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Novel biosensors for the detection of the emerging pathogens in water

   Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment

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  Dr P Fernandez-Ibanez, Dr Nikhil Bhalla, Prof J Byrne, Dr Seila Couso  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Emerging pathogens in water and air are becoming the new Grand Challenges of our society, they include neglected pathogens like parasites, bacteria with antimicrobial resistance, and new viruses like Covid. These pathogens cause extremely high economic and human losses annually worldwide and have been recognised by the World Health Organisation as a high concern. The control of the water quality and water treatment methods against these pathogens is key in order to guarantee water safety and quality, and to prevent waterborne outbreaks with millions of deaths and a huge detriment on economy.

The objective of this PhD project is to develop a novel biosensor for the early and fast detection of a parasite (Cryptosporidium oocysts) in water. The current protocols approved by the USEPA and the UK Environment Agency for this are expensive, time-consuming, have limited sensitivity and require laborious work, specific equipment and highly specialised personnel. Therefore, there is a strong need to develop a rapid, reliable, and sensitive method for real-time detection of Cryptosporidium in water.

Biosensors, as compact analytical units used for the selective detection of chemical and/or biological components, have been developed for the automatic detection of bacteria in water, with high selectivity, sensitivity and versatility.

The results of this project will have a positive impact on the challenge of water contamination by Cryptosporidium. The development of a Supervisors should note that all projects must have at least two Ulster University supervisors and that priority in the main competition will be given to projects which include one new supervisor/ECR on the team. In addition, supervisors may only submit one Project Proposal per supervisory team for the main scholarship competition. biosensor for early detection of Cryptosporidium in water will open a window of opportunities to the wastewater and drinking water business, with possibilities to develop control strategies to prevent parasitic outbreaks. This research will contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6, clean water and sanitation for all. This project will directly contribute to guarantee the quality of water, which is essential not only to health, but also to poverty reduction, food security, peace and human rights. 

This project is suitable for graduates on Science and Engineering.

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