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Microbial Biofilms in Urban Water Systems: development of control strategies for the water industry

Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Sheffield United Kingdom Biomedical Engineering Civil Engineering Environmental Engineering

About the Project

Biofilms are associated with various problems in drinking water systems such as changes in water quality, adsorption of materials, hosting pathogens and deterioration of pipes. The process of multispecies biofilm formation and establishment on drinking water systems - is poorly understood. This project offers the opportunity of studying and understanding microbial processes in drinking water systems related to the deterioration of water quality and with clear implications for public health. We believe that a holistic approach, studying the biofilm structure and molecular adhesion processes, could yield valuable knowledge to develop new materials with antimicrobial characteristics, understand environmental conditions to prevent the presence of adverse pathogenic species in biofilms, while promoting the adhesion of “friendly” beneficial natural microorganisms able to provide good quality drinking water for the global water industry.

 The PhD will gain a set of interdisciplinary skills combining different disciplines, water engineering, materials sciences and molecular microbial ecology. This will provide the PhD candidate with a set of skills that will aid a successful future academic- or industry orientated career. 

The ultimate aim of the proposed approach is to inform drinking water engineering process and management strategies related to biofilm formation issues in drinking water infrastructure. This multidisciplinary approach will serve as a bridge between fields of knowledge and disciplines that have not been traditionally merged before. As specified in the section above, our aim is to implement - a novel approach combining a range of techniques and scientific knowledge in the field of biofilm and water quality studies with the ultimate aim of protecting water quality and public health.

 Eligibility Criteria

Students must have a relevant connection with the UK (usually established by residence).

Selection Criteria

The primary essential section criteria are therefore the ability and willingness to learn new skills and techniques, alongside a strong first degree in a relevant subject area (e.g. environmental sciences, environmental engineering, biological sciences etc.). Further desirable criteria include experience of completing relevant laboratory tests/analysis, computational programming ability, experience of microbiological analysis, understanding of hydraulic processes and experience in model development/testing.

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