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Microbial bioprocessing and functional magnetic nanomaterials

Project Description

Applications are invited for a three-year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Aston Institute of Materials Research (AIMR) and the Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) groups. The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on the production of functional and biologically synthesised materials for healthcare and biotechnological applications.

Financial Support
This is a funded 3-year PhD studentship that include a fee bursary to cover the standard Home/EU tuition fees rate. Students will also receive a monthly maintenance allowance. Flexible starting date (April, July or October 2020) is offered.

Background of the Project
It is expected that the next generation of functional materials will be able to circumvent many of the current limitations in the healthcare and biotechnological industries and will allow the development of novel and unexplored applications. This project will aim to understand and further improve current biomanufacturing (bioprocessing) strategies for the production of biologically synthesised magnetic nanoparticles, namely magnetosomes that are naturally produced in magnetotactic bacteria and have a great potential to become the next generation of functional materials. The end goal will be to achieve higher magnetosome yields and develop scalable production process at reduced costs.

Person Specification
The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent qualification in bio/chemical engineering, biotechnology or any other relevant subject area. Skill requirements in one or more of the following disciplines is preferred: knowledge/experience of fermentation technology, microbiology, bioanalytical techniques and nanotechnologies.
We would particularly like to encourage applications from people seeking to progress their academic careers. Aston University is committed to the principles of the Athena SWAN Charter, recognised recently by a prestigious Silver Award to EAS, and we pride ourselves on our vibrant, friendly and supportive working environment and family atmosphere.

o BSc or MSc qualification in Biochemical Engineeering, Biotechnology, Environmental Sciences or equivalent
o Experience in experimental work, intermediate use of Microsoft Office and use of statistical analysis tools
o Knowledge of aseptic techniques, microbiology and bioanalytical techniques
o Knowledge in bioreactors, fermentation technology or genetic engineering is an asset
o English Language (Overall min score 6.5 IELTS). Minimum requirement can be found here

Application process
If you are interested in a PhD project at Aston University, please read the guidance notes ( and complete the application form:

From the drop-down options, select School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; October; Full Time; Postgraduate Research; Research Chemical Engineering (Full Time April 2020- An option for July/ October 2020 is also possible).

The application should clearly indicate the title of the offered research topic as well as the name of the main supervisor (Dr Alfred Fernandez-Castane). Applications should provide a research proposal describing your intended research methods and plan, supported by appropriate literature review on the selected topic. The applicants should also demonstrate how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project.
Early application is recommended, as the vacant will be open until filled with the suitable candidate. The position is available to start in April, July or October 2020 (subject to negotiation).
Candidates are encouraged to informally contact Dr Alfred Fernandez-Castane by email
prior to submitting an application at .

Funding Notes

This is a funded 3-year PhD studentship that include a fee bursary to cover the standard Home/EU tuition fees rate. Students will also receive a monthly maintenance allowance. Flexible starting date (April, July or October 2020) is offered. Applicants from outside the EU are not eligible for this studentship.


A. Fernández-Castané, H. Li, O.R.T. Thomas, T.W. Overton. Development of a simple intensified fermentation strategy for growth of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1: physiological responses to changing environmental conditions New Biotechnol (2018) 46: 22-13

A. Fernández-Castané, H. Li, O.R.T. Thomas, T.W. Overton. Flow cytometry as a rapid analytical tool to determine physiological responses to changing O2 and iron concentration by Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense strain MSR-1. Sci Rep (2017) 7: 13117

How good is research at Aston University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.63

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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