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PhD Studentships

Proposed PhD studentships

Please note that applicants are NOT required to express a preference at the point of application to join the CDT. For further information about PhD supervisors please visit supervisor websites.


Project Topics September 2022 – Cohort 9

If there is further information connected to individual studentships click on the studentship title – highlighted in blue.

The following is a list of the projects that we anticipate being available. In the unlikely event that a project becomes unavailable it may be necessary to withdraw it from the list. This list will be added to over the course of the year once we know the research interests of the students. We aim to offer in the region of 30 projects for the 20 PhD studentships in Cohort 9.

Dr James W Walton, Dr Clare Mahon, Dr Karrera Djoko (all Durham University)
Synthesis and Analysis of Copper-Loaded Micelles to Address Antimicrobial Resistance
Dr Devesh Mistry, Dr Oliver Harlen and Prof Daniel Read (all University of Leeds)
3D printed liquid crystal elastomers: symmetry, order, structure and mechanics
Prof Paul Beales and Prof. Stephen Evans (University of Leeds)
Mechanoresponsive Artificial Cells
Prof Rodrigo Aguilar (University of Edinburgh) and Prof Halim Kusumaatmaja (Durham University)
Wetting on Patterned Liquid Surfaces
Prof Francisco Goycoolea and Dr Celia Ferreira (both University of Leeds) with Quorn Foods
Investigation of Chitin and Chitosan forms as value-added materials derived from mycelia of Fusarium venenatum
Prof Lorna Dougan, Dr Sarah Harris and Prof Daniel Read (all University of Leeds)
Designer meso-materials: developing new tools to understand and create responsive and functional protein-based biomaterials
Prof David Harbottle and Prof Timothy Hunter (both University of Leeds) with Venator
Advanced Functional Coatings for the Active Control of Particle Adhesion and Wettability
Dr Claire Hobday and Dr Antonia Mey (both University of Edinburgh)
Probing tuneable phase behaviour of soft solids for solid-state refrigeration through molecular simulations 
Dr Karen Johnston and Dr Clare Mahon (both Durham University)
Development of Recyclable Hybrid Solid Electrolytes
Prof Cliff Jones (University of Leeds)
Applications of Polar and Ferroelectric Nematics as Electrophoretic Fluids
Prof Halim Kusumaatmaja and Dr Mark Miller (both Durham University)
Governing Principles of Condensate-Membrane Interactions in Biological Cells
Dr Gavin Melaugh and Prof Cait MacPhee (both University of Edinburgh)
Developing tractable model systems for filamentous bacteria in wastewater treatment
Dr Antonia Mey (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Matteo Degiacomi (Durham University) with Redesign Science
LOOPER: Machine learning for druggable protein conformations
Dr Clare S. Mahon and Dr William D. G. Brittain (Durham University)
Utilising chiral mono- and bis-oxazolines for the synthesis of a new class of stereodefined peptidomimetic polymers
Prof Anwesha Sarkar, Prof Caroline Orfila and Dr Arwen Tyler (all University of Leeds) with Oatly
Bioengineering Sustainable Microgel Particles and Multiscale Characterization of Material Properties
Dr Margarita Staykova and Dr Paul McGonigal (both Durham University)
Artificial tissue-like systems capable of self-organisation
Prof Jonathan Steed (Durham University) with Ashland
The Role of Inorganic Photosensitisers in Radiation Sensitive Films for Cancer Treatment
Dr John Royer and Dr Aidan Brown (both University of Edinburgh)
A Robot that swims through Granular Materials
Prof Kislon Voïtchovsky (Durham University)
Design and testing of smart antifouling materials: beyond biocidal approaches
Dr Tiffany Wood (University of Edinburgh) with Centre for Process Innovation
Disclination creation and stabilization to create a new generation of functional materials
Davide Michieletto, University of Edinburgh with Reckitt Benckiser
Tough meets Stretchy – Double Polyrotaxane Networks hydrogels
Dr Jennifer Garden (University of Edinburgh)
Controlled Synthesis of Sustainable Block Copolymer Compatibilizers
Prof. Anwesha Sarkar, Prof. Daniel Read, Dr. Oliver Harlen of University of Leeds and Prof. Wilson Poon of University of Edinburgh with Reckitt Benckiser
Synthesizing and characterizing novel designer microgels to address mucoadhesion
Prof Jon Steed and Dr Sharon Cooper (both Durham University)
Universal platform for crystal polymorph discovery

Project Topics 2021 – Cohort 8

Prof Rosalind Allen and Dr Simon Titmuss (both University of Edinburgh)
Applying the principles of soft matter formulation to aid the search for new antibiotics
Dr Anders Aufderhorst-Roberts, Prof Kislon Voïtchovsky and Prof Ehmke Pohl (All Durham University)
Unpicking the Cellular Safety Belt: Structure-Mechanics Relations in Cytoskeletal Intermediate Filament Bundle Networks
Dr Anders Aufderhorst-Roberts and Dr Natasha Shirshova (both Durham University) with Reckitt Benckiser
Leveraging the Mechanics of Double Network Hydrogels as Soft, Strong Materials
Prof Steven Cobb and Dr Clare Mahon (both Durham University)
Synthesis of tunable and selectively degradable bis-phenol polymers
Dr Matteo Degiacomi and Dr Chris Willcocks (both Durham University)
Machine learning for biomolecular assembly
Prof Lorna Dougan and Dr David Head (both University of Leeds)
Hierarchical biomechanics: towards a cross lengthscale understanding of folded protein-based hydrogels
Prof Francisco Goycoolea and Dr Celia Ferreira (both University of Leeds) with Reckitt Benckiser
Deconstructing the Complexity of the Mucus-Bacteria-Soft Matter Gut Microbiome Triangle
Prof David Harbottle, Dr Paul Thornton and Dr Nils Wedler (all University of Leeds) with Reckitt Benckiser
The Mode of Action of Polymeric Deposition Aids
Prof Halim Kusumaatmaja and Prof Kislon Voitchovsky (both Durham University) with P&G
Ternary Dewetting: The Flow Physics of Cleaning using Limited Resources
Dr Clare Mahon (Durham University) with P&G
Biodegradable polymers for environmentally-friendly fabric care formulations
Dr Paul McGonigal (Durham University)
Synthetic Polymer Networks with Dynamic Topologies
Prof Glen McHale, Dr Gary Wells and Dr Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar (all University of Edinburgh)
Wetting of Metamaterial Surfaces
Dr Davide Michieletto and Prof Paul Clegg (both University of Edinburgh)
Protein-functionalised DNA hydrogels
Prof Brent Murray, Prof Anwesha Sarkar, Prof Michael Rappolt and Dr Paraskevi Paximada (all University of Leeds) with Nestlé, York
Protein particle fillers in non-acqueous media: procolate
Dr Chris Prior and Dr Matteo Degiacomi (both Durham University) with Diamond Light Source
Developing statistical, topological and geometrical techniques for ab-initio protein structure prediction
Prof Daniel Read, Dr Johan Mattson and Dr Costas Velis (all University of Leeds) with Dow
The molecular science of recycling plastics
Dr Mike E Ries, Dr Peter J Hine, Prof Chris Carr and Dr Muriel Rigout (all University of Leeds)
Materials from Nature
Dr John Royer and Dr Chris Ness (both University of Edinburgh)
Dense polydisperse suspensions – a matter of complexity
Prof Anwesha Sarkar, Dr Simon Connell and Prof Brent Murray (all University of Leeds) with PepsiCo
Nanomechanical properties of biocompatible particles: from bulk to interface
Prof Margarita Staykova, Dr Gary Sharples, Prof Tiago Moreira (all Durham University) and Prof Wilson Poon (University of Edinburgh)
Synthetic symbiosomes for living materials
Prof Jon Steed, Prof Mark Wilson and Dr Clare Mahon (all Durham University) with AstraZeneca
Understanding PROTACS (PROteolysis TArgeting Chimeras) as a new modality
Dr Arwen Tyler and Dr Paul Beales (both University of Leeds), with Dartmouth College, USA and Peroxyium Ltd
Hybrid Lipid – Inorganic nanoparticles for drug delivery to the brain
Dr James Walton and Dr Clare Mahon (both Durham University)
pH-Responsive Micelles for Controlled Enzyme Inhibitor Release
Dr Nick Warren, Prof Nik Kapur and Dr Richard Bourne (all University of Leeds) and Prof Lian Hutchings (Durham University) with Synthomer
Accelerated discovery and development of functionalised block copolymers using continuous-flow anionic polymerisation platforms

Project Topics 2020 – Cohort 7

Dr Mike E Ries, Dr Peter J Hine, Prof Chris Carr and Dr Muriel Rigout (all University of Leeds)
Materials from Nature
Professor Daniel Read, Dr Johan Mattsson and Dr Costas Velis (all University of Leeds) – with Dow
Material evolution during repeated recycling of plastics
Professor Simon Connell and Dr Peter Adams (both University of Leeds)
Nanotechnology of fluorescent proteins in a lipid/polymer matrix: soft thin film materials for artificial photosynthesis
Dr Clare Mahon and Dr Richard Thompson (both Durham University)
Synthesis of well-defined biodegradable polymers and study of their materials properties
Professor Ed Llewellin and Dr Fabian Wadsworth (both Durham University) – with Rolls Royce
Volcanic ash in jet engines – bouncing, sticking, and spreading of molten glass droplets
Dr Jennifer Garden (University of Edinburgh) with Croda
Environmentally degradable soft/hard block copolymers
Dr Chris Prior (Durham University)
Developing statistical, topological and geometrical techniques for ab-initio protein structure prediction
Dr Davide Michieletto and Professor Alexander Morozov (both University of Edinburgh) – with Tilibit Nanosystems
Microrheology of DNA Origami
Professors Wilson Poon and Alex Lips (both University of Edinburgh) – with the Leverhulme Centre for Forensic Science, Dundee University
Dirty Linen: the forensic soft matter science of body fluids on fabric
Dr Beth Bromley, Prof. Kevin Weatherill, Dr. Matteo Degiacomi (all Durham University)
Listening to proteins with EARS: Enhanced Acoustic Raman spectroscopy of information flow across the interface between proteins and their environment
Dr Mark Miller (Durham University)
Dynamic percolation in composite materials
Dr Paul Thornton (University of Leeds) – with AstraZeneca
Highly-Functional Poly(amino acids) for Controlled Therapeutic Delivery
Dr Natasha Shirshova and Prof. Lian Hutchings (both Durham University)
Block copolymers to promote a bicontinuous morphology in epoxy/ionic liquid formulations during reaction-induced phase separation
Dr David Harbottle, Prof. Kevin Roberts, Dr. Robert Hammond (all Leeds University) – with Infineum
Dispersion Modelling of Polyaromatic Compounds
Professor Stefano Brandani (University of Edinburgh) – with Air Liquide
Characterisation of Nanoporous Materials Using Adsorption at Cryogenic Conditions
Dr John Sanderson (Durham University) – with GSK
Drug Stability in Soft Matter Systems
Dr John Royer and Dr Aidan Brown (both University of Edinburgh) – with Crover
A Robot that Swims Through Granular Materials
Dr Kislon Voitchovsky (Durham University) and Prof. Teuta Pilozota (University of Edinburgh) – hosted in Durham
Bio-inspired active nano-membranes
Dr Paul McGonigal (Durham University)
Polymeric Fluorescence Standards from Medium-Independent Emitters
Dr Matt Kitching (Durham University)
March of the Materials: Molecular walkers for dynamic responsive polymers
Prof Colin Bain (Durham University) and Prof Andrew Bayly (University of Leeds) – hosted in Durham
Inkjet manufacturing: from Droplets to Films