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Doctoral student in Structural Timber Connections

Department of Building Construction, Services and Structures

A PhD position conducent to the obtention of the doctoral degree is open at the ONESTA Wood Chair of the University of Navarra in Pamplona (Spain).

Doctoral studies provide an opportunity to become an expert in a research area and to learn good research methodology, and forms the basis for a continued career in research and development, in academia or industry.

Aplicaciones anidadas

Aplicaciones anidadas


Project opportunity

Have you realised that expanding timber construction could produce a combined effect  (when considering both emissions reduction and carbon sequestration) equivalent to eliminating construction emissions? Do you want to take part in future developments related to this challenge?


The ONESTA Wood Chair offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to a project of international significance. We have a strong focus on good teaching, and leading research. We have access to equipment for advanced computer calculations and experimental measurements. We are motivated by developing new knowledge that contributes to developing solutions to engineering problems.

You will be involved in a research project that aims to investigate the structural response of timber connections in a comprehensive manner. The intended outcome is the development of models (both analytical and numerical) to pave the way of an improved understanding of connections response, leading to more efficient and safe timber structures.

You are invited to submit your application to collaborate with the ONESTA Wood Chair team on the following tasks related to structural timber connections:

 development of new design concepts;

 perform experimental tests;

 development of analytical and finite element models;

 proposal of European guidelines or technical specifications;

 interaction with industry and research partners;

 collaboration in teaching and other departmental duties.

Aplicaciones anidadas


Preferred educational background

Preferred educational background

• The preferred background and experience is:
• MSc. in Engineering/Architecture (or related discipline);
• knowledge of timber construction and wood technology;
• knowledge of structural modelling software (recommended);
• excellent English language skills;
• Spanish language skills (recommended);
• passion to learn on a challenging topic full of future opportunities!


Assessment criteria

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed on a competitive basis, including a personal interview.

Selection is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following:

• Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study.
• An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems.
• Written and oral communication skills.
• Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, e.g. professional experience.

Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programme.


Terms of employment

Terms of employment

Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies at UNAV consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 4 years (including 20% departmental duties, with a maximum of 60 teaching hours per year).

The gross annual salary gradually increases from €17.000 up to €23.000. You will need to enrol in a PhD program at UNAV. Tuition fees are not covered, but you get an 80% reduction on them, which then become around 300€/year.

Expected starting date is before January 2024.


Aplicaciones anidadas

Aplicaciones anidadas


About the Wood Chair

At the ONESTA Wood Chair we firmly believe in research, innovation and environmental protection as the basis for orderly and sustainable growth in the wood sector. We aim to develop a wood culture in the society, disseminating and promoting its use as an alternative for building more natural and healthy environments.

Born in 2010, thanks to the impulse of the Government of Navarra, we are funded since 2022 by Onesta. With more than 60 years leading the sector, Onesta integrates the whole wood value chain, guaranteeing the quality and traceability of products from their origin to their application in industrial, construction and decorative projects.

We are a solid interdisciplinary group of experts, led by Prof. J.M. Cabrero.   Our research relates to the constructional use of timber, with a strong focus on the analysis and modelling of structural timber connections.  We extensively worked in the development of numerical and analytical models for timber connections,  particularly on the related fracture response of timber, and lately on stiffness. Prof. Cabrero currently collaborates as the Spanish expert in the development of the future Eurocode 5 (the European standard for timber structural design) at the Connections Working Group (CEN/TC250 / SC5 / WG5).


How to apply

You should send a letter of interest including two references and a detailed CV via e-mail (in PDF format) to



Dr Jose M. Cabrero

School of Architecture

31009 Pamplona, España

+34 948 42 56 00 ext. 802725

phd_ Research

Research project

Towards a Reliable and Efficient Analysis of Connections in Timber (REACT)

You will collaborate in the REACT research project, financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (PID2020-118569GB-C21), in which we collaborate with researchers from the Spanish Building Construction Institute. The project aims to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the structural response of timber connections with dowel-type fasteners.

Currently, tall timber buildings are becoming increasingly popular while challenging our surprisingly poor scientific knowledge of timber structures. As a fact, current design approaches are still based on experience and tradition, and they are neither efficient nor reliable: while most members in timber structures are around 40-60% over-designed due to connection requirements, almost 25% of recent collapses of timber structures were related to connections. The accurate description of the structural behaviour of structural timber connections is still an open issue, which poses many unresolved challenges.

REACT ambitiously engages in developing a reliable framework for the design of structural timber connections and structures. Based on an extensive experimental campaign and novel multi-scale models, it will provide a sound reliability assessment of timber connections.

This knowledge will stem from a multilevel analysis, ranging from the material up to the connection level, with a special focus on the interaction of timber with dowel-type fasteners. As a major contribution, the project will deliver information for design practice (both IPs actively collaborate in the development of Eurocode 0 -basis of design- and 5 -design of timber structures-), allowing to make use of the obtained knowledge in a simple yet efficient way.

The experimental campaign focuses on three observation levels: material and timber-fastener interaction, based on standard and novel techniques; and connections. In this latter, the focus will be on realistic load patterns, in which bending, shear, and axial are present, to provide an understanding of the existing interaction among them. This challenges the current knowledge, mostly based on simple loading schemes.

This level-based experimental knowledge will inform the development of a multi-scale numerical model for timber connections which will be used to carry out the required stochastic models for the MonteCarlo Simulation and the subsequent reliability analysis of structural timber connections.

The research project encompasses the expertise of two research teams: the ONESTA Wood Chair at the University of Navarra (UNAV), specialised on the modelling and design of timber structures, and the Torroja group (IETcc) on safety and reliability assessment of structures. Both teams achieve a perfect symbiosis for the analysis and reliability assessment of design models for timber connections. Both have made key contributions to the main themes of the project that make them uniquely qualified to carry it forward. Moreover, they count on the collaboration of some international renowned experts in the field.

To exploit its extraordinary ecological potential and to enable its structural use, improved comprehension of the structural response of timber connections is required. REACT can make a significant difference towards more efficient, reliable, and safe timber constructions.