Postgraduate research opportunities Protein adsorption in gel structures simulation, experiment and application


Key facts

  • Opens: Friday 3 February 2023
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 3 years


This project uses molecular simulations and High-Performance Computing combined with state-of-the-art experiments to design gels that can be used for protein adsorption. This technology will have applications in water clean-up as well as protein extraction and purification.
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Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

The aims of the project are to understand protein adsorption in RF gel structures and to tailor gel properties for applications; these include purification steps in protein manufacture, as well as water clean-up.

Protein adsorption to materials is an essential step in biotechnology processing, being used to extract proteins from the synthesis broth. It can also be used to clean water by extracting unwanted biological species. At the University of Strathclyde, we have been studying the fundamentals of protein adsorption to model materials, in order to understand how the properties of the material (such as surface charges and hydrophobicity) affect the process. We have also great experience synthesising resorcinol-formaldehyde (RF) gels, and can control porosity and pore sizes through choice of synthesis conditions. We also have experience of applying these materials to a variety of processes including adsorption of unwanted species from water. This project will build on these capabilities to broaden understanding and ultimately create new technology for protein capture.

The project will include molecular simulations using the ARCHIE-WeSt ( High Performance Computer (HPC); using simulation insights to tailor the RF gel properties through synthesis parameters; experimental exploration of designed gels, with feedback to the modelling work to optimise the design; and design and implementation of an adsorption process for use in protein synthesis and purification or water clean-up.

We seek applicants with good experience of experimental work, coupled to familiarity with computational methodology and a willingness to learn new techniques. The PhD program will provide specific training in the use of HPC and molecular modelling codes, as well as experimental training in adsorption studies. The successful applicant will join a vibrant group of researchers with expertise in material design, synthesis, characterisation and applications to real-world problems.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Information about the host department can be found by visiting:

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Dr Paul Mulheran

Chemical and Process Engineering

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Professor Fletcher

Professor Ashleigh Fletcher

Chemical and Process Engineering

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Number of places: 1

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Chemical and Process Engineering

Programme: Chemical and Process Engineering

Start date: Oct 2023 - Sep 2024

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Contact us

James Weir Building, 75 Montrose Street, Glasgow, G1 1XJ