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PhD Studentship in Molecular Microbial Biotechnology

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Number of awards

Start date and duration:
September 2019 for 4 years.

Scientists around the world are working on solutions to help reduce carbon emissions ‐ and biologists can make a contribution here too. This PhD project will study how the bacterium Escherichia coli can be used to capture gaseous carbon dioxide and convert it initially into formic acid.

Our development of Escherichia coli as a potential carbon capture technology was a breakthrough in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy research (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.050). This PhD project will design experiments to explore the limits of this system; engineer strains optimised for this activity throughout growth; and investigate further the structure and function of the enzymes responsible. This studentship contains a mixture of molecular approaches and would be ideal for students interested in bioreactors, molecular microbiology, genetic engineering, enzyme biochemistry and biotechnology.

The studentship is in partnership with Drochaid Research Services and there will be an opportunity to spend up to three months working on site with DRS in St Andrews.

BBSRC via the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) CTP.

Name of supervisor(s):
Primary Supervisor: Professor Frank Sargent, Natural and Environmental Sciences (
Second Supervisor: Dr Jon Marles-Wright, Natural and Environmental Sciences
Primary Industrial Partner: Drochaid Research Services, St Andrews
Secondary Industrial Partner: Ingenza Ltd, Edinburgh

Eligibility Criteria:
You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in biological sciences or a related subject.

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the BBSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

How to apply:
You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’ (

You will need to:

insert the programme code 8020F in the programme of study section
select PhD Biology (full time) - Biological Sciences as the programme of study
insert the studentship code NES017 in the studentship/partnership reference field
attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code NES017 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.
You should also send your covering letter and CV to Professor Frank Sargent by email to .

For further details, please contact:

Professor Frank Sargent (
School of Natural and Environmental Sciences (
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 5138

Funding Notes

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,009 (full award). A partial award covers fees at the UK/EU rate only. Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

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