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Sperm have got the bends - elastohydrodynamic modelling of beat generation


   School of Mathematics

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples, is emotionally devastating, and requires expensive and invasive treatments. Importantly, we place a significant and unequal burden on women, who often require risk-bearing procedures to address what is caused by, in 50% of cases, a male factor. Despite major progress in IVF and other assisted reproduction technologies, the analysis and treatment of male factor infertility lags behind. By taking an interdisciplinary approach - integrating computational mathematics and experimental imaging with clinical data - we are working to improving understanding of these widespread problems and ultimately develop new diagnostics and treatments for male infertility.

This project involves the development and evaluation of computational models to uncover how sperm beat their tails in a way that propels them efficiently through their journey to the egg. By modelling the interactions between the internal components of the tail, the elastic surrounding structures, and external fluid environment, we will investigate how the 3D motion of the sperm beat is generated and governs behaviour. This knowledge will improve our understanding of how sperm swim - the strongest selection mechanism for quality sperm in natural reproduction.

While having a base in the School of Mathematics, for this PhD project you will be working within an interdisciplinary Centre that bridges the gaps between computational, experimental and healthcare research. This will give you a unique opportunity to understand the clinical need through interactions with the Fertility Centre at Birmingham Women’s Hospital. This work will build naturally on the research expertise of the supervisor, who has significant experience creating computational and image analysis tools to develop the next generation of diagnostics and treatments for male-factor infertility.

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Funding Notes

A funded scholarship is available for an excellent UK candidate with a stipend at standard rates for 3-3.5 years.
For EU candidates funding may be available through a college or EPSRC scholarship in competition with all other PhD applications; The scholarship will cover tuition fees, training support, and a stipend at standard rates for 3-3.5 years.
For non-UK/non-EU candidates:
Strong self-funded applicants will be considered; Exceptionally strong candidates in this category may be awarded a tuition fee waiver (for up to 3 years) in competition with all other PhD applications.

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