FSE Dean's Research Studentship 2022-23
Applications are invited for doctoral study in suitable areas within Health Science, Engineering, Pharmacy, Computer Science, Architecture and Built Environment and Life Science.
The 18 FSE Dean Research Studentships project titles are as follows:
Click to read more
Tailor-Made Biological Polymer Scaffolds for the Development of In Vitro 3D Tissue Models
Approaches for culturing mammalian cells in vitro are increasingly needed to study cell and tissue physiology and to grow replacement tissue for regenerative medicine. For this purpose, a scaffold that incorporates sophisticated biochemical and mechanical cues, mimics the extracellular matrix found in vivo and supports the growth of tissue in three-dimensional (3D) is required. An ideal scaffold should fulfil several criteria including biocompatibility, biodegradability into non-toxic components that are easily excreted by the host, possess an interconnected network of pores of a diameter that permits cell migration and surface chemistry that encourages cell attachment and permits the immobilisation of biomolecules such as growth factors.
Biomaterials (hydrogels and porous polymer materials) that can serve as scaffolds for 3D cell culture and tissue engineering are developed in Dr Eissa’s group using modern synthetic chemistry and bioconjugation methodologies. Recent work has shown that these scaffolds are capable of supporting 3D growth of many cell types including human pluripotent stem cells, human haematopoietic stem cells and human endometrial cells.
This interdisciplinary project will involve creating a range of complex architecture materials that can serve as scaffolds for the culture of cells and, ultimately, tissue in 3D. This will entail the utilisation of the state-of-the-art methodologies including emulsion templating and additive manufacturing 3D printing technologies. One produced, accurately optimised and validated, scaffolds will be used to establish optimal in vitro tissue model to solve a biomedical problem in mind. The outcome will be a robust platform for investigating cell physiology and fabricating tissue in vitro. This will have significant implications which will increase the efficiency of the discovery process and translation of biomedical materials and deliver a ‘step change’ in understanding the cause of diseases and accelerating therapies development.
Experience in subject areas such as Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Bioengineering or a related field is required. Much of the work will involve working at the interface between materials chemistry and biology. Prior experience is desirable but appropriate training in a range of chemical and biomedical techniques will be provided to the successful candidate. Laboratory work will be undertaken within the University of Wolverhampton’s Life Sciences Centre, the Rosalind Franklin building, which houses a broad range of state-of-the-art research facilities suitable for undertaking this multidisciplinary project. Nevertheless, the work will involve collaborations with external research groups in the UK and beyond (Europe and Australia), providing great experience for the successful candidate.
Applications are welcomed from students with all backgrounds that are suitably qualified and highly motivated.
Further details (or informal enquiries) can be obtained via direct email to Director of Studies, Dr Ahmed Eissa A.M.Eissa@wlv.ac.uk
Identifying a novel diagnostic test to predict clinical response to treatment with biological drugs in Crohn’s disease patients.
Crohn’s disease (CD) is a chronic relapsing incurable inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affecting approximately 165/100000 people in the UK. The cytokine milieu in the intestine is an important factor in the maintenance of the immune balance, and in gut inflammation, this balance is dysregulated resulting in mucosal inflammation. The gastrointestinal tract interacts with a huge variety of diverse microbiota. Changes in the diversity of this microbiota (dysbiosis) is associated with changes in the cytokine profile and considered to be an important factor in the aetiology of CD.
Monoclonal antibody therapy has revolutionised the treatment of IBD. However, many patients do not respond to the drugs and some develop serious side effects and/or recurrence after the treatment is discontinued. Furthermore, information on the effect of biological drugs on the bacterial composition in relation to the systemic cytokine profile in CD is still unknown.
Dysbiosis in CD correlates with systemic changes in the production of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine.
To characterise dysbiosis in CD and examine concurrent changes in gut bacteria and serum cytokine profiles in response to treatment with biological drugs including vedolizumab and infliximab.
Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, immune cell phenotype and activation will be assessed by flow cytometry on serum and blood immune cell samples obtained from CD patients. Bacterial DNA will be extracted from stool samples and dysbiosis of gut microbiota will be assessed before and after biological treatment using Luminex technology and GA-map Dysbiosis Test.
Advanced statistics and bioinformatics will be used to determine the relation between the cytokine levels and dysbiosis.
The data obtained will potentially help predict patient response to biological drugs and will bring closer the notion of personalised medicine.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Hafid Omar firstname.lastname@example.org
From trash to treasure – the use of waste biomass to produce biopolymers coatings for seed protection
Currently, millions of people worldwide, suffer from both food insecurity and hunger. To address these issues, new strategies for more sustainable approach to agricultural practices are required. In this context, effective protection of seeds from seed-borne/soil-borne fungal pathogens and abiotic stresses (drought, temperature, salinity) is essential for sustainable crop production and improved food security. Efficient seed coatings can considerably improve the germination and establishment of seedlings. It can also improve overall plant growth, leading to a better quality of harvested product. Many conventional protective coatings contain agrochemicals and petroleum-derived plastic-like (microplastics) binders which pollute the environment. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop safe, natural, microplastic-free formulations, which will help to reduce the impact of microplastic on agricultural soils and will be in-line with the principles of the circular economy.
In this project, we aim to valorise waste biomass for the biosynthesis of value-added products relevant to agriculture. Waste biomass will be used as a feedstock for microbes to produce soluble, hydrophilic biopolymers for agricultural applications. Selected microalgae will be investigated for their antifungal activity. The obtained hydrophilic polymer, be admixed with microalgal antifungal compounds, to create a novel, antifungal, biobased seed-protective coating. Prepared formulations will be applied to coat selected seed types. The quality of coatings and their protective activity against fungal pathogens, their impact on germination and subsequent plant development will be assessed in glasshouse plant experiments.
The initial period of study will provide the candidate with a basic training in microbiology, use of fermenters (upstream and downstream processing), isolation and characterisation of biopolymers, electron microscopy, and data interpretation. During the 3 years project student will also be trained on a variety of analytical and biological equipment and will learn how to perform glasshouse experiments and assess plant growth and development.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Prof Izabela Radecka email@example.com
Design, Development and Implementation of Vehicle Penetration Test to Safeguard Against Cybersecurity Threats in the Automotive Industry
The proposed project aims to address the increasing threat of cybercrime in the automotive industry by developing an innovative Vehicular Penetration Test (VPT). The project recognizes the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by automotive manufacturers in implementing robust security measures to protect vehicles from cyberattacks. The primary goal is to develop a reliable solution that overcomes the limitations and challenges of penetration testing in the automotive industry.
To achieve this, the project will follow a research design comprising several phases:
- Phase-1 involves conducting a comprehensive literature review to understand the current challenges faced by automotive manufacturers in implementing effective security measures and to analyse existing penetration testing methods applicable to the automotive industry.
- Phase-2 will focus on developing the VPT by incorporating the findings from the literature review. This will involve designing the service to detect and respond to cybersecurity events in and around vehicles, including the collection and analysis of log event data, responding to security events, and investigating root causes of anomalies.
- Phase-3 will involve integrating incentive and reward programs into the VPT to encourage white-hat hackers to report vulnerabilities they discover. This incentivization approach aims to promote a collaborative and proactive cybersecurity ecosystem.
- Phase-4: will provide implementation support, assessment, attestation, and certification services aligned with industry standards. This phase will involve designing and conducting validation tests to ensure that the VPT meets the required cybersecurity and software-update practices.
- Finally, in the Phase-5, the effectiveness of the VPT will be evaluated through real-world testing and user feedback. This evaluation will help identify any necessary adjustments and improvements to enhance the service's performance.
This project aims to contribute to the automotive industry's cybersecurity efforts by developing a specialized VPT solution that addresses the unique challenges and limitations of conducting penetration testing on vehicular networks.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Md Arafatur Rahman firstname.lastname@example.org
Towards a Greener Future: Investigating Sustainable and Affordable Consumer Electronics for Beyond 5G and 6G Networks
This PhD research project seeks to address some of the most pressing issues facing the telecommunications industry today, including energy consumption and e-waste. The deployment of 5G networks has led to a proliferation of network devices, products, services, applications, and businesses. However, billions of people worldwide are still offline, mainly due to the unavailability of affordable internet services and personal devices.
The project aims to develop sustainable and affordable consumer electronics for beyond 5G and 6G networks, leveraging the potential of B5G/6G connections to reduce e-waste and energy consumption while increasing accessibility. The research will explore how the development of sustainable and affordable consumer electronics can support this economic revolution and environmental challenges, leading to a paradigm shift in the consumer electronics (CE) industry.
The successful candidate will conduct cutting-edge research to develop an edge computing as a service ecosystem for next-generation consumer electronics. This research will involve a combination of theoretical and empirical analyses alongside the development of the new consumer electronic ecosystem with exploiting enhanced ultra reliable low latency wireless communication link, with the goal of producing a PhD thesis that will make a significant contribution to the field. The thesis will focus on the development of the edge computing as a service ecosystem for next-generation consumer electronics, exploring how it can be utilized to reduce energy consumption and e-waste while increasing accessibility.
The project will involve the development of innovative solutions to address the challenges facing the telecommunications industry, including the development of sustainable materials, energy-efficient designs, and scalable business models. The candidate will work closely with leading researchers in the field, collaborating with industry partners and stakeholders to develop practical solutions that can be implemented in real-world settings.
The research will have a significant impact on the telecommunications industry, contributing to the development of sustainable and affordable consumer electronics for beyond 5G and 6G networks. The findings of the research will be disseminated through academic publications and presentations at conferences and events, ensuring that they reach a wide audience of researchers, industry leaders, and policymakers.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Prof Mohammed Patwary email@example.com
LASER – Large Language Models for Academic SEarch and Recommendation
Scientific publications are an important vehicle for understanding the world around us; they contain scientific evidence that informs researchers and decision-makers, with a high impact on society. However, the rapid and large number of publications, in particular on preprint servers, causes an information overload for everybody struggling to keep up with developments in their field. This makes finding relevant information of high quality a challenging task, which requires advanced scholarly search and recommendation solutions. Recent developments in Large Language Models (LLMs) are having a huge impact on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related fields. LLMs are a type of AI trained on huge amounts of text, with ChatGPT/GPT-4 and Bard as popular examples. LLMs combined with conversational AI provide exciting new possibilities for interactive search and recommendation, but they are also suffering from severe flaws. While there are efforts to combine LLMs with, e.g., neural search, the endeavour of utilising LLMs to tackle information overload in academia has only started and more research is needed.
This PhD studentship will explore how LLMs can be used to improve academic search and recommendation and what their benefits and limitations are. This may include integrating LLMs into search and recommendation services or utilising search to keep LLMs from "hallucinating". A further part of this project is to estimate the quality of publications.
The PhD project provides exciting opportunities for the successful candidate to work with and critically reflect on innovative technologies at the forefront of AI that will shape our digital future. As a further incentive, the PhD candidate will be able to participate in an EU Horizon Europe Staff Exchange project, providing the opportunity to go on fully funded secondments to collaborate with an international network of researchers and industry partners.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Ingo Frommholz firstname.lastname@example.org
3D printing copper-diamond composite using laser-powder bed fusion for electric vehicle inverter cooling application
This project aims to develop an innovative and sustainable approach for manufacturing critical components used in electric vehicles such as inverter cooler plates. These components are responsible for maintaining the temperature of electric vehicle systems and preventing overheating, which can cause electronics and battery system failure.
Traditionally, inverter heat sinks and cooler plates are manufactured using conventional manufacturing processes that have expensive initial set-up costs and generate significant material waste. This PhD research will investigate the feasibility of using laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) 3D printing techniques to bring together a novel composition of copper and diamond to conceive thermally and structurally efficient inverter cooler plates. The project will look at 3D printing complex inverter cooler designs that are lightweight, high-performance, and cost-effective.
The project will first look at establishing the 3D printing of copper and diamond. This will be followed by process parameter optimisation for targeted thermal and structural properties. As the world transitions to net zero, the use of renewable energy and electric transportation continues to increase the demand for copper. Applying on-demand manufacture to this project will remove the requirements and complications of copper inverter cooler stock, minimise material consumption and reduce supply chain challenges ensuring sustainable material usage.
The project will involve material characterisation, mechanical testing, X-ray computed tomography, laser powder bed fusion, process parameter optimisation, computer-aided design (CAD), finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Arun Arjunan email@example.com
Green recovery and reuse of industrial metals from energy and electronics-based Systems (GREEBS)
The growing demand for green technologies and products such as solar panels, electric vehicles and energy storage systems correlates with more need in metals used in their production. For example, the World Bank estimated that over 3 billion tons of minerals and metals will be needed to deploy wind, solar and geothermal power and energy storage with an increase in demand by more than 300% for indium and silver compared to more than 200% for copper, neodymium, and zinc by 2050. Therefore, enabling recycling and reuse of these metals could play a crucial part in the low-carbon transition and to ensure their availability to future generations. GREEBS project aims to develop a relatively simple and industrial relevant green recovery and reuse of precious metals for industrial applications such as conductive inks and pastes widely used in energy and electronics-based Systems such as conductive connectors in printed circuit boards, flexible aerospace and automotive components, photovoltaics and current collectors in flexible batteries and supercapacitors.
The project will be carried out in collaboration with DZP technologies, Cambridge, a company in advance materials and formulations for plastic electronics, wearables, 3D Printing, energy storage and Internet-of-things. Different processes for selective metal extraction using biomaterials including agricultural waste and non-living biomass will be investigated. The resulting metals will be formulated into nanoparticles using both the facilities at the University and at DZP technology. A range of characterisation techniques will be used including particle size and zeta potential, drop shape analysis, atomic microscopy, X-ray crystallography, X-ray fluorescence and electron microscopy. At the end of this 3-year project, the candidate would have developed a range of skills in green technology, new approach to metals recovery and reuse in formulations such nanoparticles for conductive inks, pastes and adhesives applications.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Fideline Tchuenbou-Magaia firstname.lastname@example.org
Machine learning & modelling of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) for power generation from renewable resources
The University of Wolverhampton is offering an exciting Ph.D. opportunity in the field of Machine Learning and Modelling of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC) for Power Generation from Renewable Resources. This research position aims to explore the potential of SOFC technology in converting renewable resources such as Bio-gas into sustainable electrical power, with a focus on utilizing machine learning techniques for modelling and optimization.
The selected Ph.D. candidate will join a research group focused on developing advanced modelling techniques and utilizing machine learning algorithms to enhance the performance and efficiency of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells. The research aims to address:
- Develop accurate and efficient mathematical models to simulate SOFC behaviour under different operating conditions and input parameters.
- The SOFC system will be modelled using Aspen Plus software (first principle modelling) and economic assessment will be done using Aspen Economic Analysis
- Apply machine learning algorithms(Such as Artificial Neural Networks and Support Vector Machines) to analyse datasets and identify patterns that can improve SOFC performance and durability.
- Optimize SOFC design, materials, and operating parameters using machine learning-assisted simulations.
Prospective candidates should have the following:
- Experience in subject areas such as Chemical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Computer Science, or a related field.
- Familiarity with fuel cell technology and solid oxide fuel cells.
- Knowledge of programming languages such as Python, MATLAB will be advantageous.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Aman Dhir email@example.com
Modification of CO2 absorption-desorption process by changing configuration of the system
The focus of this study will be on the modification of process configuration using experiments and modelling to improve the efficiency of the CO2 absorption-desorption process. In addition, the effect of packing type and packed bed column internals will be examined. The economic analysis will be done to find the most appropriate process configuration in aspect of operating and capital cost. Aspen Plus software will be used to model different configurations of the absorption-desorption process for new amines as solvents. Aspen Economic Analyser will be used to perform cost analysis. Machine learning methods such as Artificial Neural Networks will be used to model the proposed configurations and compare the results of the ML based models with Aspen Plus model.
Aims and Objectives:
The focus of this study will be on the modification of process configuration using experiments and modelling to improve the efficiency of the CO2 absorption-desorption process. In addition, the effect of packing type and packed bed column internals will be examined. The economic analysis will be done to find the most appropriate process configuration in aspect of operating and capital cost. The main objectives can be summarised as:
- Selection of two Ionic Liquids and two Amines as solvent for CO2 absorption process
- Experimental study of the selected solvents
- Changing process configuration by considering heat integration in “Aspen Plus”.
- Economic analysis of proposed configurations using “Aspen Economic Evaluation”.
- Machine learning modelling such as Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) and Support Vector Machines (SVM) to predict the performance of each configuration.
The methodology of this project will follow the following work packages:
WP1- Literature review and selection of three solvents to perform process configuration.
WP2- Application of selected solvents in the lab scale absorber-desorber unit
WP3- Aspen Plus simulation of different process configurations
WP4- Aspen Economic Evaluation of the configurations
WP5- Implementation of machine learning
Prospective candidates should have the following:
- Experience in subject areas such as Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, or a related field.
- Familiarity with Aspen Plus software.
- Knowledge of programming languages such as Python, MATLAB will be advantageous.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Tohid Borhani firstname.lastname@example.org
Development an integrated flow-structure solver applicable to simulate very large wind turbines
The use of larger turbine blades offers significant improvement in efficiency while reducing wind energy cost. However, these larger, lightweight blades are more susceptible to aero-elastic influences. As such, accurate prediction of the aerodynamic loading and structural response of turbine blades is crucial to determine their design, material selection, and performance.
This project aims to employ a hybrid method that combines 'Large Eddy Simulation (LES)' and 'Actuator Line Modelling (ALM)' to accurately predict the flow field and aerodynamic loading on turbine blades. The LES technique will be used to model wind flow, while the ALM technique will be used for the turbine blades. This hybrid approach significantly reduces computational costs and eliminates grid structure complexity around the turbine blades in comparison to a pure LES approach. The structural analysis will be carried out using the Geometrically Exact Beam Theory (GEBT), which is a nonlinear aero-elastic model suitable for large, flexible rotor blades. The structural model will be coupled with a hybrid LES/ALM solver within the OpenFOAM framework, resulting in an improved fluid-structure interaction modelling approach suitable for efficiently modelling large wind turbines.
The project will require expertise in fluid dynamics, particularly computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and structural modelling. Familiarity with a programming language such as C++ will be advantageous.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Mohammad Ahmadi email@example.com.
Targeted delivery of antimicrobial compounds against the neglected tropical disease Leishmaniasis and the potentially blinding infection Acanthamoeba keratitis.
Acanthamoeba is free-living amoeba with a worldwide distribution that can cause a potentially blinding infection of the cornea called Acanthamoeba keratitis. The infection is usually found in contact lens wearers, and it is probably difficult eye infection to manage due to the absence of a licenced treatment. Current treatments do exist, but treatment times range from 6-30 months with many patients required corneal transplantation (25%) and surgical removal of the eye (5%).
Leishmania causes the neglected tropical disease Leishmaniasis which is found worldwide throughout the tropics. The disease is transmitted by sandflies and causes symptoms ranging from skin sores, facial disfigurements as well as damage to the liver and spleen. With an estimated 2 million cases per year and 70,000 deaths treatment involves intravenous amphotericin B which is highly toxic to the kidneys and oral miltefosine which is a potent teratogen which causes abortion and foetal abnormalities.
There is an urgent need to develop improved treatment strategies for both Leishmaniasis and Acanthamoeba keratitis.
Leishmania is a flagellated protozoan parasite that resides within human macrophages making it difficult to deliver sufficient quantities of antimicrobial compounds intracellular location. Acanthamoeba on the other hand is a free-living amoeba that engulfs its prey using a similar phagocytic process. The project aims to develop drug loaded lipid nanoparticles for the targeted delivery of antimicrobial compounds to improve the treatment of these two infections.
Further details (or informal enquiries) can be obtained via direct email to Director of Studies, Dr Wayne Heaselgrave firstname.lastname@example.org
Development of nano-encapsulated zinc and copper-diethyldithiocarbamate as novel immunomodulatory and cancer stem cell targeting medicine for multiple myeloma treatment
Supervisory Team: Professor Weiguang Wang, Professor Basu Supratik, Dr Vinodh Kannappan
Background: Multiple myeloma (MM) is the second most common blood cancer. Current best therapeutic options involve combining a proteasome inhibitor with one of the immunomodulatory imide drugs (IMiDs, lenalidamide or pomalidomide). All MM patients are ultimately relapsed. MM contains cancer stem cells (CSCs) commonly located in poorly vascularised regions. CSCs are typically associated with resistance to chemotherapy. Therefore, development of new drugs with immunomodulatory and CSC-targeting effect is of clinical urgency. Disulfiram (DS), an anti-alcoholism drug, demonstrates excellent activity against a wide range of cancers without toxicity to normal cells. DS chelates copper and zinc to form copper-diethyldithiocarbamate (Cu-DDC) and zinc-diethyldithiocarbamate (Zn-DDC) which are the active anticancer compounds. The anticancer activity of DS, Cu-DDC and Zn-DDC has been known for more than three decades. Its application in cancer clinic is limited by the very short half-life of these compounds in the bloodstream (< 4 min) and insolubility. Our team developed nanoparticles encapsulated DS, Cu-DDC and Zn-DDC which are injectable with long half-life (7 hours) showing strong anticancer efficacy in numerous cancer animal models. In our pilot studies, PEGylated liposome encapsulated Zn-DDC had stronger immunomodulatory and anti-MM effect than currently available IMiDs. It also reverses CSC-induced resistance and synergistically enhances the anti-MM activity of IMiDs.
Methodologies: 1. Using high-pressure homogenizer to generate PEG-Lipo/Zn-DDC and Cu-DDC. 2. Using MTT cytotoxicity to test the anti-MM activity. 3. Investigating the effect of PEG-Lipo/Zn-DDC and Cu-DDC on IKZF1/3-IRF4-cMYC-IL2 immunomodulatory pathway. 4. Examining the effect on CSCs.
Outcomes: 1. Development of PEG-Lipo/Zn-DDC and Cu-DDC; 2. Examination of the anti-MM effect of PEG-Lipo/Zn-DDC and Cu-DDC; 3. Elucidation of anti-MM mechanisms.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Prof Weiguang Wang email@example.com
Investigating the mechanisms that drive breast cancer metastasis to the brain
In recent years our understanding of the molecular basis of cancer development and evolution has improved greatly. However, there is still much to be discovered about the molecular biology that determines the spread (metastasis) of tumours to distant organs.
Breast cancers often metastasise to the brain and the prognosis for patients with breast-to-brain metastasis is very poor. There is relatively little known about which genes, and associated molecular pathways, are disrupted in cells that have the potential to metastases to, and then proliferate in, the brain.
We have been investigating the molecular basis of breast-to-brain metastasis for several years and recently carried out an exome sequencing screen to identify genes that are commonly mutated in these tumours. We believe that the gene mutations this screen identified may contribute to several processes involved in metastasis to, and eventual proliferation within, the brain.
This PhD project will investigate the role of these genes (their encoded proteins) in metastasis and investigate how loss of function mutations in these genes change cellular pathways/networks that regulate metastatic progression.
The aim of this work is to identify prognostic markers for, and therapeutic targets against, breast tumours that may metastasise to the brain which will ultimately result in clinical benefit.
The PhD student will gain experience in state-of-the-art biomedical research methods and techniques including gene editing, next generation sequencing techniques such as RNAseq, bioinformatic analysis, cell culture and tumour modelling, tumorigenicity assays, immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, western blotting, flow cytometry, quantitative PCR and associated cell biology techniques.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Mark Morris firstname.lastname@example.org
Characterization of molecular and cellular mechanisms implicated in evasion of anti-VEGF therapies by human brain tumours
Angiogenesis is a biological process by which new capillaries are formed from pre-existing vessels. It is well established that brain tumour growth depends on angiogenesis. Anti-angiogenic therapies directed against the tumour vasculature should deprive the tumour of oxygen and nutrients and therefore represent a powerful adjuvant to traditional therapy. Therapeutic approaches aimed to avoid the binding of pro-angiogenic factor VEGF to its receptor have therefore attracted considerable attention. However, although current anti-VEGF therapies lead to an initial reduction in the size of the tumour, this progression free period is transient and inevitably followed by a second phase of massive regrowth. Recent findings indicate that anti-VEGF evasion is associated to revascularisation of the tumour and to a strong increase in the invasiveness of the tumoral cells, but the molecules implicated in this process are not known yet.
This project aims to identify molecular targets implicated in anti-VEGF evasion in glioblastoma patients.
The PhD project will involve in vitro culture of glioblastoma cells derived from patients. These cultures will be characterised using molecular and cellular biology techniques including qPCR, western blot and immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. The response of patient-derived cells to anti-VEGF treatments will be analysed using cutting-edge -omics approaches, such as RNA-seq and proteomics.
The successful candidate will be extensively trained in these techniques as well as in improving presentation skills by participating in weekly laboratory meetings, internal student seminar series and presenting data in relevant conferences in the field.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Prof Angel Armesilla email@example.com
Advancing the applications of psychology in construction practices
Studies of the applications of ‘psychology in construction’ (Psycon) are beginning to emerge. Some researchers have studied the use of emotional intelligence in construction. However, wider research of the multi-dimensions of Psycon is yet to be carried out. This project will accordingly investigate the current uses of Psycon and go on to explore further areas that are viable for the construction industry to adopt.
The many workers in the often complex construction projects have diverse personalities; they often experience stress, and resort to individualistic stress-coping behaviours which may not be most effective. The use of psychologically backed coping techniques in construction is thus germane but many unanswered questions still remain:
- What psychological concepts are currently used in the construction domain and how wide is this practice?
- What potential psychological techniques remain unused in the construction setting?
- What can facilitate the greater adoption of Psycon?
The study is thus aimed at advancing the use of psychology in construction.
Research design / methods
Phase 1: A qualitative study to use grounded theory. Interview data will be evaluated by content analysis to establish 1) the elements of psychology that are suitable for construction practices, 2) the hindrances and current levels of implementation of psychological concepts on construction and 3) how to advance the use of psychology in construction.
Phase 2: A framework will be developed on the basis of the findings of phase 1 and validated through three or more Focus Group Discussions (N ≤ 36) where their ensuing data will be content analysed.
Mixed sampling methods will be utilised in both phases 1&2; and the expert research participants will come from both academia and industry.
The study will develop a framework for incorporating psychological principles, theories and approaches in construction practices.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Ezekiel Chinyio firstname.lastname@example.org
Enhancement of Building Resilience by application of Shape Memory Alloy (SMA)
Large-scale destruction of infrastructure and loss of life in the recent earthquakes in Turkey and other disasters around the world in the past indicates that the designed structures and buildings are still not resilient enough. The primary motivation for the proposed research is to develop strategies for optimal usage of shape memory alloy (SMA) in a building structure to enhance its resilience under extreme loads i.e., earthquakes, hurricanes and blasts.
SMA is a smart material having several unique properties such as (i) the ‘Shape Memory Effect (SME)’ by which the material can memorize a shape (ii) ‘super-elasticity (SE)’ i.e., the ability to undergo large recoverable strains (typically up to 4-8%) and (iii) different Young’s modulus in two phases (martensitic and austenitic) of the material. In the present work, the use of two types of SMAs i.e., the Nickel-Titanium alloy and the Fe-based SMAs will be explored.
Some important aspects proposed to be examined are (i) the performance of various connections and structural members enhanced with SMA (ii) SMA application to high-rise buildings (iii) optimum usage of SMA within structures, systems and components of buildings. The effectiveness of SMA for resilience under extreme loads will be assessed against performance criteria defined by a reduction in damage to the overall building structure, improved safety of occupants, inter-story drift, and re-centering capability of the structure.
Finite element simulations will be performed along with testing of laboratory-scaled structural members and connection enhanced with SMA. Initial tests will be for quasi-static pushover conditions followed by impact dynamic tests, that shall provide confidence in theoretical simulations for various building configurations under extreme excitations.
Important outcomes will be a deeper insight into strategies to be adopted for SMA applications and develop guidelines pertaining to the resilient design of buildings and civil structures using SMA including retrofitting strategies.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Shashank Gupta email@example.com
A model for the implementation off-site construction approach on brownfield sites for sustainable housing delivery
The proposed research project is based at the Centre for Construction Futures (CFRC) in the School of Architecture and Built at the University of Wolverhampton. You will work across two research groups within the Centre: Digital Construction and Building & Land.
Housing plays a critical role in society and yet the supply remains inadequate. Studies have identified a range of factors, including land availability and the prevalence of brownfield sites, as limiting the housing supply in the UK. The government has attributed its inability to meet its target of 300,000 homes per year to the traditional approach used in housing projects, and consequently suggested the adoption of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) such as off-site construction (OSC).
Off-site construction has been identified as a potential method for improving outcomes, as it contributes to the accelerated completion of housing projects, while also promoting efficiency and sustainability. While there is evidence of OSC being employed in UK construction projects, there has been no research undertaken to explore how this approach could be used to deliver housing on brownfield sites. In England alone, there is the potential to develop 1.2 million houses on the 23,000 brownfield sites that cover 27,000 hectares of land. Therefore, this study seeks to understand what off-site construction means for housing delivery on brownfield sites in the UK while also developing a framework for successful OSC implementation. To achieve this, a multiplicity of research approaches will be employed, including systematic review, interviews, questionnaire surveys and case studies, with key stakeholders such as land remediation specialists, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the National Brownfield Research Institute, off-site construction contractors and manufacturers, housing developers, the council, professional bodies, construction professionals and the planning department.
The outcome of this research will be the development of a step-by-step framework that will support stakeholders in the successful implementation of OSC on brownfield sites, the identification of risk factors and associated mitigation strategies, and the development of guidelines for stakeholder engagement and collaboration, with the potential to revolutionise the UK housing supply.
For further information regarding the project or an informal discussion please contact Director of Studies, Dr Emmanuel Daniel firstname.lastname@example.org
To apply for one of the above PhD Research Studentship applicants must hold a first class/distinction at Master and/or Bachelor level of study.
Applications to include one identified project, a full CV (including 2 referee names and contact details), transcripts and a letter of application outlining the motivation for applying (maximum of 2 pages). Applicants from outside UK must provide evidence of English Language requirement as stated in https://www.wlv.ac.uk/research/research-degrees/
Application submission deadline is 10:00am BST 19 June 2023 to FSEPGR@wlv.ac.uk
A shortlist of candidates will be prepared from the pool of applicants, in line with Faculty of Science and Engineering Post Graduate Research (PGR) studentship selection criteria, who will be invited to attend an interview with a panel of academic staff, week commencing 26 June 2023.
Following this process all successful candidates will be notified to enrol in July 2023 on a PhD degree programme. The studentship award will include tuition fees at home level for the first three years of full-time study including any write-up period fees and research support fees.
For further information on fees https://www.wlv.ac.uk/apply/funding-costs-fees-and-support/fees-and-costs/research-fees/
Informal enquiries are welcome and should be directed to individual Director of Studies mentioned above.