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Protein adsorption in gel structures: simulation, experiment and application


   Department of Chemical and Process Engineering


About the Project

The aims of the project are to understand protein adsorption in RF gel structures and to tailor gel properties for applications; these include purification steps in protein manufacture, as well as water clean-up.

Protein adsorption to materials is an essential step in biotechnology processing, being used to extract proteins from the synthesis broth. It can also be used to clean water by extracting unwanted biological species. At the University of Strathclyde, we have been studying the fundamentals of protein adsorption to model materials, in order to understand how the properties of the material (such as surface charges and hydrophobicity) affect the process. We have also great experience synthesising resorcinol-formaldehyde (RF) gels, and can control porosity and pore sizes through choice of synthesis conditions. We also have experience of applying these materials to a variety of processes including adsorption of unwanted species from water. This project will build on these capabilities to broaden understanding and ultimately create new technology for protein capture.

The project will include molecular simulations using the ARCHIE-WeSt (www.archie-west.ac.uk) High Performance Computer (HPC); using simulation insights to tailor the RF gel properties through synthesis parameters; experimental exploration of designed gels, with feedback to the modelling work to optimise the design; and design and implementation of an adsorption process for use in protein synthesis and purification or water cleanup.

We seek applicants with good experience of experimental work, coupled to familiarity with computational methodology and a willingness to learn new techniques. The PhD program will provide specific training in the use of HPC and molecular modelling codes, as well as experimental training in adsorption studies. The successful applicant will join a vibrant group of researchers with expertise in material design, synthesis, characterisation and applications to real-world problems.

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Information about the host department can be found by visiting:

www.strath.ac.uk/engineering/chemicalprocessengineering/

www.strath.ac.uk/courses/research/chemicalprocessengineering/


Funding Notes

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates may be considered for a University scholarship.
Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.

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