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Algae on a chip – Monitoring and decoding algae signalling

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, March 25, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Project team: Dr Paulo Rocha, Dr Tom Arnot & Prof Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern

Project enquiries:

Diatoms are an essential element of the food web of many aquatic ecosystems. However, seasonal algal blooms which occur as a result of anthropogenic contaminant loading can have severe impacts on human health, aquatic ecosystems, and the economy. Diatom blooms can be particularly harmful in water supply reservoirs, due to toxin production and filter blocking at water treatment works. Although their importance is commonly recognized, their behaviour is yet not fully understood. One open fundamental question is how these cells adapt to sudden changes in their physicochemical environment and evolve into harmful blooms.

Our group recently verified that the diatoms do in fact communicate via showing for the first time that electrical communication of cells can be recorded extracellularly by means of a unique measurement setup using low-impedance electrodes.

These findings open a new page in the understanding of algal signalling and enable novel sensing technologies to predict the development of algae blooms and of an extensive range of stress-induced alterations in the aquatic ecosystem. To develop a technology able to sense and predict the development of algae blooms and translate an extensive range of stress-induced alterations in the aquatic ecosystem this project will address the following objectives:

• Devise algae on a chip technology for microalgae monitoring
• Characterise the signals from different types of microalgae and their reaction to stress conditions via mass spectrometry, impedance spectroscopy and noise

The successful applicant will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with a Masters degree (first class or upper second-class) or MSc distinction (or overseas equivalent). English language entry requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding, see http://www.bath.ac.uk/study/pg/apply/english-language/index.html

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Electronic & Electrical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form:


This project is eligible for inclusion in three funding rounds, subject to funding availability. Application deadlines: Wednesday 27 November 2019, Wednesday 29 January 2020 & Wednesday 25 March 2020. Early submission is advised. A full application must have been submitted before inclusion in a funding round.

Anticipated start date: 28 September 2020

How good is research at University of Bath in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 20.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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