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SPORES-ON-A-CHIP:Deciphering the responsiveness of environmental spore communities using microfluidic chemostats

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The Microbiome, Microscopy and Microfluidics Lab at the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London – the UK’s leading Bioengineering department – has a fully funded PhD studentship to develop Spores-on-a-Chip microfluidic technology to gain a deeper insight into bacterial spore germination.

This project aims to pursue the next frontier in soil microbiome research by combining microfluidics, microscopy and next generation sequencing to untangle microbial interaction and communication in the rhizosphere. The overall objective is to engineer microenvironments – using Spores-on-a-Chip microfluidic technology – to recapitulate organismal interaction and communication and investigate microbial activation by environmental cues.

Currently, very little is known about the molecular and cellular biology underpinning bacterial spore germination, especially in non-model organisms, and there exists no way in which to systematically investigate the complex environmental cues (and therefore underlying mechanisms) that promote (or hinder) microbial activation of spores in real soil communities. This highly novel and interdisciplinary research project aims to enhance our understanding of these important processes and is expected to have a significant impact on the agricultural industry, as well as the health and the food industries.

Successful completion of the PhD will equip candidates with the skills required for in-demand careers within academia or industry including: cell culture techniques, soil-on-a-chip technology development, cleanroom microfabrication, microscopy, computer-assisted design, statistical analysis, problem solving, experimental design, scientific writing/presentation skills and project management.

The project will be supervised by Dr Claire Stanley and will involve close collaboration with the lab of Prof. Pilar Junier (University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland). To find out more about the lab and our research interests please visit us at

Application Process

To apply, please submit a one-page personal statement detailing your academic background and research interests, a CV and contact information of two professional/academic references to Dr Claire Stanley via email (). Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Flexible start dates in 2020 are possible.


The ideal candidate should have an excellent academic track record and have obtained an undergraduate degree at 2:1 level or higher and, normally, a master’s degree with merit or higher (or non-UK equivalents) in engineering, physical sciences, biological sciences, natural sciences or another relevant field. Laboratory experience is essential and proficiency in microfluidics, microbiology or live cell microscopy are desired but not required. Eligible candidates should be self-motivated, proactive, have excellent oral/written communication abilities and be able to work well within a team.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London will cover 3 years of tuition fees and provide a 3-year, tax-free stipend (home and EU candidates) at the standard Research Council rate.

More information about Bioengineering at Imperial College London and our PhD programme: View Website and about Imperial’s commitment to the success of EU students enrolled in 2019/2020: View Website

How good is research at Imperial College London in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.50

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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