PhD position – Semen refinement on chip for animal breeding industry

PhD position – Semen refinement on chip for animal breeding industry

Published Deadline Location
29 Jun 31 Jul Enschede

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Job description

Within the BIOS, Lab on a Chip group of the University of Twente, we have two vacancies for a PhD position to develop a reliable, commercially interesting and microfluidic platform for the sorting spermatozoa based on quality markers.

The animal breeding industry widely uses artificial insemination (AI). Commercial AI organizations have a great interest in marketing spermatozoa with the best quality resulting in larger economic value. Today the only method for sorting spermatozoa based on differences in properties is fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS). This method has several disadvantages, such as high costs, low sorting efficiency, sorting speed and inflicted cell damage because of the process. Due to these disadvantages, the FACS technique is currently not used for the pig industry, because it is not profitable due to need of higher insemination doses.

Figure 1 | Illustration of the microfluidic platform for quality sorting.

To overcome this problem, we aim to develop a reliable, commercially interesting and microfluidic platform for the sorting spermatozoa based on quality markers. For instance morphology can be used as sorting parameter. This requires the need to assess each spermatozoon separately, which requires a small dimensional setup device. Lab-on-a-chip technology is suitable for this purpose and it has been shown to be an excellent platform for single spermatozoon detection and manipulation. Furthermore lab-on-a-chip technology has the potential of parallelization and we propose to use a label-free method to determine quality markers, which are big advantages compared to FACS. In figure 1 a visual concept of our approach is shown, consisting of a focusing, detection and sorting region.

One of the most critical features of the device is the label-free detection of the quality marker and the ability to discriminate between high fertile and low fertile spermatozoa. A proven technique to detect differences in cell characteristics is microfluidic impedance cytometry. This technique has been used to distinguish between two different viable cell types with identical size. In one project, we will investigate if electrical impedance measurements can be used for the detection of the small differences in individual spermatozoa that are related to the individual fertility capability. In the other project, we will develop a reliable, commercially interesting microfluidic platform for the sorting of spermatozoa based on quality markers


University of Twente (UT)


We are looking for highly motivated and excellent researcher with a MSc degree in biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, applied physics, life sciences or related topic. You should be an enthusiastic person with well-developed communication skills, especially in written and spoken English. You should be capable of working independently as well as in a multidisciplinary team. Innovative and creative thinking are other requirements.

Please contact dr. ir. Loes Segerink (, +31 53 489 4541) for more information.

To apply, send your application letter, a detailed CV, publication list, contact details of at least 2 referees and list of grades before 31 July 2017 to the link below.

Conditions of employment

We offer a very challenging position in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. As a PhD candidate you will be offered a full-time (38 hours/week) position for four years, after which you should have completed your PhD thesis. In accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, the gross monthly salary for a PhD increases from € 2.222,-- in the first year to € 2.840,-- in the final year plus a holiday allowance (8%), an end-year bonus (8.3% of the annual salary) and a number of additional benefits. The University of Twente provides excellent campus facilities, and actively supports professional and personal development.


The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research.

The faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) comprises three disciplines that shape Information and Communication Technology. ICT is more than communication. In almost every product we use mathematics, electronics and computer technology and ICT now contributes to all of societies' activities. The faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders. The research which enjoys a high profile both at home and internationally, has been accommodated in the multidisciplinary research institutes MESA+, CTIT and MIRA.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2222—€2840 per month
  • University graduate
  • 917571


University of Twente (UT)

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Drienerlolaan 5, 7522 NB, Enschede

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