How to Apply

Interested candidates may contact Dr. Dan Romanyk by email at to discuss their qualifications and the project. To apply for this opportunity, please submit a complete application package including a cover letter detailing your specific interest in this project, resume, and transcripts as soon as possible.

The Opportunity

Dr. Romanyk of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta invites applications and queries for a full-time Doctoral research assistant position in the area of Cranial Suture Tissue Mechanics. As a member of Dr. Romanyk’s group, you will be exposed to an exciting interdisciplinary research environment focusing on the fundamental material response of an array of biomaterials. Experimental, analytical modeling, and numerical modeling approaches are used to study materials such as cranial suture and periodontal ligament tissues as well as a number of other dental-based restorative materials. Dr. Romanyk promotes a collaborative work environment with those in his group to foster innovative research that provides significant advancements to fundamental scientific and applied knowledge within his areas of focus.

The Project

Cranial sutures are the soft connective tissue that joins bones in the skull. Suture tissue is unique in that it facilitates growth and remodeling of bone connected to it in the presence of applied mechanical stimuli, and will generally fuse to become bone over time. In its unfused form, cranial sutures are a complex structure consisting primarily of vasculature, collagen fibres, and extracellular matrix, and may have varying levels of bone present throughout as they begin to fuse over time. Overall research goals in this area are to better understand the mechanical response of suture tissue to applied loading and how this in turn drives the biological response to facilitate bone remodeling and growth at suture sites. This specific research project will focus on studying the mechanical response of cranial suture tissue using advanced experimental and modeling techniques. Experimental protocols using swine tissue will generate data to inform novel viscoelastic modeling approaches. Outcomes from this research will significantly advance the fundamental understanding around cranial suture viscoelastic response to applied loading, and better inform clinicians and researchers as to how mechanical stimulus drives a biological response at suture sites. Beyond having an impact in the basic science and engineering community, this work will have application to better understanding cranial growth and development, and have implications in areas such as head trauma or in treatments such as orthodontic expansion of the upper jaw.

Specialized Training & Skills Development

Training of undergraduate and graduate research assistants is paramount. The selected candidate will receive formal training on an Instron E3000 multi-axis testing frame including how to design and carry out load- and displacement-controlled experiments at varying rates to study viscoelastic behavior. Structural characterisation and imaging tools such as computed tomography (CT) will also likely be required during progression of the research project. Additionally, the student will work with modeling focused tools (e.g. ANSYS or ABAQUS) to further develop cranial suture modeling approaches. The student will have opportunities to participate in national and international conferences.

Required Qualifications

  • Master’s of Science (or Engineering) degree in Mechanical or Biomedical Engineering
    • Candidates with a Bachelor’s of Science (or Engineering) degree in Mechanical or Biomedical Engineering wishing to pursue a Master’s degree may also be considered

  • Willing to register in the University of Alberta’s PhD Program
  • Keen interest and/or experience (coursework, research, and/or industrial) in: tissue mechanics, biological tissue experimental methods, biomedical engineering, advanced modeling techniques, finite element analysis, and use of MATLAB are assets
  • Minimum GPA of 3.3
  • Proven ability to work independently
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills; proficiency in English
  • Open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada, and foreign students

Desired Qualifications
  • Experience conducting literature reviews
  • Prior peer-reviewed publications
  • Experience with handling and conducting experiments with biological tissues

Start Date: September 2019 (earlier start dates may be considered)