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Making the invisible visible: Modelling how ventilation and people movement affect the deposition of pathogens in hospitals


Project Description

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship to investigate how ventilation and movement of people contribute to the deposition of pathogens in the hospital environment. This project is a collaboration between UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (UCL CEGE), and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH).

Many antibiotic resistant pathogens have been isolated from hospital surfaces and these pose a risk to patient outcomes and costs to the NHS, however very little is known about how room ventilation and the movement of people contribute to microbiological contamination on surfaces.

This research will involve in-situ observations combined with physical and numerical experiments to better understand the role that ventilation and the movement of people play in the transport and deposition of microbial pathogen cells in a dynamic hospital environment by combining the disciplines of microbiology and fluid dynamics. The student will use microbiological data collected from the environment to inform and validate the development of airflow models. The airflow modelling will be done both in the laboratory, with salt-bath experiments, and in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), employing high-resolution large-eddy simulations. This will allow us to trace the transport of invisible pathogens and their deposition on surfaces in the clinical environment.

The project will be supervised by an interdisciplinary team of three academics from UCL CEGE: Dr Lena Ciric (microbiology), Dr Liora Malki-Epshtein (fluid dynamics), Prof Thorsten Stoesser (numerical modelling); and supported by Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green (infection control and prevention) from GOSH.

The applicants should possess a good honours degree (1st Class or 2:1 minimum) in any of the following disciplines: Mechanical, Civil/Environmental, Chemical Engineering, Mathematics, Physics or a related discipline, and have a good grasp of fundamentals of fluid mechanics. The applicant should demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good experimental practice, ability to think analytically and creatively, together with good presentation and writing skills in English. As the observations will take place in GOSH, applicants should be comfortable with the idea of working in a clinical setting, and agree to pass an extended CRB check.

Funding Notes

This 4 years full-time or 6 years part-time studentship is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership. Due to funding restrictions only UK/EU residents who have been living in the UK for 3 years prior to the studentship commencing are eligible for this studentship. EU residents who have not been living in the UK are eligible for fee only awards.

The funding covers all UCL UK/EU tuition fees, minimum RCUK stipend per annum (£17,009 tax free in 19/20) and includes some funding for research and travel.

References

Applicants should send a covering letter and CV to Dr Lena Ciric ([email protected]). The successful applicant will then have to apply online to UCL by submitting the PhD application form, available from https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/research-degrees/civil-environmental-geomatic-engineering-mphil-phd and clicking on the Apply now button. Please name Dr Lena Ciric as the proposed supervisor.

Interviews to take place 26th September 2019. Studentship to start October 2019 or as soon as possible

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