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PhD Studentship Opportunity in the Development of microbial self-powered biosensor for water quality monitoring


Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

Dr Siddharth Gadkari , , Wednesday, April 14, 2021 Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

We are looking for an enthusiastic and strongly motivated candidate to work on a multidisciplinary PhD project. The project aims to develop a self-sustainable and cost-effective biosensor for applications in water quality monitoring.  

Access to clean water is imperative for the sustainable development of communities. With growing world population and rising environmental pollution, it is essential to develop faster and accurate means of determining and monitoring the water quality. The conventional methods for water quality assessment are time consuming, cumbersome, and expensive, and therefore new methods that can provide faster real-time assessment are being developed. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) represent an innovative technology, in which microorganisms oxidise the biodegradable organic matter in wastewater to produce an electric current. The output from MFC can also be interpreted to get a measure of the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the feed water. As BOD is one of the key parameters for assessing water quality, MFC’s can work as biosensors for BOD measurement, with the added advantage of being self-sustainable. This project will focus on developing cost effective and operationally stable MFC based biosensors. 

The University is well-equipped for these studies and candidates will be trained in all relevant methods. PhD students will be mentored in the preparation of manuscripts, posters, and presentations and will be encouraged to use faculty funding to attend (international) conferences. The University of Surrey is a short walk from Guildford town centre which lies within the Surrey Hills Area and is 40 mins by train from central London.

The project supervisory group brings together experts from multiple, distinct fields of research, including chemical engineering, biochemistry, electrochemistry and microbial sciences. Working on this project, will enable the PhD student to develop an interdisciplinary and innovative mind-set, and the capacity to transfer their skills to other scientific fields. 

Supervisors: Dr Siddharth Gadkari, Dr Claudio Avignone Rossa and Professor John Varcoe

This is a 3-year project starting in July 2021.

Entry requirements

Applicants must hold a First Class or Upper Second Class (2:1) Degree in Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology or a closely related subject.

The required qualifications include hands-on experience of safely conducting laboratory experiments, strong communication skills, and excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.

Previous practical experience in microbiological techniques (e.g. cell culturing) and knowledge of electrochemistry is desirable, but not essential.

Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact Dr Siddharth Gadkari () directly for further details. English language requirements: IELTS Academic 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Chemical and Process Engineering PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab.

Please state clearly the studentship project at you would like to apply for.


Funding Notes

Full UK/EU tuition fees covered for three years for applicants who can commence their PhD in October 2020. Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2021/22) for three years. Research Training Support Grant of £1,000 p.a. Personal Computer (provided by the department). This opportunity is funded by the University of Surrey's Doctoral College.

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