Application for 2024 PhD Studentships

We welcome applications for our 2024 PhD Studentships.

Please note that we are now only accepting applications from UK/Home fees students for the September 2024 cohort.

If you are interested in applying for the Aerosol Science CDT programme 2024 cohort, please send an applications here. We will then contact you with further information on the programme. 

Further Information

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 eight institutions, the Universities of Bristol, Bath, Birmingham, Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Imperial, Manchester and Surrey. Could you be part of our sixth cohort?

Choosing your PhD project

Examples of the current September cohort 2024 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 a 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.

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, by the EPSRC and / or by university institutional funding. Some of the projects are also part-sponsored by an industrial partner. 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.
What are the entry requirements?
We welcome applications from candidates who aspire to work in a multidisciplinary field and who have or expect to achieve a minimum of an upper second-class MSci honours degree or a postgraduate MSc or international equivalent in any of the following areas: chemistry, physics, biological sciences, life and medical sciences, mathematics and computer science, chemical and mechanical engineering, pharmaceutical and environmental sciences. We may consider applicants with a lower second-class MSci honours degree or an upper second-class BSc honours degree who can demonstrate good potential for research.

Both UK and overseas candidates are encouraged to apply. Our funder allows us to award up to 30% of our funded PhD studentships to overseas candidates.

Deadlines / How do I apply?

If you are interested in applying for the Aerosol Science CDT programme 2024 cohort, please apply here. We will then contact you with further information on the programme and application process.

Find out more on our FAQs page and if you have any further questions, please contact us at

What happens next?

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to take part in the CDT Interview & recruitment process, where you will have the opportunity to meet with potential PhD supervisors and members of the CDT to explore studentship opportunities, learn more about aerosols find out whether the CDT in Aerosol Science is a good fit for you, and 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.

Find out more on our FAQs page and if you have any further questions, please contact us at

PhD studentships for recruitment to Cohort 6 (September 2024-28):

Aerosol-Based Flavour Encapsulation for Grass-Based Food Alternatives

Theme: Basic Aerosol Processes

Transform the UK’s food scene by unlocking the vast potential of grass, which blankets 70% of agricultural land. Join the forefront of innovation at the University of Bath, contributing to groundbreaking nutrient extraction from grass. In this project, your integral role involves pioneering flavour encapsulation techniques using cutting-edge methods like spray drying and electrospray drying. The focus is on surmounting challenges in nutrient stability and taste masking. With grass-based alternatives pivotal for sustainability, join us on an exhilarating journey to reshape plant-based nutrition, optimize grass utilization, and unveil a new era of eco-conscious, nutrient-rich food alternatives—all driven by aerosol science.

Lead supervisor: Dr Bernardo Castro Dominguez

Harmful pyrolytic by products from smoking and vaping drugs of abuse

Theme: Aerosol and Health

Many drugs of abuse, such as heroin and cocaine are smoked. This produces by-products that cause additional harm alongside the intrinsic risks of the drugs. The by-products produced by most drugs and their toxicity are unknown. Vaping might be safer, as the lower operating temperature may produce fewer by-products.

This project will use a smoking simulator to characterise the by-products from smoking and vaping. Their site of deposition in the lungs will be estimated by measuring their particle size. The toxicity of individual by-products and the mixtures produced by smoking will be investigated using lung organoids and cell toxicity assays.

Lead supervisor: Dr Peter Sunderland 

Particle-surface adhesive forces and their role in resuspension phenomena

Theme: Basic Aerosol Processes

The resuspension of particles from surfaces into the air exposes people to hazardous dusts in a range of situations. This project will use atomic force microscopy to measure the adhesion force between particles and surfaces, and relate this to resuspension. Particles and surfaces with increasingly complex shape and surface properties will be prepared using techniques such as 3D printing and nanolithography, giving a systematic understanding of the influence of these factors. Results will be used to validate and improve an existing mathematical model that predicts particle resuspension in a range of environments, thus enabling risks to be controlled.

Lead supervisor: Dr Matthew Jones

Physico-chemical properties of model respiratory aerosols from deep lungs

Theme: Aerosols and Health / Basic Aerosol Processes

Airborne disease transmission depends on the physico-chemical properties of respiratory droplets that carry the pathogens: water loss affects how long droplets remain airborne; and pH changes and salt crystallisation affect how long the airborne pathogens remain infectious. Scientists have not yet modelled aerosol from deep breathing that contains lung surfactants, which affect the behaviour within the droplets. You will investigate these processes on acoustically levitated model respiratory droplets and films incorporating biomolecules, using polarised imaging, quartz crystal microbalance, Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray scattering. With these you will develop better models to understand respiratory droplets in indoor environments.

Lead supervisor: Dr Adam Squires

Investigation of semi-volatile particle emissions from road transport and their abatement

Theme: (1) Aerosol Technology; (2) Aerosol Measurement Techniques

Very fine particle emissions, and the formation of secondary aerosols through atmospheric processing, are believed to significantly impact public health. Emissions from transportation contain intermediate-/semi-volatile organic compounds that can cause uncertainty in quantifying actual levels of particle emissions and their physico-chemical properties. This PhD project is linked with the Horizon Europe and UKRI project ‘Air quality and health impact of primary semi-volatile and secondary particles and their abatement (AEROSOLS)’. It aims to define robust measurement methodologies to quantify the currently overlooked semi-volatile emissions, identify their associated risks, and propose technological abating mechanisms to help improve air quality and public health.

Lead supervisor: Dr Soheil Zeraati Rezaei

Low cost source apportionment of aerosol pollution

Theme: Aerosol and Health

Air pollution is a global killer responsible for approximately 7 million premature deaths per year worldwide. Successful air quality management and control not only requires measurement of air pollution levels, but it also requires information on the sources of air pollution and their relative magnitudes and importance. Without this information, it is impossible to plan and enact cost-effective control measures. By achieving local source apportionment in a lower cost manner, this project will allow source apportionment to be used more widely for regulatory and compliance purposes globally.

Lead supervisor: Prof. Francis Pope

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

Theme: Basic Aerosol Processes

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

Dynamic and Equilibrium Surface Composition Measurements on Surfactant-Containing Aerosol Droplets

Theme: Basic Aerosol Processes

Surfactants are important components of aerosol chemical composition, influencing how aerosols activate into cloud droplets and how they are chemically processed. However, the surface tension of microscopic aerosol droplets is poorly constrained due to challenges in both measuring and modelling this property. This exciting project pioneers measurements of the equilibrium and dynamic surface tensions of picolitre droplets containing surfactant mixtures, working closely with international collaborators to identify the basic parameters controlling both cloud droplet activation and aerosol chemical reactivity. The student will gain experience with single droplet levitation approaches, colloid science, and thermodynamic and kinetic models.

Lead supervisor: Dr Bryan Bzdek

Improving our understanding of aerosol formation, transformation and lifetime in controlled atmospheres

Theme: Basic Aerosol Processes

Aerosols are a multiphase system composed of condensed particle and gaseous phases. How semi-volatile organic compounds are distributed between the two phases governs key properties, such as the size distribution of particles and the chemical composition of the condensed phase. This has an impact on the transport of material in the environment and on its chemical aging. In this project, you will use models and single particle measurements to understand the partitioning of organic compounds, and work with partners DSTL to understand the consequences for trace detection of explosive species when sampling air for analysis.

Lead supervisor: Prof. Jonathan P. Reid

University of Cambridge logo

Machine learning strategies for Marine Cloud Brightening

Theme: (1) Environmental; (2) Measurements and models

Marine Cloud Brightening (MCB) could offer a feasible way to yield a cooling effect over the oceans. This project aims at using existing data sets and machine learning techniques to develop techniques that can reliably distinguish the number of particles in clouds and their effects, and their susceptibility to MCB, which in due course could help inform optimal MCB strategies. In particular, it will focus on tackling challenges uniquely related to aerosol-cloud interaction: (i) satellite image resolution; (ii) sparsity and noisy data; (iii) spatial and temporal correlation. It will also tackle challenges related to integrating knowledge of ship journeys.

Lead supervisor: Dr Alice Cicirello

University of Cambridge logo

Tabletop experiments on how molten pollutants damage jet engines

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol Studies

Experiments on how molten microparticles damage jet engines are extraordinary costly. Even basic questions remain unknown: do the particles stick, bounce, or splatter? You will perform tabletop experiments by rescaling droplet size and flow rates, replacing the molten particles by larger viscoelastic particles made of polymer materials. Your modelling will then translate these results into data relevant for jet engines.

Lead supervisor: Dr Anton Souslov

Aerosolised nanomaterials and mechanisms of lung fibrosis

Theme: Aerosols and Health

With aerosolised nanomaterials becoming more prevalent from diverse sources, it’s increasingly crucial to comprehend their implications on human health. The focus of this research project lies on lung fibrosis, a severe lung condition often triggered by inhaled nanomaterials, causing lung tissue damage and chronic inflammation. We seek to understand the underlying mechanisms behind fibrosis, thereby enhancing toxicological assessments and facilitating early detection and treatments. This study seeks to redefine our understanding of nanomaterial-induced lung fibrosis, employing diverse methodologies encompassing material characterisation, toxicology, and molecular biology to comprehensively study fibrosis onset and progression post-exposure to nanomaterials.

Lead supervisor: Dr Laura Urbano

Novel approach for airborne environmental DNA collection and integrated sample preparation

Theme: Aerosol Measurement Techniques

The project aims to develop a method for capturing and studying airDNA with potential applications in defence, security, health, and agriculture. Using a combination of electrostatic precipitation and digital microfluidics will allow for collection and concentration of airborne DNA, offering high efficiency, low energy consumption, and versatility with particle sizes. The proposed methodology will involve a two-step process capturing airDNA with electrostatic precipitation and using digital microfluidics to recover and concentrate the material. The approach will be tested with various particles in controlled environments, providing insights into the environment’s biological composition, aiding disease detection in agriculture.

Lead supervisor: Dr Loic Coudron

Phage therapy for respiratory infections

Theme: Drug delivery

Respiratory infections caused by antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria accounts for the largest proportion of deaths (1.5 million) attributed to AMR, with Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa being major pathogens. Aerosolized phage therapy has had variable success in treating human lung infections due to challenges in efficient phage delivery. This project aims to understand aerosolization factors impacting phage stability and activity, and develop inhalable phage active against AMR S. aureus or P. aeruginosa.

Lead supervisor: Dr Shan Goh

Quantified Realtime detection of Respirable Crystalline Silica

Theme: Aerosol Measurement Techniques

This project aims to improve the monitoring of Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS), a significant health hazard in many industries. Current methods are slow and crude, lacking field-deployable techniques for quantifying RCS aerosol concentrations. The project will evaluate the Trolex AirXS and other optical techniques for their potential in this area. The candidate will conduct a literature review, develop an experimental design, and potentially create a novel detection system or statistical model for quantifying RCS. The project will result in three papers for publication and contribute to a dissertation. Novel intellectual property may also be developed.

Lead supervisor: Dr Chris Stopford

Evaluating the role of sulphur in aircraft engine particle emissions and contrail formation

Theme: (1) Aerosol Technology; (2) Atmospheric Aerosol Studies

Half of aviation’s climate impact is attributed to the radiative forcing of contrails and contrail cirrus. Contrails are formed when ice particles are formed in the exhaust plume of aircraft engines, and we see them as line-shaped clouds trailing behind aircraft. There is recent evidence that changing engine particle emissions, due to engine technology or fuels can reduce contrails. However, there is limited experimental evidence as to the mechanisms by which semi-volatile particles, including sulphur and lubrication oils, could play a role in contrail formation. Further work is needed to understand the precise role that sulphur has in low-soot conditions and this project will build on previous work using controlled laboratory studies.

Lead supervisor: Dr Marc Stettler

Integrated modelling of aircraft contrails from plume to regional scale

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol Studies

This project seeks to improve our understanding of the climate effects of aviation beyond just the emitted carbon dioxide. Although several studies have indicated that aircraft condensation trails (contrails) forming on emitted particulates could cause climate impacts comparable to those from aviation carbon dioxide, uncertainty remains regarding the long-term effects of contrails. In this work, a new, open-source, multi-scale approach to contrail modelling will be developed which bridges the gap between existing plume-scale and global-scale models, constrained by satellite observations and high-fidelity modelling of early plume microphysics. This will then be used to produce a new understanding and quantification of the long-term impacts of contrails, including the role of cloud feedbacks.

Lead supervisor: Dr Sebastian Eastham

Application of Real-Time Single Particle Integrated AI-Optoelectronic Techniques for Detection and Discrimination of Airborne Biogenic Aerosols in Diverse Atmospheric Environments

Theme: (1) Atmospheric Aerosol Studies; (2) Aerosol Measurement Techniques

Bioaerosols represent the most complex aerosols in the atmosphere. You will work with international collaborators and a major instrument manufacturer to test and characterise a new instrument incorporating physics based digital holography, fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence-lifetime and polarisation techniques, all melded into one to detect and classify airborne bioaerosols and non-bioaerosols in real-time. You will conduct laboratory and field experiments with the instrument at a range of locations across the globe (from the Arctic to Antarctica) supported by international co-supervisors providing you with unique supervision training and data support to generate data to expand the scientific community’s knowledge of airborne biomes.

Lead supervisor: Prof. Martin Gallagher

Developing model systems to understand the impacts of pollutants on lung health

Theme: Aerosols and Health

Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK causing premature deaths and driving the development and worsening of respiratory disease and lung cancer and worsens the outcomes of respiratory infections such as influenza and COVID-19. Despite the significance of air pollution for health, little is understood about the underlying immunological mechanisms. Models that have appropriate aerosol deposition methods alongside appropriate cell culture systems are needed to understand the dynamic interactions between diverse particulates and lung cells. This project will combine multidisciplinary expertise to assess and optimise in vitro models to understand how pollution impacts the lungs.

Lead supervisor: Prof. Sheena Cruickshank 

New methods for quantifying airborne microplastics

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol Studies

Microplastics are seen as an important environmental pollutant and airborne particulates from tyre wear are of increasing interest in air quality. However, accurately identifying and apportioning the influence of these in urban atmospheres is challenging because they cannot be analysed using conventional atmospheric aerosol chemical analysis techniques. This project will develop the capability of the newly-acquired pyrolysis-gas chromatography facility at the University of Manchester, incorporating a Xevo G2-XS QTOF tandem mass spectrometer, for the purposes of atmospheric tyre wear analysis, with the objective of quantifying its influence on air and water pollution.

Lead supervisor: Dr James Allan

Single particle laser ablation mass spectrometry of atmospherically important aerosols

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol Studies

The composition and mixing state of particles in the atmosphere are important in determining optical properties, their role in liquid and ice cloud formation, and how they transport nutrients and pollutants throughout the planet.  However, determining the composition of particles and their mixing state remains a major challenge.  Online single particle composition instruments offer real time, highly sensitive information in the real environment.  In this project you will develop a new, highly sensitive laser ablation mass spectrometer to make ground based and aircraft observations, characterise it and demonstrate its use for addressing a number of key challenges in atmospheric science.

Lead supervisor: Prof. Hugh Coe

Traceable characterisation of a novel ultrafine aerosol source for improved instrument calibration

Rapid, multi-source calibration of aerosol instruments with traceable sizes below 80 nm down to sub-10 nm is currently not possible in the UK. This project aims to build on the commercial Silver Particle Generator from Catalytic Instruments and develop it into a multi-source Solid Particle Generator. This new instrument will be incorporated into a new calibration facility at NPL. This novel calibration facility ensures meeting the challenging mandates of future air quality directives and emissions regulations.

Lead supervisor: Dr Paul I. Williams

AI models for airborne particulate matter forecasting in urban areas

Theme: Atmospheric Aerosol Studies

People are often exposed to hazardous levels of particulate matter (PM) concentrations while performing daily activities, inadvertently putting their health and wellbeing at risk. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a game-changer in several areas of knowledge, including atmospheric sciences. Thus, this project aims to develop novel data-driven and physics-informed AI models based on state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to predict the concentrations of PM at urban scale under desired intervention scenarios, with improved performance and less computational requirements, using Guildford Living Lab as a case study to validate the solution against conventional models such as the ADMS-Urban.

Lead supervisor: Dr Erick G. Sperandio Nascimento

Controlling Particles, VOC and their Oxidation: Smart Demand Controlled Ventilation for Indoor Environmental Quality and Energy Efficiency

Theme: Aerosol Measurement Technique (also Aerosols and Health)

This project aims to revolutionize Smart Demand Controlled Ventilation by establishing a comprehensive framework for optimizing Indoor Environmental Quality and enhancing energy efficiency. Emerging research shows the negative impact of oxidation of biogenic emissions and aerosol particle growth on indoor air quality. The project will develop a state-of-the-art model encompassing comfort, health, and energy. We will deploy an integrated SDCV system at the University of Surrey, incorporating smart sensors and Adaptive Ventilation Control, and working closely with Rensair, an industry leader. The project concludes with recommendations and best practices, ensuring real-world applicability, cost-effectiveness, and seamless integration with existing building infrastructure.

Lead supervisor: Prof. Prashant Kumar and Prof. Matthew Johnson

Evaporation and dispersion of hazardous substances in the environment

Theme: Basic Aerosol Processes

Understanding the physical processes related to release and dispersion of agents in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) is very important to enable model improvements to be achieved in the context of accidental or deliberate hazardous substance spillage/releases. This project will mainly focus on two of the most important aspects of this topic: evaporation and dispersion.

Lead supervisor: Dr Matteo Carpentieri


Mechanistic study of how viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and flu do or do not survive long enough in aerosols to be transmitted across the air

Theme: Aerosols and Health

Pandemics are caused by respiratory viruses (COVID-19, flu) that spread in aerosols. These pandemics hit us at a rate of about one pandemic per century, and cause about 10 million deaths/pandemic. Despite this, we know surprisingly little about how viruses spread in aerosols. The PhD will use state-of-the-art experimental aerosol science and molecular biology to investigate the mechanism by which viruses are destroyed by the sudden drying in an aerosol. For example, is it the virus’s spike protein that is destroyed by drying? The project is interdisciplinary in nature. It will involve producing proteins and viruses, and quantifying their survival after aerosol drying.

Lead supervisor: Dr Richard Sear

Novel technologies in aerosol sensing for air quality assessment

Theme: Aerosol Measurement Techniques

Aerosols – or airborne particles of solid or liquid contaminants measuring around 10 microns in diameter – are already known to play a major role in outdoor and indoor air quality. Numerous studies have linked airborne particulate matter to negative health outcomes ranging from cognitive performance to chronic respiratory conditions. Although inexpensive sensors for aerosolized pollutants already exist, these tend to be indiscriminate: they will respond to all forms of particulates, including harmless ones. The purpose of this project is to explore and develop sensing strategies that can enhance existing technologies by providing an indication of aerosol type.

Lead supervisor: Dr David M. Birch

Ultrafine particles abatement from green infrastructure

Theme: Aerosols and Health

Green Infrastructure (GI) serves as a passive method to mitigate exposure to roadside vehicular emissions, including airborne ultrafine particles (≤100nm; UFPs) that have significant health implications despite being unregulated.

This project aims to investigate the interactions between UFPs and urban GI in roadside environments, with a specific focus on UFP number and surface area.

The objectives will be achieved through a combination of novel field studies to understand the competing influences of particle transformation processes, laboratory investigations for physico-chemical characterisation of UFPs, and utilising the acquired knowledge to propose best practice recommendations for holistic urban GI planning.

Lead supervisor: Prof. Prashant Kumar

EPSRC logo

EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science

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

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