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Microbial Micro-Engineers

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Microorganisms occupy every crevice within global ecosystems and impact all aspects of life. However, too little is understood about their movement within physical crannies, and how they can restructure these microspaces for their own benefit. Unlike in the majority of simulations, most biological surfaces are deformable. Through computational simulations, this project will discover whether microbial swimming can hydrodynamically deform pliable surroundings.

The project will consider swimming microbes interacting with soft biopolymer brushes. Swimming above a polymer brush will act as an ideal model of more complex soft interfaces, such as mucus-covered tissues, collegen networks and biofilms. This project will further consider restructuring of porous media, in which fluid and swimming bacteria move through a maze of gaps between many dragable obstacles. By allowing these obstacles to move when subjected to the perturbative flows, we will determine when the bacteria can disorder or reorder their surroundings. We will ask whether this restructuring improves bacteria’s ability to explore the system or whether porous systems can be designed to halt potential infections by cutting off the most efficient best paths.

Your role will be to extend mathematical models and algorithms to understand the role of motility-induced restructuring of pliable materials. You will be working in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment, and will become familiar with cutting-edge modelling techniques. Applicants should have experience with or show enthusiasm to learn numerical modelling. We are particularly eager to see diverse applicants who demonstrate creativity, and an eagerness to computationally model exciting and dynamic biological systems.

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Applied Mathematics or a related subject.
A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: Statistical physics, biosciences, biotechnology, hydrodynamics, non-equilibrium systems, molecular dynamics simulations, programming with C and python.

Funding Notes

UK/EU Fee band * Research Band 1 Classroom Based (£TBC)
International Fee band * Research Band 1 Classroom Based (£16,900)

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