PhD Scholarship

We have a PhD studentship as part the a PhD cluster on ‘Sensing and Safeguarding the Water Environment’ with overall six students. The scholarship covers full fees and stipend, no matter if the student has UK, EU or another nationality.

Unravelling micro-plankton populations through lab-on-a-chip-based sorting and analysis platforms


students by water  Lab on a Chip UOH_7280 copy 2  Picture1

Closing date: Wednesday 15th May 2019
Studentship will start on 16th September 2019
apply through the University of Hull website

Summary of PhD Cluster
Sensing and Safeguarding the Water Environment

Water pollution from industry, agriculture and urban settings is a major global pressure. Effective monitoring of water quality is vital to safeguard our water supply and managing the health of our aquatic ecosystems. However, traditional monitoring has relied on relatively expensive physical sensors operating at low spatial resolution that require skilled personnel for servicing. Such systems are often not affordable; in particular in those jurisdictions with the greatest challenges concerning water quality. A fuller understanding of water quality and pollution dynamics, including sources and behaviour of pollutants are often lacking, hindering cost-effective and targeted environmental management.

There is an urgent need for gathering data on key environmental parameters at low cost, with high frequenciesand spatial densities to better understand trends, underpin predictive modelling and provide the foundation for robust environmental management. With recent breakthroughs in miniaturised fluid processing and high sensitivity sensing, complex sample processing workflows can now be greatly simplified. In this PhD cluster we bring together experts in environmental sciences for marine, coastal and river waters with experts in lab-on-a-chip, nanophysics sensing technologies and lifecycle engineering as well as big data analyticsto address research questions in this area.

The student will join an exciting research and training environment with access to our Lab-on-a-Chip Fabrication Facility, 3D printing and Nanofabrication Facilities and our HPC facility, VIPER. Through our Environmental Scientists we have many industrial contacts and have access to a wide range of sample sites including streams and rivers, aquaculture farms and estuarine/oceanic sites.

Context of PhD Project – Unravelling micro-plankton populations through lab-on-a-chip-based sorting and analysis platforms

with Alex Iles and Nicole Pamme (on-chip focussing/sorting), Ali Adawi (optical readout) and Rodney Forster (micro-plankton in water).

Phytoplankton form the base of the marine food chain; knowledge of the plankton community structure is fundamental for assessing marine biodiversity. Plankton size is important: large cells can be consumed directly by herbivorous zooplankton and small fish, whereas small-celled picoplankton (<2 µm) are less important as food source and export less carbon to the deep ocean. Current methods are complex and inaccurate, relying on a combination of observations and models and the coastal ocean is greatly under-sampled for plankton data. The PhD student will develop inertial focussing and sorting approaches to be linked with highly sensitive nano-plasmonic spectroscopy readout (from project 4) towards an accurate estimation of plankton size with an ability to rapidly sort cells for biochemical, optical and genetic analysis. A candidate with a background in Chemistry, Physical Sciences, Engineering or a related discipline would be suited for this project.

Contact: Dr Alex Iles (

Applicants for all projects should have a 1stclass undergraduate degree and Masters level qualification inphysical, engineering or environmental sciences, or a related discipline, together with relevant research experience. A 2:1 may be considered, if combined with relevant experience.

The studentships will include full fees and maintenance (£15,009 in 2019/20) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.

Interviews will be held between 3rdand 6th June 2019.


Currently, we have not have any further paid vacancies or studentship positions advertised.

Self-funded PhD students, Research Fellows and Visitors

If you have your own funding, an externally sponsored PhD studentship, want to apply for a Research Fellowship and are interested in our research topics, please do not hesitate to contact Prof. Pamme directly.