Researcher Ontologies for Modelling Tool Behaviours

Research / Academic

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.


  • 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.

Salary Benefits:

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.

Work Hours:

32 - 38 hours per week


Mekelweg 2