Announcement of a short term (6 months) research position in physiological ecology and industrial bioinspiration

Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle - Saint-Gobain Isover

Research project : ‘Towards dynamic buildings: bioinspiration from animal thermodynamics’

Current environmental and energetic challenges call for an improvement of buildings performances, and of their dynamic regulation, while ensuring occupant comfort. How to change buildings design and control so that buildings become more flexible, adjusting their properties to environmental dynamics, while protecting us better from climatic fluctuations and reducing energy expenditure ? The chosen line of research to innovate is bioinspiration: to systematically explore the mechanisms that make animals resilient to climatic hazards. 
The hired researcher/engineer will draw on available knowledge of physiology and behaviour of endothermic animals. The project is based on two objectives: (1) To identify physiological and behavioural adjustements expressed by endothermic animals in response to climatic and weather contraints (literature and conceptual survey and synthesis), (2) To identify a conceptual and operating framework to streamline the transfer of knowledge from ecology to innovation in the building industry (mathematical formulation of available knowledge, using thermodynamic models for animals and building, to assess the effectiveness of alternative potential innovations).  

Mots-clés. Bioinspiration ; biomimetism ; building engineering; thermoregulation ; energy savings; bioenergetic model; thermodynamic model; climatic fluctuations ; dynamic materials; well-being

Hosting instutions 

The project will run in close collaboration between a private company and an academic laboratory.

Academic partner: Integrative biology of adaptation team (BIOADAPT), Adaptive mechanisms and evolution Research Unit (UMR 7179 MECADEV - MNHN, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités), Department Ecology and Biodiversity Manadgement, National Museum of Natural History, 1 avenue du Petit Château, 91800 Brunoy, France. Internet:
Main supervisor: Dr. Pierre-Yves HENRY (associate professor;; 01 60 47 92 28, webpage :

Private partner: Saint-Gobain produces, transforms and distributes materials (glass, ceramics, plastics, iron, …). Saint-Gobain transforms materials into valuable products for our every-day life and to build our future housing. SAINT-GOBAIN ISOVER is one of the companies of Isolation activity within the « Products for building » Pole of Saint-Gobain Group. With 9 000 employees in 40 countries, SAINT-GOBAIN ISOVER is one of the main companies of SAINT-GOBAIN Group. Since several years, it has been the world leader for isolation. The partner team for the present project in the Products, Systems and Solutions R&D Service, Isover Saint-Gobain, 60291 Rantigny, France.
Supervisors: Dr. Jérôme GILLES ( et Maria FABRA PUCHOL (Service Head;; 06 79 88 27 49).
Required profiles. Two profiles are possible: persons with a master or engineer level and training in research or persons seeking a postdoctoral experience. The candidate will have the corresponding degree in Life Sciences (Physiology, Behaviour, Ecology – Evolution) or in industrial engineering (Material Physics or Chemistry, Bioinspiration). In addition to initial academic training, she/he will demonstrate a broad curiosity and strong interest for conceptualization, since the project involves the extraction of generic concepts and principles from very distinct disciplines (biology/building engineering). She/he will be highly motivated by interdisciplinarity, at the interface between research domains relying on different theories, methods and output priorities. The project will involve collaborative work with two teams. Mathematical modelling skills will be necessary to achieve autonomously the second objective.

Appointment. The present research fellowship is for 6 months, with starting date between October 1st, 2015, and January, 1st, 2016. Applications will be examined as we receive them, and until we find a suitable candidate (latest application on December 1st, 2015). Monthly salary will be 2500 € (free of charge). The candidate engages in producing a report synthesizing promising innovation perspectives derived from the literature survey and the comparison of themodynamic models. Publication of results in a scientific journal will be conditional on research achievements, and on the need to keep results confidential in case of potential industrial outcome. The candidate will be based at Muséum in Brunoy (surroundinds of Paris).
Applications. Applications will be made of (i) an application letter, explaining the motivation and skills of the candidate for the topic, the potential for scientific creativity in relevant disciplines, (ii) a CV, which will mention ranks and appreciations per semester per academic degree, and (iii) names, phone numbers and e-mails for at least two referees, who will be able to produce – on demand – a factual appreciations of the suitability of the candidate for the present project. Candidates demonstrating a good potential for the project will be interviewed. 
Applications are to be sent by e-mail to: and