Biomedical Engineering: Fully Funded Swansea and Boston Scientific Ltd PhD Scholarship: Bioprosthetic Design Evaluation Through Experimental-Computational Techniques (RS592)

  • DeadlineDeadline: 29 April 2024
  • WalesWales


Closing date: 29 April 2024

Funding providers: Swansea University's Faculty of Science and Engineering and Boston Scientific Ltd.

Subject areas: Experimental Mechanics, Heart Valves, Digital Image Correlation (DIC), Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV), Biomechanics, Fluid-Structure Interaction

Project start date: 

  • October 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-September)


Aligned programme of study: PhD in Biomedical Engineering

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description:

Heart valve (HV) disease is a major cause of cardiac malfunction with high mortality if left untreated. Over 200,000 patients/year receive bioprosthetic HV replacements, which exhibit superior haemodynamic behaviour and enable transcatheter replacements. However, the material and geometric design of these highly flexible structures is extremely challenging. A detailed understanding of HV loading and the corresponding mechanical strains and stresses is essential to ensure device longevity (37million cardiac cycles per year!), whilst ensuring optimal cardiovascular function for the patient. This project proposes to integrate state-of-the-art image-based measurement techniques with computational models for a holistic characterisation of HV fluid-structure interaction behaviour. The HVs will be tested in a pulsatile flow mock loop that simulates cardiovascular flow and pressure waveforms. The PhD student will exploit a combination of digital image correlation (DIC) and particle image velocimetry (PIV) methods to robustly characterise the biomechanical behaviour of the HVs. DIC is a non-contact optical measurement technique that can capture full-field displacement and strain on HVs. DIC is highly adaptable and is widely applied in mechanical testing when complex, non-uniform strain fields are expected and where point-based measurements or hard-wired gauges are impractical and insufficient. A multi-camera setup will be used to accurately capture detailed strain fields where the HV rotates and deforms from closed to open state and back. The 4D PIV system will also allow dynamic coherent flow structures to be captured, enabling a more complete view on valve performance. A computational workflow may be integrated alongside these experiments to create a powerful framework to aid future design development. 

In situ mechanical testing with any imaging techniques has its own challenges in immersed conditions, e.g., optical distortions. The Team at the Biomedical Engineering Simulation & Testing Lab (BEST Lab), led by Dr Arora and Dr van Loon, are actively pushing the boundaries of DIC, as well as particle image velocimetry (PIV) and digital volume correlation (DVC) amongst other image-based experimental mechanics methods. Measurements in challenging conditions are a focus of the Team for >15 years. The challenge of combined imaging methods may require bespoke and novel solutions to the imaging setup. Challenges with strain corrections due to variable distortions, pattern durability, application compatibility and technique effectiveness under controlled cardiovascular flow loading needs to be pursued in this studentship. Such challenges working in complex measurement environments and translation from the lab to industrial applications have been performed by the Team over the years. This project will contribute to extending this capability, developing novel measurements with close collaboration with the industrial partner.  

The BEST Lab forges a synergy of computational and experimental expertise to deliver fundamental insight, novel technologies, and translational research solutions. The BEST Lab provides a space for interdisciplinary researchers to grow ideas from concept through to manufacture, instrumentation, and testing, alongside advanced computational mechanics, machine learning, and data analytics workflows. For more information on the facilities, a virtual tour is available. The dynamic group (>20 PGR students and Research Staff) leverages expertise in both simulation and testing to deliver high-quality research outputs, as well as services and products, to meet the unique needs of our collaborators in industry. Therefore there will be scope for the student to gain wider skills to work between teams in virtual testing and modelling alongside the experimental research focus. The Space can host equipment and people for specific projects to ensure translation of research methods from university to industry.  

The sponsoring company, Boston Scientific Ltd., will be engaged throughout in developing ideas and applications with regular reporting expected throughout the project by the successful candidate. Collaborating research groups and stakeholders from across disciplines will regularly engage throughout the studentship to broaden the development opportunities of the candidate. By the end of the project, the candidate will have acquired a portfolio of skills and external collaborators that will provide a strong footing for future careers in either academia or industry. There is a wide range of expertise within the BEST Lab to support on specialist topics in this project as well as interdisciplinary skills development of the successful candidate. 

For more details please see here:

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in Engineering or similar relevant science discipline. If you are eligible to apply for the scholarship (i.e. a student who is eligible to pay the UK rate of tuition fees) but do not hold a UK degree, you can check our comparison entry requirements (see country specific qualifications). We also welcome applications from graduates in computational science or mathematics. Please note that you may need to provide evidence of your English Language proficiency. 

English Language: IELTS 6.5 Overall (with no individual component below 5.5) or Swansea University recognised equivalent. Full details of our English Language policy, including certificate time validity, can be found here. 

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.


Please note that the programme requires some applicants to hold ATAS clearance, further details on ATAS scheme eligibility are available on the UK Government website. 

ATAS clearance IS NOT required to be held as part of the scholarship application process, successful award winners (as appropriate) are provided with details as to how to apply for ATAS clearance in tandem with scholarship course offer. 

If you have any questions regarding your academic or fee eligibility based on the above, please email with the web-link to the scholarship(s) you are interested in. 


This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend at £19,237.

Additional research expenses will also be available.

How To Apply

To apply, please complete your application online with the following information:

  1. Course choice – please select Biomedical Engineering / PhD / Full-time / 3 Years / October

    In the event you have already applied for the above programme previously, the application system may issue a warning notice and prevent application, in this event, please email where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

  2. Start year – please select 2024
  3. Funding (page 8) –
  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS592 - Bioprosthetic Design Evaluation’

*It is the responsibility of the applicant to list the above information accurately when applying, please note that applications received without the above information listed will not be considered for the scholarship award.

One application is required per individual Swansea University led research scholarship award; applications cannot be considered listing multiple Swansea University led research scholarship awards.

We encourage you to complete the following to support our commitment to providing an environment free of discrimination and celebrating diversity at Swansea University: 

As part of your online application, you MUST upload the following documents (please do not send these via email). We strongly advise you to provide the listed supporting documents by the advertised closing date, where possible:

  • CV
  • Degree certificates and transcripts (if you are currently studying for a degree, screenshots of your grades to date are sufficient)
  • A cover letter including a ‘Supplementary Personal Statement’ to explain why the position particularly matches your skills and experience and how you choose to develop the project.
  • Two references (academic or previous employer) on headed paper or using the Swansea University reference form. Please note that we are not able to accept references received citing private email accounts, e.g. Hotmail. Referees should cite their employment email address for verification of reference.
  • Evidence of meeting English Language requirement (if applicable).
  • Copy of UK resident visa (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of EDI form submission (optional) 

Informal enquiries are welcome, please contact Dr Hari Arora ( / Dr Raoul van Loon (

*External Partner Application Data Sharing – Please note that as part of the scholarship application selection process, application data sharing may occur with external partners outside of the University, when joint/co- funding of a scholarship project is applicable.

Who is eligible to apply?

This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.

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