Applications open for 2022 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 the 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 fourth cohort?

Choosing your PhD project

Examples of potential PhD projects are available on this page. 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.

On your application you can indicate preferences for specific theme(s) and/or institution(s) but this information is not essential and we appreciate your preferences may change. During the recruitment process, candidates will have the opportunity to learn more about specific projects and meet with potential supervisors.

What funding is available?

Each four-year PhD studentship is fully funded as part of the EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science. Some 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 paid at the standard UKRI rate. Both UK and overseas candidates are encouraged to apply.

How do I apply?

Apply using the online application form. You can view a PDF of the application form 2022 questions to help prepare your responses before applying.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to take part in the CDT Interview & recruitment process.

Find out more on our FAQs page and if you have any further questions, please contact us at aerosol-science@bristol.ac.uk

What happens next?

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to take part in the CDT Interview & recruitment process, where you will meet members of the CDT, learn a little more about aerosols and have opportunities to ask questions.  If you you have any queries, please contact us at aerosol-science@bristol.ac.uk

PhD projects open for recruitment in September 2022 include:

Pharmaceutical electrospray drying crystallization

Theme: Aerosol Technology

Due to their molecular arrangement, >90% of solid-state pharmaceuticals have low solubility and poor bioavailability. However, electrospray drying generates surface charged nanodroplets that can tune the molecular arrangement of crystallizing drugs. This project will implement modelling and experimental studies to understand the electro-confinement phenomena, while producing novel pharmaceuticals.

Lead supervisor: Dr Bernardo Castro Dominguez

Field Effected Aerosol Assisted Chemical Vapour Deposition (FE-AACVD) of Thin Film Materials

Theme: Basic Aerosol Processes

Aerosol assisted CVD is a manufacturing processes that involves depositing thin films of inorganic materials to improve the optical, electrical, or mechanical properties of a component. This work will investigate the effect of electrical and/or magnetic on thin films such that optical, semiconducting, and physical properties may be fine-tuned for any number of applications.

Lead supervisor: Dr Andrew Johnson

Electrohydrodynamic atomisation of vegetable oil for sustainable machining

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

Model systems for exchange of liquid between different aerosol sources: application in disease risk during aerosol therapies

Theme: Aerosols and Health

In this project, you will model and experimentally explore possible avenues for disease transmission during treatments using pharmaceutical aerosols, for example in a hospital context. The goal is to answer such questions as: can pathogens jump from the lungs into externally generated aerosol droplets? 

Lead supervisor: Dr Anton Souslov

Tabletop experiments on how molten mineral dust damages jet engines

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosols

[Provisional / not yet confirmed] If confirmed, this project will be delivered  in close collaboration with an industrial partner and involve several placements and visits. These placements will help to inform the models and experiments and will be used to provide updates about the project outcomes to the partner’s team. The visits will also provide feedback from the partner on the project’s progress and help inform future project directions.

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

Time-Resolved Photochemistry of Organic Solutes in Aqueous Microdroplets

Theme: Atmospheric and environmental aerosol

The photochemistry of atmospheric aerosols is crucial to assessing their climate and health impacts. However, the reaction dynamics of photochemical reactions may differ in aerosol compared to in macroscopic solutions. This project will develop a brand-new approach to study chemical reaction dynamics on ultrafast timescales in individual levitated droplets.

Lead supervisor: Dr Bryan Bzdek

Photoinitiated Chemistry in Single Levitated Aerosol Droplets using Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy

Theme: Measurement techniques

Photochemistry in atmospheric aerosols represents one of the largest uncertainties in climate models, while understanding the enhanced rates of in-aerosol reactions could transform green approaches to chemical synthesis. This project will utilise recently developed state-of-the-art spectroscopy instrumentation to improve understanding of photoinitiated processes in aerosols.

Lead supervisor: Dr Michael Cotterell

Radioactive Aerosols in Wall-bounded Turbulent Flow

Theme: Aerosol Technology

Nuclear energy production is set to expand as one of the means for reliable energy output, as we curb CO2 emissions. This project employs advanced mathematical and computational models to develop an understanding of the complex interaction of radioactive aerosols, as these are transported and deposit in ventilation systems.

Lead supervisor: Alberto Gambaruto

Comparing the Airborne Survival of Enveloped and Non-enveloped Viruses

Theme: Aerosols and Health

Respiratory aerosol particles transmit pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 between infected and susceptible individuals. While airborne, the infectivity of viruses declines at a rate that is influenced by the microphysical processes occurring in the aerosol (e.g. water evaporation). This project will compare the airborne survival of enveloped and non-enveloped viruses.

Lead supervisors: Prof Andrew Davidson & Prof Jonathan Reid

Towards a better understanding of the catalytic decomposition of methane to form carbon nanotubes

Theme: Basic Aerosol Science

The project will model the mechanisms associated with the growth of carbon nanotubes, mainly using reactive molecular dynamics simulations. The project will provide important understanding of how to grow high-value carbon materials whilst producing energy from methane. 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

Digital Microfluidic Lab-on-a-chip for multiplex detection of biomarkers in exhaled breath

Theme: Aerosols and Health

Exhaled aerosols contain precious information on lung health, which could inform diagnosis and therapies and help saving lives. This project will combine emerging microfluidic and lab-on-a-chip technologies to create a portable and fully automated Lab-on-a-chip for detection of multiple disease biomarkers in exhaled aerosols.

Lead supervisors: Dr Loic Coudron, Dr Laura Urbano and Dr Ian Johnston

Development and characterisation of a shadowgram-based meteorological sonde

Theme: Measurement techniques

Develop a new technique for improving our measurement capability for atmospheric particle measurement.  Existing techniques are expensive, and are generally borne on research aircraft. You will develop a novel technique for sizing particles in a low-cost manner, looking at both shadows and scattered light from microscopic particles.

Lead supervisor: Dr Chris Stopford 

Next-Generation Nasal Drug Delivery Exploiting non-Newtonian Fluids and Smart Thermoresponsive Materials

Theme: Aerosols and Health

Nasal sprays are of great importance to the pharmaceutical field, particularly with the possibility of self-vaccination via this route. This project will explore rheological effects in nasal sprays, including the exploitation of “smart” materials which respond to temperature, with the aim of developing next-generation dosage forms.

Lead supervisor: Prof Darragh Murnane and Dr Michael Cook

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

Aerosolised lung surfactant-based formulation stabilisation to optimise inhalable controlled drug delivery

Theme: Aerosols and health

This PhD project will develop novel inhalable formulations for lung drug delivery based on the properties of lung surfactant: a natural protective film coating the alveolar epithelium synthesized and recycled in form of self-assembled proteo-liposomes. The student will generate lipid nanoparticles with enhanced stability employing ionic fluids to determine which properties and components favour alveolar epithelium delivery and uptake and benchmark these formulations against commercial pharmacological anticancer drugs.

Lead supervisor: Dr Jorge Bernardino de la Serna

The impact of aircraft engine emissions and alternative fuels on contrail formation

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol

Contrails are a large contributor to the climate impact of aircraft, new fuels have been proposed to reduce this impact, but their efficacy is currently unclear. This project will use satellite data to measure the development of contrails, developing accurate estimates of the impact of alternative fuels to meet climate targets.

Lead supervisor: Dr Edward Gryspeerdt

Interaction of SARS – CoV2 and Influenza Viruses with Particulate Matter Air Pollution

Theme: Aerosols and Health

Higher transmission rates and worsening of health outcome from exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and influenza has been linked to high levels of pollution exposure. This PhD will characterise whether the airborne spread, transmission and infectivity of influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 increases by hitchhiking on to particulate matter pollution.

Lead supervisor: Prof Alexandra Porter and Prof Kian Fan Chung

Airborne microplastic detection and quantification – developing, evaluating, and applying novel laboratory and field-based approaches

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol

Microplastic particles are emitted from a range of sources but remain a poorly understood fraction of airborne particulate matter, with potential health impacts. This project will use cutting-edge laboratory and online analytical techniques to identify chemical and optical markers in different environments and better understand microplastic emissions.

Lead supervisor: Dr Stephanie Wright

The structure of exhaled droplets and aerosols

Theme: Basic aerosol processes / Technology

As we know only too well many diseases are transmitted via exhaled droplets/aerosols. Despite their importance we don’t currently have a good understanding of their composition, drying behaviour or structure. This project will develop techniques to characterise these aerosols and, by drying droplets of synthetic respiratory fluid, investigate how the structures are formed.

Lead supervisor: Prof. Andrew E. Bayly

Spray Process CFD models

Theme: Aerosol Technology

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is an important tool for understanding and designing aerosol and spray systems. This project looks to understand whether machine learning using Physics Informed Neural Networks4 (PINNs) can speed up calculations and enable more accurate models to be used. Spray drying will be used as a test case.

Lead supervisor: Joseph Motlagh / Andrew Bayly

Understanding how pollutant aerosol particulates impact airway inflammation

Theme: Aerosols and health

Exposure to particulate matter (PM) contributes to respiratory diseases and worsening of asthma symptoms yet we know little of the underlying immunological mechanisms. Increasing evidence implicates a process of “innate imprinting” whereby prior inflammation alters subsequent responses increasing inflammation. This project will explore the cellular response to PM aerosols and innate imprinting in airway inflammation.

Lead supervisor: Prof Sheena Cruikshank 

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

Theme: Atmospheric 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

Developing and deploying new sensors for in-situ monitoring of clouds

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol

Clouds form a crucial component of the Earth system, reflecting large amounts of incoming sunlight back into space. Low-cost sensors are needed to allow long-term monitoring of climatically relevant cloud properties, but to-date no such sensor exists. This project will develop and test new sensors for cloud monitoring.

Lead supervisor: Dr Jonathan Crosier

Improving air filtration technologies using in operando x-ray imaging

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol

Filters clean aerosolized pollutants from the air we breathe and must be effective in a range of environments against varying particles sizes and hazards. With advanced x-ray imaging techniques we are able to watch aerosol filtration in four dimensions (3D + time) to understand and improve how filters work.

Lead supervisor: Dr David Eastwood

New Real-Time Singe Particle Bioaerosol Flux Measurement Techniques to Quantify Atmospheric Bioaerosol Emissions

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol

This studentship will combine state of the art real-time single particle bioaerosol spectrometry including holographic spectrometry with field micrometeorological flux measurements, laboratory aerosol-wind tunnel studies, new miniature aerosol sensor development and aerosol dispersion models to transform our understanding and quantification of bioaerosol emission fluxes from man-made agricultural landscapes, their contribution to crop disease spread, food security, and local human and animal health exposure. 

Lead supervisor: Prof Martin Gallagher

Secondary Organic Aerosol from Emission Sources; characterisation and use of a new commercial oxidation flow reactor

Theme: Aerosol Measurement Techniques

Secondary Organic Aerosol (SOA) will become an increasingly important atmospheric PM component as primary emissions reduce. Measurement and regulation requires development and evaluation of instruments enabling accelerated SOA formation. This project will work with industry partners to evaluate accelerated oxidation in a new commercial oxidation flow reactor (OFR).

Lead supervisor: Dr Gordon McFiggans

EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science

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

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