PhD projects starting in September 2020

PhD projects are hosted across the seven institutions, the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Imperial, Leeds and Manchester.

Please note: recruitment for 2020 is now finalised. We will advertise new PhD studentships and welcome applications for September 2021 start from early November 2020.

Choosing your PhD project

Each studentship has a primary academic supervisor at the home institution. We encourage you to get in touch with the supervisor using the details below to learn more about the project. A second academic supervisor (who may be at a second institution) will host the student towards the end of year 1 for a thematic broadening research sabbatical. In either year 2 or 3, you will undertake a placement with an industrial partner, further developing your skills and gaining experience of aerosol science outside academia.

All PhD projects and sabbaticals are designed in complementary thematic areas of aerosol science. The five themes are: basic aerosol processes; measurement techniques; aerosols and health; aerosol technology; and atmospheric and environmental aerosol. The primary theme of the PhD project is indicated.

How do I apply?

Apply using our online application form. You can indicate up to three project choices, an overall theme or preferred institution, but this information is not essential at this application stage.

The CDT recruitment panel will review all applications in early February 2020. Applications after this date will be subject to the remaining availability of studentships.

Aerosol Jet Printed p- and n-type semiconductor Materials: Practical Routes to Printed Electronics

Theme: Aerosol technology

This studentship focuses on the development of new inorganic inks for the aerosol jet printing of p- and n-type semiconductor electronics. The project will involve the synthesis and characterisation of new nanoscale metal-oxide and metal-chalcogenide molecules for the formulation of new composite inorganic inks. The projects sits at the interface between molecular/materials chemistry and aerosol science, and is ideally suited for students with an interest in both inorganic and materials chemistry.

Supervisor: Dr Andrew L Johnson



Crystallisation in nano-droplets

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

In this project you will develop cutting-edge instrumentation to produce and study sub-nanolitre droplets as they evolve in a controlled vapour environment, observing crystallisation and phase changes in real time using imaging and x-ray scattering. With this instrumentation you will study the fundamental science underpinning atmospheric, industrial and pharmaceutical processes.

Supervisor: Dr Adam Squires

Replication and modelling of infectious respiratory droplets in humans and animals

Theme: Aerosols and health

Using novel aerosol technologies with human and animal samples and pathogens for the first time, the project aims to understand how the changing environment of respiratory droplets influences pathogen viability and transmission. Such understanding through this interdisciplinary approach could aid development of strategies to prevent the spread of respiratory infections.

Supervisor: Dr Darryl Hill

Aerosol Dynamics on Inhalation at High Relative Humidity

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

Aerosols are used to deliver drugs to the lungs to treat asthma and systemic diseases. The microphysical processes that transform the drug formulation on inhalation to the high humidity of the lungs (e.g. water condensation, dissolution) will be studied using single particle techniques with the aim of improving clinical efficacy.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Chiesi

Lead supervisor: Prof Jonathan Reid

High-confidence modelling of particle resuspension

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

The resuspension of particles deposited on surfaces is a crucially important generation mechanism for biological, environmental and hazardous aerosol particles. Using cutting edge experiments and models, the nature of the particle-surface interaction (e.g. particle shape, surface roughness) will be explored and the resuspension mechanism directly probed by high frame rate imaging.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with DSTL

Lead supervisor: Prof Jonathan Reid

Ice nucleation in aerosols containing biomolecules

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

Ice nucleation in environmental aerosols is an important atmospheric process, but many details are still poorly understood. This project addresses the physical chemistry of heterogeneous ice nucleation by bio-nanoparticles. You will develop apparatus to levitate and freeze water droplets, and gain relevant background through environmental modelling and interaction with the British Antarctic Survey.

Lead supervisor: Prof Walther Schwarzacher

Low-cost sensing of ultrafine aerosols: Sensor development and integration for first and second moment measurements

Theme: Measurement techniques

Sub-micron particulates are important pollutants, but difficult to measure with inexpensive methods. This project will use and further develop two low-cost sensors developed by the group to measure total particle area (nd2) or total particle length (nd) and thus diameter (d) in the atmosphere.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Alphasense

Lead supervisor: Prof Simone Hochgreb

Improving Evaporative Light Scattering detector performance using experiments and modelling

Theme: Measurement techniques

Evaporative Light Scattering detectors are used with high performance liquid chromatography by collecting light scattered by droplets formed from separate analytes. The project will combine experiments with modelling and simulations for the nebulisation and evaporation process to allow the sensitivity of the detector to be improved.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Agilent Technologies

Lead supervisor: Prof Simone Hochgreb

Collection methods for early detection of airborne viruses

Theme: Measurement techniques

Airborne aerosols are a primary transport mechanism for many diseases. Through experimentation, computational modelling and engineering prototyping, you will investigate aerosol capture mechanisms for effective real-time monitoring of disease transportation. This will include fundamental studies on the properties of the collected material and the principles of aerosol collection.

Lead supervisor: Dr Daniel McCluskey

Microphysiological models for the assessment of pulmonary concentration of inhaled aerosols

Theme: Aerosols and health

There are significant gaps in our understanding of the links between aerosol deposition sites, binding to lung tissue and the time course of local drug concentrations during inhaled therapy. This project will combine emerging microfluidic, lung-on-a-chip technologies with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry bioanalysis to explore the ‘holy grail’ of in-lung pharmacokinetics.

Lead supervisor: Prof Darragh Murnane

Respirable Fibre Measurement from Light Scattering Patterns

Theme: Measurement techniques

Fibrous particle inhalation can cause a range of respiratory diseases.  Current detection methods require filtration and manual counting under a microscope.  You will work with state-of-the-art optical instrumentation to develop a technique for the real-time detection and measurement of airborne fibres.

Lead supervisor: Dr Chris Stopford 

In vitro modelling of lung response to environmental nanoparticulates

Theme: Aerosols and health

Environmental nanoparticulates can gravely impact health, leading to cardiopulmonary diseases and lung cancer. This project will bring together cutting-edge in vitro lung models, advanced deposition technologies and image analysis algorithms to characterise the lung tissue response to environmental nanoparticulate and to shed light upon their mechanisms of toxicity.

Lead supervisors: Dr Laura Urbano and Prof Darragh Murnane


Evaluation of the health impacts of aircraft nanoparticles using a surrogate soot source and in vitro cell exposure

Theme: Aerosols and health

Aircraft engines emit nanoparticles that may have specific health consequences due to their size and composition, especially near airports. This project will develop a laboratory source of surrogate aircraft soot particles that will be deposited on cell cultures to evaluate cellular responses and advance understanding of nanoparticle health impact pathways.

Lead supervisor: Dr Marc Stettler

Smart filtration of aerosols in ventilation systems

Theme: Aerosol technology

Aerosols in ventilation systems of energy efficient buildings affect indoor air quality. The experimental and computational project examines the influence of flow speed, level of turbulence and aerosol size on aerosol tendency to concentrate and deposit in typical ventilation ducts. Findings will guide active and passive control for efficient filtering.

Lead supervisor: Prof Yannis Hardalupas


Photochemical Processing of Atmospheric Aerosol

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Atmospheric aerosols impact global warming and human health yet chemical transformations at their surfaces in the presence of sunlight are poorly understood. In this project laboratory studies using two complementary approaches will be used to study photo-processing at aerosol surfaces, with the results exploited using a detailed atmospheric model.

Lead supervisors: Prof Dwayne Heard and Dr Bryan Bzdek

Optical Properties of Venusian Clouds

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Venus is completely shrouded in thick clouds. This project will investigate the curious blue absorption in the clouds, which is responsible for the yellowish appearance of the planet and remains unexplained. Laboratory optical studies of candidate cloud droplets, combined with atmospheric modelling, will be used to unravel the mystery.

Lead supervisor: Prof John Plane


Towards a better understanding of the lifecycle of Pesticides in the Atmosphere

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Pesticides are widely used throughout the world and are essential components in the efficient production of food.  However, their atmospheric cycles remain very important and poorly understood transport pathways.  You will use a range of advanced aerosol tools and techniques to constrain atmospheric behaviour combining both laboratory and field studies

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Syngenta.

Lead supervisor: Prof Hugh Coe 

Particle Transport and Losses in Sampling Aircraft Gas Turbine Engine Combustion Emissions

Theme: Measurement techniques

Understanding soot formation and transport at the interface between engine exit and the combustor of a large gas turbine aircraft engine remains a significant challenge. This project will look to elucidate the problem, working closely with Rolls Royce, and will ultimately lead to a better understanding of the environmental impact of engines.

This studentship is sponsored in partnership with Rolls Royce.

Lead supervisor: Dr Paul I Williams


EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science

University of Bristol
School of Chemistry
Cantock’s Close
Bristol, BS8 1TS