Postgraduate research opportunities

Biofilm formation and loss under dynamic conditions

Biofilms cause significant challenges in systems under flow, causing bioclogging, corrosion, and contamination. How biofilms respond to these dynamic conditions is poorly understood. The project would suit someone with a background in microbiology, biological sciences or cognate disciplines.

Number of places

1

Funding

Home fee, Equipment costs, Travel costs, Stipend

Opens

14 June 2019

Deadline

30 September 2019

Duration

4 years

Eligibility

Standard eligibility for UKRI studentships

https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/help/eligibility/

Eligibility for RCUK studentships

  • Research Council (RC) fees and stipend can only be awarded to UK and EU students and not to EEA or International students.
  • EU students are only eligible for RC stipend if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years, including for study purposes, immediately prior to starting their PhD.
  • If an EU student cannot fulfil this condition then they are eligible for a fees only studentship.
  • International students cannot be funded from RC funds unless they are ‘settled’ in the UK. ‘Settled’ means being ordinarily resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of stay in the UK. To be ‘settled’ a student must either have the Right to Abode or Indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have the right of permanent residence in the UK under EC law. If the student’s passport describes them as a British citizen they have the Right of Abode.
  • Students with full Refugee status are eligible for fees and stipend.

Project Details

Biofilms cause significant challenges in systems under flow, causing bioclogging, corrosion, and contamination.   The controls on biofilm formation have been explored largely under steady-state conditions (i.e constant nutrients or flow regime).  However, real-world systems are frequently dynamic, with pulsed or fluctuating flows, or varying nutrient loads.  How biofilms respond to these dynamic conditions is poorly understood.  Such information is key to developing strategies which prevent biofilm formation, or can predict release of biofilm material.   These finding can be applied to, for example, water distribution networks, water and wastewater treatment systems and piped systems in the oil and gas sector.   

Rapid advances in molecular biology and in imaging techniques means we are now capable of coupling detailed imaging of biofilm response with gene expression and community dynamics, providing unprecedented insight.  Strathclyde University, for example, houses the worlds only mesolens facility, a system which enables faster, deeper, wider and more sensitive imaging than current methods.  This PhD, based at the University of Strathclyde, will couple advanced imaging methods with genomics and fluid dynamics to examine how biofilm form under, and are damaged by, pulsed flow conditions.  The work will also explore how pulsed flow can build up resilience and strength within the biofilm.

 Understanding the response of biofilms to pulsed and dynamic conditions can enable us to develop strategies to either prevent biofilm formation or to remove biofilms from pumped systems

Funding Details

Home fee, standard EPSRC stipend plus £5k per year project costs

Non-home students will have to provide the excess fees and may not be eligible for a stipend (see UKRI studentships page)

Number of places

0

Further information

The project would suit someone with a background in microbiology, biological sciences or cognate disciplines.

Contact us

Prof Vernon Phoenix - vernon.phoenix@strath.ac.uk