IB3 PhD Projects
The Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering is actively recruiting researchers interested in working at the interface between the biological, chemical, physical and engineering sciences. Positions are available at all levels from Junior Fellows to Chair appointments.
In addition, we have a number of PhD Scholarships currently available for projects commencing in Autumn 2013. If you are interested in one of the positions below please contact the institute member directly. For general enquiries please contact us to register your interest in these opportunities and we will respond as soon as possible for further discussion.
IB3 Opportunities and Vacancies
Please see the opportunities and vacancies list on the IB3 website.
PhD opportunities related to IB3
Supervisors: Dr Robert R. Thomson (STFC Advanced Fellow and Lecturer in Physics – Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences - Heriot Watt University) & Dr Helen Bridle (RAEng Advanced Fellow / Lecturer - Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering - Heriot Watt University).
Project title: Development of an Instrument for Rapidly Detecting Cryptosporidium in Drinking Water.
Project description: Cryptosporidium is a waterborne microorganism which causes severe diarrhoea and can be fatal for immuno-compromised individuals, infants and young children. It is estimated that Cryptosporidium contamination of drinking water results in 250-500 million cases each year in developing countries and 60,000 in the UK alone. The Cryptosporidium organism has a thick outer wall that is resistant to many conventional water treatment methods, and outbreaks are a problem even in the developed world, negatively impacting population health and economic development - daily monitoring of the water supply is required.
Current Cryptosporidium detection methods are expensive and highly time-consuming - requiring microscopic examination by skilled scientists. Furthermore, these techniques lack species and viability information, which is essential to make well informed public health decisions. There is, therefore, a pressing need for an instrument capable of rapidly analysing drinking water samples for the presence, species and viability of Cryptosporidium microorganisms.
In this project we will develop a novel instrument capable of rapidly detecting Cryptosporidium microorganisms in drinking water. The instrument will operate using Raman spectroscopy, a well established laser spectroscopy technique. In Raman spectroscopy, a laser is fired at the sample of interest, some of the photons scatter inelastically from the molecules in the sample, losing energy by inducing vibrations in the sample molecules. The scattered photons are shifted in wavelength (as first observed by Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, winner of the 1930 Nobel prize for Physics) and the spectrum of scattered light acts as a molecular "fingerprint", containing highly specific information about the molecular composition and bond structure of the sample.
Work has already been conducted which demonstrates that Raman spectroscopy can be used to identify Cryptosporidium in drinking water, but current instruments are too slow for real world applications. In this project we will build a new type of Raman spectroscopy instrument capable of measuring the Raman spectra of hundreds of points simultaneously. This instrument will facilitate the rapid testing capability necessary for real world water testing applications, providing detailed test information in a few hours.
This 3.5 year PhD project will be highly multidisciplinary in nature, thus providing the successful applicant with an opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and experience. Funding requires that the student be from the UK only.The project will start with the optical and opto-mechanical design of the instrument, followed by the development of image processing, user interface and instrument control software. The project will end with experiments to quantify the pathogen identification performance of the developed instrument. The student will also have the opportunity to work with our project partners; Renishaw and Scottish Water.
James Watt Scholarships
As part of an ambitious expansion programme to intensify further our world-leading research programmes, Heriot-Watt University is offering a second round of James Watt Scholarships. These studentships are fully funded for 36 months, with an annual tax-exempt maintenance of £15,000 (UK/EU) or £10,000 (Overseas), and include fees at the appropriate level. The deadline for applications is 31 January 2013.
For more information see list of James Watt Scholarship projects.