LITAC - Improved Health and Wellbeing Through Absorption of Light by the Skin


   Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour

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  Dr Richard Blackburn, Prof Stephen Westland  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Doctoral research students in LITAC will develop the ability to pursue research that advances the disciplines of textile technology, textile and fashion design, polymer science, and colour science and technology to find solutions to global challenges using advanced research tools and techniques. They will learn how to derive implications from their research results and communicate their findings to policy makers, practitioners, academics and industrial partners.

Regular exposure to light is vital to entrain the circadian systems and maintain good health. Insufficient light in the morning and/or too much light in the hours before bed can disrupt sleep and is associated with higher risk factors for a range of medical conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. 

Recent work is beginning to suggest that the visual system may not be the only human organ for which regular exposure to light and dark is vital. Recent studies suggest that a class of proteins called cryptochromes found in human skin are sensitive to light. 

The research questions addressed by this study are:

  1. Do humans respond to light through their skin in a way that could regulate their circadian rhythm?
  2. Can we develop novel light treatments that can impact on wellbeing of people including those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder?
  3. Can we develop skin treatments/cosmetics that either absorb blue light or allow it to be transmitted to the skin according to the requirement and time of day?

Industrial Collaborations:

The successful applicant will join the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour (LITAC), a collaborative international research Institute that applies academic expertise, working together with external partners, both industrial from across the world, to address global challenges and sustainable development in textile and colour industries. We are focused on the development of innovative science and technology, materials, methods and processes. Technology-driven sustainable development is a major part of our work, hosted by the School of Design at the University of Leeds. 

The School of Design is a world leading research centre with a focus in creativity and developing innovative materials and manufacturing solutions with interdisciplinary researchers and industrial partners.

Other Conditions:

  • Applicants must not have already been awarded or be currently studying for a doctoral degree.
  • Applicants must live within a reasonable distance of the University of Leeds whilst in receipt of this scholarship.

How to apply

Stage 1

First, apply for a research place of study, through the online application form. Please state clearly that the funding you wish to be considered for is ‘LITAC - Improved Health and Wellbeing Through Absorption of Light by the Skin’ with Professor Westland as your proposed supervisor. You will be expected to meet our eligibility criteria for PHD candidates.

In order to be considered for the Studentship you must submit all the required supporting documents for your application for PhD study.

Please note that you will not need to submit a Research Proposal as part of your application for this project. In place of a Research Proposal please can you submit a statement which convey’s your motivation and enthusiasm for the project as outlined in the Scholarship advert. See stage 2 below.

Once you have received your student ID number (a 9-digit number) move onto stage 2.

Stage 2

Apply for the LITAC Project – ‘Improved Health and Wellbeing Through Absorption of Light by the Skin’ by completing the Scholarship Application Form. You must submit your scholarship application by 17.00 p.m. on 4th of January 2024.

The scholarship application includes the supporting statement referenced in Stage 1. This statement should demonstrate your suitability for your intended PhD Project and not be longer than two pages. The statement should specifically include details on your interest in the project and why you have chosen to apply for this in particular. The statement should also include how you will apply your current skills, knowledge and experience to undertake the PhD and the approach you would take to develop the project.

As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.

Entry requirements

Applicants with a degree in a science-related subject are invited to apply and those with a Master level qualification are particularly encouraged. The successful applicant will have a strong interest in colour, cosmetics or skin science or applied chemistry and will be enthusiastic about collaborating with our industrial partners.

Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for this research degree course are advised to contact Professor Westland prior to making an application.

English language requirements

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study in the School of Design is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid.

Contact details

For further information related to the application process please email the Faculty PGR Admissions Team at [Email Address Removed]

For further information related to the project please contact Professor Westland [Email Address Removed] 

Biological Sciences (4) Materials Science (24) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

LITAC (Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour) hosted by the School of Design, is offering a number of highly competitive PhD scholarships consisting of the award of tuition fees and an annual maintenance stipend that matches UKRI rates (18,622 GBP in 2023/24) along with a significant element of training and development expenses also incorporated within the Scholarship package. The scholarships are available to start from April 2024 but must be taken up by 1st October 2024 at the latest. All candidates must be UK applicants and will be assessed and selection is based on academic merit.

Where will I study?