communication
Ethics: This project doesn’t involve ethical aspects

Workplace Location: Campus Sescelades, Tarragona

Gross anual salary:

27103.20 €


Full time

Working hours:

37.5 hours a week

Earliest expected start date:

14 February 2022

European union This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 945413