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Nature Inspired Surgical Tools (EPS2020/44)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, February 28, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The stings of insects provide a wealth of information on how to design and manufacture better cutting surgical tools. By close examination of specimen obtained from museums, lessons from the profiles of stings of insects will be applied towards the manufacture and tests of novel surgical blades.

The close examination of stings of insects provides a rich morphology of the profile of the stings with different topologies and materials present on the surface of these appendages. The PhD candidate will study specimens obtained from the Museum of Scotland, a close collaborator in this PhD and will deduce the distinctive features that ought to be retained to make better cutting tools. These features will be modelled and simulated using commercial modelling software such as Comsol or Ansoft. Profiles will be manufactured using microfabrication techniques, additive manufacturing techniques or laser-based processing methods and tested in terms of mechanical properties. They will finally be tested using animal models and benchmarked with existing tools.


All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). This scholarship is only open to UK/EU applicants who meet residency requirements set out by EPSRC.

Closing Date

All applications must be received by 28th February 2020. All successful candidates should usually expect to start in September/October 2020.

How to Apply

Apply Online -

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:
(a) in ‘Study Option’
You will need to select ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. ‘Programme’ presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Electrical Engineering PhD and select September 2020 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)
(b) in ‘Research Project Information’
You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the supervisor’s name.

This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.

Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

Funding Notes

The annual stipend will be approx. £15k per year and full fees will be paid for 3.5 years.

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