Researcher Ontologies for Modelling Tool Behaviours

Researcher Ontologies for Modelling Tool Behaviours

Published Deadline Location
15 Jul 1 Sep Delft

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Can we capture hand crafting using ontologies in ancient humans and future robots? In this project you will take a first step towards unravelling these questions

Job description

Can we capture hand crafting using ontologies in ancient humans and future robots? In this project you will take a first step towards unravelling these questions. Using ontologies or other knowledge representation and reasoning methods from computer science, you will create a framework to model tool behavior in the animal kingdom. Data input is collected from the literature (primatology, archaeology, ethology) and possibly complemented with data from experiments recreating human tool use. The model will be tested and validated against at least two examples of primate tool behaviour. 


  • Collect data on tool behaviour from the literature
  • Created a formal vocabulary/taxonomy/ontology of tool behaviour
  • Model data and analysis
  • Write two peer-reviewed papers
  • Present results at a conference
  • Co-draft follow-up funding application

Dr Geeske Langejans (Material Sciences Engineering) and Dr Carlos Hernandez (Cognitive Robotics) share an fascination for tool behavior. With this pilot they aim to explore the use of ontologies, to be fully developed in a follow-up project. The successful candidate will work and bridge both departments.


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


  • PhD degree in Archaeology, Cognitive Robotics, Biology or Computer Science.
    • OR
  • Master degree Archaeology, Cognitive Robotics, Biology or Computer Science with proven research experience in knowledge representation and reasoning, taxonomies or animal tool behaviour.
  • Demonstrable experience in at least one of these fields:
    • Ontologies, taxonomies
    • Ethology
    • Early human tool behaviour
    • Computational (social) science and modelling
  • Excellent communication skills in English (written and spoken) and a good sense of humour.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (salary indication: €2.656 - €4.402). The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, a discount on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation. An International Children's Centre offers childcare and there is an international primary school.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context. At TU Delft we embrace diversity and aim to be as inclusive as possible (see our Code of Conduct). Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale.

Challenge. Change. Impact! 


Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

The Faculty of 3mE carries out pioneering research, leading to new fundamental insights and challenging applications in the field of mechanical engineering. From large-scale energy storage, medical instruments, control technology and robotics to smart materials, nanoscale structures and autonomous ships. The foundations and results of this research are reflected in outstanding, contemporary education, inspiring students and PhD candidates to become socially engaged and responsible engineers and scientists. The faculty of 3mE is a dynamic and innovative faculty with an international scope and high-tech lab facilities. Research and education focus on the design, manufacture, application and modification of products, materials, processes and mechanical devices, contributing to the development and growth of a sustainable society, as well as prosperity and welfare.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering.

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering of the Faculty 3mE aims to provide internationally recognised, high quality research of benefit to industry and society, addressing lifecycle, structure, properties and functionality from a physicochemical perspective. Within the Department, the Materials in Art and Archaeology Section develops and applies ground-breaking, analytical concepts for studying (pre)historic objects. Our expertise centres on the elemental, structural and molecular characterisation of materials for technical art history and conservation. We have close collaborations with (inter)nationally leading partners in art, archaeology and science. We bridge the gap between the sciences and the humanities in both education and research.

Cognitive Robotics Department
The main focus of the Cognitive Robotics Department is the development of intelligent robots and vehicles that will advance mobility, productivity and quality of life. Our mission is to bring robotic solutions to human-inhabited environments, focusing on research in the areas of autonomous robots, machine perception, motion planning and control, machine learning, automatic control and physical interaction of intelligent machines with humans. We combine fundamental research with work on physical demonstrators in areas such as self-driving vehicles, collaborative industrial robots, mobile manipulators and haptic interfaces. Strong collaborations exist with cross-faculty institutes TU Delft Robotics Institute, our national robotic ecosystem (RoboValley, Holland Robotics) and international industry and academia (ROS-Industrial consortium).


  • Research, development, innovation
  • Engineering
  • 32—38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • TUD00321


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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