Strathclyde awarded £2.2M of doctoral studentships from the Leverhulme Trust

A bumble bee

The University has been awarded £2.2M to fund 18 PhD studentships to advance nature-inspired research.

The award from the Leverhulme Trust will fund four-year studentships, including three Master’s Plus PhDs for students from underrepresented minorities. An additional three studentships will be funded by the University.

Human problems

Researchers will work within the newly created Leverhulme Trust Doctoral School in Nature Inspired Acoustics at Strathclyde. The interdisciplinary research aims to pioneer discoveries in basic materials science and measurement sciences to develop technologies for creating complex biomimetic acoustic structures and to develop biomimetic sensors such as miniaturised, low-energy, insect-inspired antennae. Biomimicry studies nature's scientific principles and uses them as inspiration for designs or processes with the goal of solving human problems.

The research will further advance basic studies into how insects and other animals acoustically coordinate collective resources through vibrations, frequencies and intensities for efficient and socially intelligent energy management of built environments.

Foresight and “futures” methods from business management and social science will be applied and developed to consider the acoustic technologies holistically and help researchers better anticipate technological change in, and consumer demand for, nature-inspired devices.

Principal Investigator Professor James Windmill, Director of the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering and Director of the Leverhulme Doctoral School in Nature Inspired Acoustics leads the School with three co-directors from the Engineering, Science & Business faculties.

Hearing systems

Professor Windmill, whose research focuses on the investigation of hearing systems in insects to inspire the development of new acoustic and ultrasonic sensors and systems, said: “We’re delighted to be granted this award to train a new cohort of future interdisciplinary leaders, through the development of transformative nature-inspired acoustics-based research.

“It’s a great opportunity for colleagues across engineering, architecture, science and business departments within the University to work on multi-themed projects.

This fusion of disciplines will develop new fundamental, nature-inspired, interdisciplinary research in materials, sensors, built environments and future planning.

“A great feature of the award is funding to support three additional students from underrepresented minorities to study a Masters and a PhD within the programme.”

The co-directors are Dr K.H. Aaron Lau, Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Professor Sonja Dragojlovic-Oliveira from the Department of Architecture, and Professor George Wright, Department of Management Science.

The programme is one of eleven in all disciplines to be funded across the UK and the first such programme at Strathclyde.

It funds up to 18 scholars in an interdisciplinary priority research area for each successful institution -  fifteen four-year Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships, and three Master’s Plus scholarships.