Applications open for 2021 PhD studentships

Applications are now open to join the EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science. At a time when Aerosol Science has never been so crucial, we work to equip the next generation of Aerosol Scientists with the skills needed to tackle the numerous multidisciplinary challenges that fall at boundaries between the physical, engineering and health sciences.

After spending your first year training as part of the CDT cohort at the University of Bristol, our students undertake PhD projects hosted at one of our seven institutions, the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Imperial, Leeds and Manchester. Could you be part of our third cohort?

Choosing your PhD project
Each studentship has a primary academic supervisor at the home institution. 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, each cohort member 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.

What funding is available?
Each four-year PhD studentship is funded as part of the EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science, by the EPSRC and / or by university institutional funding. Some of the projects are also part-sponsored by an industrial partner (in which case this will be noted on the project description). Successful applicants who meet the funding criteria will receive a studentship covering tuition fees, research and training support grant, plus a stipend to cover your living expenses while you train, paid at the standard UKRI rate.
How do I apply?

Apply using our online application form by 9am on Monday 25th January 2021.  Applications will be reviewed by the CDT recruitment panel and eligible applicants with a suitable academic background will be invited to attend an online recruitment and assessment day on Monday 1st February 2021. Applications after this date will be subject to remaining availability of studentships.

On your application, you can indicate up to three project choices, an overall theme or preferred institution, but this information is not essential at this stage.

Is there an open day?

 Find us at the University of Bristol Postgraduate Virtual Open Day on Wednesday 25th November from 2-3pm GMT. Find out more and book your place: https://www.aerosol-cdt.ac.uk/open-day/ 

Aerosol cooling and lubrication for machining of aerospace difficult-to-cut alloys

Theme: Aerosol technology

High temperatures are generated during machining high performance alloys which needs to be controlled. This is an exciting studentship to computationally and experimentally, investigate a novel electrohydrodynamic atomisation of vegetable oil lubricant aerosol as an environmentally friendly alternative to the state-of-the-art for reducing friction and improving heat transfer in machining.

Lead supervisor: Dr Alborz Shokrani Chaharsooghi

Modelling aerosols in an acoustic trap

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

Acoustic levitation involves using sound from a speaker (or transducer) to float particles. These particles are suspended mid-air and do not touch the walls, and such levitation could become an essential platform for experimentally observing and analysing aerosols. In this project, you will use numerical modelling and theoretical tools to understand forces on aerosol particles inside acoustic traps.

Lead supervisor: Dr Anton Souslov

Mechanics of soft aerosols

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

Many biological and synthetic aerosols are composed of soft materials that behave somewhere between fluids and solids, including viscous droplets of mucus proteins and lipids that transmit COVID19. In this project, you will explore the soft-matter science behind aerosol suspensions by modelling how surface tension and viscoelasticity affect droplet production and adhesion. The outcomes could be relevant to the science of masks and droplet spreading.

Lead supervisor: Dr Anton Souslov

Venus, volcanoes and vacuum cleaners: understanding triboelectric aerosol charging

Theme: Basic aerosol processes

Electrostatic charge is generated through frictional (“triboelectric”) interactions between aerosol particles. This charging causes lightning in dust and volcanoes on Earth and in space, and hazards in industrial processing of powders and granular mixtures. The student will apply both theoretical and experimental techniques to investigate and understand the mechanisms involved.

Lead supervisor: Dr Karen Aplin

Interfacial photochemistry in aerosol droplets: chemistry and climate impacts

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Aerosol surfaces hold the greatest source of uncertainty for atmospheric chemistry and climate impacts. For example, surface composition determines the ability of atmospheric particles to serve as cloud droplets. This project will study directly light-induced reactivity at the droplet-air interface of individual droplets, linking interfacial composition to atmospheric reactivity.

Lead supervisor: Dr Bryan Bzdek

Novel measurements of aerosol thermodynamic and optical properties using phase shift photoacoustic spectroscopy

Theme: Measurement techniques

This studentship develops a state-of-the-art spectroscopic approach to enable measurements of light absorption and volatility distributions for aerosols containing volatile species. The outcomes of this project will transform UK and international research capability in observations of aerosol properties that remain among the largest uncertainties in climate science.

Lead supervisor: Dr Michael Cotterell

Advancing dispersion modelling of radioactivity releases resulting from increasingly frequent Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (ChEZ) wildfire events

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

During a wildfire within a radioactive environment, aerosols with a wide range of characteristics are derived. This multi-disciplinary studentship will work with both UK and Ukrainian partners to experimentally derive release dynamics and parameters for the various ‘fuel’ sources within the Chernobyl ‘Red Forest’ to enhance the current modelling and plume dispersion capability.

Lead supervisor: Dr Peter Martin

Dispersion behaviour and health effects of indoor aerosols

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Indoor aerosols may contribute to negative health effects. This project will measure the physical and chemical nature of indoor aerosol pollutants produced within the home. Placements to conduct an epidemiological literature review and investigate the health effects of these aerosol will enable a risk analysis of the measured aerosol.

Lead supervisor: Prof Dudley Shallcross and Dr James Matthews

Development of a constant concentration particle source

Theme: Aerosol technology

Worldwide, methods of measuring particles require calibration, yet none exist. This project develops a commercial device to produce a known concentration of particles by controlling the charge state and fluid dynamics. The work will harness results from recent modelling to develop and test the first aerosol “concentration controlled” prototype.

This project is anticipated to be sponsored in partnership with Catalytic Instruments

Lead supervisor: Dr Adam Boies

Transport and dispersion of non-exhaust pollutants

Theme: Atmospheric aerosol / aerosols and health

The most damaging form of pollution is particulate matter, which can be formed by brake wear, tyre wear and resuspension. This project will investigate the transport and dispersion of non-exhaust pollutants in the flow around a vehicle, with the aim of predicting the exposure of pedestrians and other road users.

Lead supervisor: Dr Megan Davies Wykes

Health impacts of volcanic aerosols

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

About 8% of the world population lives within a 100 km radius from an active volcano. This project will use dispersion modelling of the plume, field measurements and toxicity tests of volcanic aerosols to assess the impact of low-level but prolonged volcanic activity on air quality in a volcanic region.

Lead supervisor: Dr Chiara Giorio

Development of a quartz enhanced photoacoustic spectrometer for soot aerosol detection

Theme: Measurement techniques

Carbon black particulate matter is important for both health and climate change. The goal of the project is to develop a miniature quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy sensor (QEPAS) for carbon black sensing with suitable accuracy for atmospheric number concentrations, which can be integrated with other instrumentation for widespread sensing and inventory.

Lead supervisor: Prof Simone Hochgreb

Modelling the plasma synthesis of graphene

Theme: Aerosol technology

The project will develop a Kinetic Monte Carlo model to explain the processes controlling the plasma synthesis of graphene. The model will provide important understanding to guide the future production of high-value carbon materials. The project would suit students with a passion for programming and modelling.

Lead supervisors: Prof Markus Kraft and Dr Jethro Akroyd

Real-time crop monitoring for decision-based protection against aerosol-carried diseases

Theme: Measurement techniques

Crop pathogens are causing important yield losses. There is an urgent need for real-time monitoring systems to enable selective fungicide application, hence reducing cost and environmental impact. Building on state-of-the-art aerosol detection technology, this project aims to develop the next generation of aerosol real-time monitor for crop protection.

Lead supervisors: Dr Loic Coudron and Dr Ian Johnston

Airborne particle collection into single droplets to analyse and identify harmful aerosol constituents

Theme: Measurement techniques

Aerosols are a primary mechanism for spreading harmful particles and diseases. It is crucial to improve the speed and accuracy of detection by concentrating the material during collection. This project aims to achieve this by investigating techniques for collecting aerosols directly into droplets using prototyping, experimental and modelling approaches.

Lead supervisors: Dr Ian Johnston and Dr Loic Coudron

Modelling & detecting micro-scale birefringent particles

Theme: Measurement techniques

Realtime characterisation of airborne particulates helps to avoid exposure to respiratory hazards. Currently there are no available techniques for the detection of birefringent materials, such as crystalline silica. You will investigate birefringence in microscale particles using physical optics models and develop apparatus to verify your findings.

Lead supervisor: Dr Chris Stopford 

Classification of microparticles using two-dimensional scattering data and machine learning techniques

Theme: Measurement techniques

Two-dimensional light scattering patterns contain information regarding the size, shape, and orientation of micro-scale aerosol particulates. However, these have proven difficult to classify using traditional algorithms. You will develop a machine-learning classifier to classify such particles as cirrus ice, bioaerosol, pollution, and other respirable hazards thereby providing hitherto unavailable real-time data analysis.

This project is anticipated to be sponsored in partnership with Alphasense.

Lead supervisor: Dr Chris Stopford 

How atmospheric particulate affects lung infection and immune response

Theme: Aerosols and health

Air pollution poses a serious threat to human health and is an aggravating factor in both viral and bacterial pulmonary infections. This project will employ advanced in vitro and computational models to develop an understanding of the complex and still vastly unexplored interaction between bacteria, pollutants and immune cells.

Lead supervisors: Dr Laura Urbano and Prof Sheena Cruikshank

Aerosol deposition in the sinunasal airways – from the infant to the adult

Theme: Aerosols and health

The deposition and uptake of nanoparticles in the sinunasal airways (olfactory cleft and sinuses) is of growing concern. This project will apply CFD and experimental methods to study the transport of inhaled particles, focusing on how variations in airway morphology and breathing profile from infant to adult affect deposition.

Lead supervisor: Prof Denis Doorly

Aerosols and Health CDT

Nanoscale analysis of London pollutant particles and their interaction with airway epithelial cells

Theme: Aerosols and health

This PhD project will compare the health impacts of micro and nanosized air pollution particles in outdoor and indoor environments in London. The student will establish which properties and components of different pollutants determine their cellular fate, their potential for cell & tissue damage and how these impact health outcomes.

Lead supervisor: Prof Alexandra Porter

Microscale dynamics and light scattering characteristics of ice crystals in contrails

Theme: Basic aerosol processes / Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

Project description coming soon

Lead supervisor: Dr Marc Stettler

Using microfluidic technology to measure and identify biological atmospheric ice-nucleating particles

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

The formation of ice in clouds is one of the least well understood aspects of our planet’s climate system. Our knowledge of the sources, sinks and global distribution of ice-nucleating particles is lacking. In this project you will use new technologies to better understand biological ice-nucleating particles.

Lead supervisor: Prof Benjamin Murray

Modelling of airborne transmissions of respiratory droplets containing COVID-19 virus

Theme: Aerosols and health

COVID-19 virus spreads by the inhalation of “airborne” microscopic respiratory droplets and after evaporation by aerosols of their solid residues. In this project, a first-principle model of the evaporation and subsequent dispersion of the aerosol in air within a room will be developed to provide effective guidelines for safe and social distancing.

Lead supervisor: Dr Tariq Mahmud

Air pollution and cardiac health

Theme: Aerosols and health

Air pollution enhances the risk of cardiovascular disease through direct and indirect effects on the heart. Through epidemiological investigation, and in collaboration with industry, this studentship will determine the role of altered immune function and oxidative stress in contributing to pollution-associated cardiac dysfunction using in vitro and in vivo models.

Lead supervisor: Dr Holly Shiels

Deep learning based classification of aerosol particles from holographic imagery

Theme: Measurement techniques

The impacts aerosol particles have are linked to their origin. Very few experiments are able to record the information to make that distinction in real time [e.g. volcanic ash detection]. However, digital holography combined with deep learning algorithms offer an exciting new potential to make that distinction.

Lead supervisor: Dr David Topping

Time-series forecasting of particulate matter

Theme: Environmental and atmospheric aerosol

Aerosol particles are key determinants of air quality. Traditional models struggle to provide accurate and rapid forecasts of concentrations. Time series forecasting techniques offer the potential to mitigate these challenges whilst also integrating unexploited data on mobility and meteorology so we can evaluate potential impacts of urban design.

Lead supervisor: Dr David Topping

How do I apply?

Apply using our online application form. If you are interested in finding out more about a project, please contact the supervisor directly using their details above. You can also say on your application form if you are interested in an overall theme, area, or specific institution. You can also check out our FAQs page.

Please apply by 9am, Monday 25th January 2021. Applications after this date will be allocated depending on the remaining availability of studentships.

 

What happens next?

The CDT recruitment panel will review all applications and invite eligible candidates with a suitable academic background to an online recruitment and assessment day on Monday 1st February 2021 where you will meet members of the CDT, learn a little more about aerosols and have opportunities to ask questions. You will also take part in a team-based activity to enable you to try out the CDT in Aerosol Science’s innovative team-based learning methods.  If you would like to apply but cannot make the February recruitment date, or you have any queries, please contact us at aerosol-science@bristol.ac.uk 

EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science

University of Bristol
School of Chemistry
Cantock’s Close
Bristol, BS8 1TS
aerosol-science@bristol.ac.uk