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Waste Treatment and Microbial Conversion to Energy Rich Compounds (Ref: ET20/HLS/APP/BLACK1)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 08, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Increasing concerns over usage of fossil resources and its effect on climate change, there has been much interest in producing chemicals and materials from renewable feedstocks mainly non-food-based biomass or directly from CO2. UK’s clean growth strategy addressed the need for change in certain sectors especially construction industries and heating in buildings. Decarbonising construction industries and improving the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings is of primary importance as they contribute to about 30% of the emissions. Current landfill treatment of household waste also contributes significantly to the emissions. The Hub for Biotechnology in the Built Environment (HBBE, offers the opportunity to create living homes which can treat their own waste, generate energy and produce valuable products. The Hub is a strategic expansion that will soon including 13 new academic staff, including Biologists, Architectural Designers and Engineers, supported by 5 PDRAs, 14 PhD students and 3 support staff. This will include 3 new research facilities that will integrate our research: the Micro Bio-Design Lab (Northumbria), the Macro Bio-Design Lab (Newcastle) and a unique Experimental ‘Living’ House, ‘The OME’. In this PhD project we will implement novel multidisciplinary biotechnological tools interfacing between metabolic engineering and fermentation technology under the theme ‘building metabolism’ to create ‘living homes’. Under this theme, microorganisms will be engineered for efficient production of value-added energy rich compounds from second and third generation feedstocks. We will integrate the information from the metabolism of microorganisms, design or optimise the metabolism, build and optimise an integrated process using the microorganism as a biocatalyst from the waste feedstocks driving towards a net carbon neutral and sustainable homes.

The scope of the project is

• Pre-treatment and characterising waste feedstocks
• Engineering microorganism(s) for optimal production of a product or energy from the pre-treated feedstocks,
• Characterisation using systems biology tools, e.g. omic analysis (mainly transcriptome, proteome and fluxome analysis) and building an optimal bioprocess (fermentation process) for the desired product.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed and the reasons you consider yourself suited to the project. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. ET20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 8th May 2020
Start Date: 1st Aug 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Rajesh Bommareddy ()

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and EU students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2020/21, this is £15,285 pa) and full Home/ EU Fees.


• Bommareddy, RR, Zhen, C, Sugima, R, A.-P.Zeng. A de novo NADPH generation pathway for improving lysine production of Corynebacterium glutamicum by rational design of the coenzyme specificity of glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase. Metabolic Engineering. 2014. 25: 30-37.

• Bommareddy RR, Sabra W, Maheswari G, Zeng AP. Metabolic network analysis and experimental study of lipid production in Rhodosporidium toruloides grown on single and mixed substrates. Microbial Cell Factories.2015.14:36.

• Sabra, W, Bommareddy RR, Maheswari G, Zeng AP. Substrates and oxygen dependent citric acid production by Yarrowia lipolytica: insights through transcriptome and fluxome analyses. Microbial Cell Factories.2017. 16(1): 78.

• Ding, Y., Bertram, J.R., Eckert, C., Bommareddy, R.R., Patel, R., Conradie, A., Bryan, S., and Nagpal, P. Nanorg microbial factories: Light-driven renewable biochemical synthesis using quantum dot-bacteria nano-biohybrids. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2019. 141. 10272-10282.

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