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Comparing the Airborne Survival of Enveloped and Non-enveloped Viruses


Bristol United Kingdom Analytical Chemistry Biophysics Chemical Physics Environmental Chemistry Microbiology Physical Chemistry Virology

About the Project

Applications are invited for a 4 year PhD studentship starting in Autumn 2022 as part of the EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science

Project description

The COVID-19 pandemic, arising from the transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2), has brought into sharp focus the critical need to understand the synergies between the physicochemical and biological processes regulating microorganisms (bacteria, viruses) in aerosols. Direct and indirect transmission of respiratory pathogens can occur by exposure to droplets emitted from coughs and sneezes, and through contact with objects contaminated through deposition of respiratory droplets (fomites). Airborne transmission occurs when a pathogen is transported in small respirable-sized particles, which can remain airborne for minutes to hours. Although airborne transmission of some pathogens is obligate (restricted to, e.g. Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex causing TB) or preferential (e.g. measles morbillivirus), in other cases it is opportunistic (e.g. influenza, coronaviruses). Here, we define aerosols as any airborne particle <100 mm in diameter, a size that can remain suspended in air without sedimentation and can be transported beyond 2 m; this size range is relevant for all modes of disease transmission.

Once dispersed in aerosols, microorganisms are contained within a micro-environment with a large surface-to-volume ratio that cannot be simulated in bulk phase studies. Aerosols are characterised by rapidly varying ion/solute concentrations that far exceed bulk solubility limits driven by changes in environmental relative humidity (RH) and temperature (T), distinct phase behaviour (e.g. glassy), and complex interactions with light, oxidants and pollutants. These physicochemical characteristics are inextricably linked to biological processes and, thus, the survival of pathogens in aerosols.

Professor Jonathan Reid would be pleased to discuss this research project further with interested candidates.

About the Centre for Doctoral training in Aerosol Science

Aerosol science is crucial to disciplines as broad ranging as transmission of disease, drug delivery to the lungs, climate change, energy and combustion science, novel materials, and consumer and agricultural products.

An aerosol is any collection of particles dispersed in a gas. The CDT brings together a multi-disciplinary team of 80 post-graduate students and academics from 7 UK universities spanning the physical, environmental and health sciences, and engineering. Our aim is to tackle the global challenges in which aerosol science is key.

Further details are available from our website:

Doctoral Training in Aerosol Science

During your doctorate, you will learn to research in diverse multidisciplinary teams, gain an advanced understanding of the core physical science of aerosols, and collaborate with industrial and public sector partners, equipping you to undertake ground-breaking research in aerosol science.

During the first 7 months of your PhD, you will join the CDT cohort based at the University of Bristol. Core training in aerosol science, research methods, professionalism and translation will be delivered by Team Based Learning. You will then undertake a short research project at your home or partner institution before starting your PhD research. You will gain experience outside academia in a placement with an industrial/public sector partner in Year 2 or 3.

More Information and How to Apply

Candidates who aspire to work in a multidisciplinary field, and hold or will achieve a minimum of an upper second-class undergraduate degree in any of these areas are encouraged to apply: chemistry, physics, biological sciences, life and medical sciences, mathematics and computer science, chemical and mechanical engineering, pharmaceutical and environmental sciences.

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Application Deadline:

Apply by 9am on Monday 24th January 2022. Shortlisting will take place after the deadline, and shortlisted candidates will be invited to participate in the CDT online interview process during w/c 7th February 2022. Applications after this date will be subject to remaining availability of studentships.

Diversity and Inclusion

We are committed to furthering issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. We recognise the benefits of recruiting a diverse group of students to the Aerosol CDT and strive to avoid any conscious or unconscious bias in our recruitment. The needs of individuals will be accommodated during the recruitment process and while studying with the CDT. Further information on our commitment to equality and diversity can be found on our website. 

Funding Notes

This project is funded as part of the EPSRC CDT in Aerosol Science. Successful candidates meeting the funding criteria will receive a studentship covering tuition fees, research and training support grant, plus a stipend to cover your living expenses while you train, paid at the standard UKRI rate.

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