Replication and modelling of infectious respiratory droplets in humans and animals

Theme: Aerosols and Health

Start date: Cohort 2: 2020

Supervisors: Dr. Darryl Hill


Although of significant importance to public health, the study of infectious bioaerosols is not straightforward, there are a multitude of microphysical interactions between an expired aerosol droplet and the environment, that may have a significant impact on microorganism viability [1]. One must consider the initial size and composition of the expired bioaerosol, the aerodynamic behaviour, and the evaporation kinetics of the droplet [2]. Regarding pathogen viability, this is not a one size fits all approach, different microorganisms may be better adapted to the aerosolisation process than others [3]. This project looks to expand on recent breakthroughs [4,5] in understanding the relationship between aerosol droplet dynamics and pathogen viability, developing a realistic model for airborne transmission of respiratory droplets that contain bacteria and viruses, using single-particle levitation technology. The project aims to use proteomic and genomic approaches to elucidate a typical microbial response to aerosolisation, identifying activated or upregulated genes that improve viability or contribute to the persistence of a microorganism in the aerosol droplet. It is anticipated that this research will contribute scientific rationale behind public health measures controlling airborne disease transmission.