Mechanical Engineering: Fully Funded SUSPRS PhD Scholarship: Experimental Characterisations and Modelling of Facial Tissues for Simulation of Facial Deformations (RS640)

  • DeadlineDeadline: 26 June 2024
  • WalesWales

Description

Closing date: 26 June 2024

Funding providers: Swansea University Strategic Partnership Research Scholarships (SUSPRS) with Université Grenoble Alpes, France

Subject areas: Biomechanics, Biomedical Engineering, Computational Mechanics, Experimental Mechanics 

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2024 (Enrolment open from mid-September)
  •  January 2025 (Enrolment open from mid-December)

Supervisors:

Aligned programme of study: PhD in Mechanical Engineering

Mode of study: Full-time

Project description: 

This is a joint PhD programme between Swansea University and Université Grenoble Alpes.

Established in 2012/13, the Swansea and Grenoble (UGA) Institutional Strategic Partnership was one of the first major strategic partnerships between a UK and French university. It is a unique, institutional-wide multi-disciplinary collaboration, which includes joint research and publication, student and staff exchange, joint PhDs and joint master’s programmes. Over 30 Joint Doctoral Degrees have been developed through the strategic partnership to date, across diverse subject areas, including medicine, engineering and law. Candidates spend 50% of their time in both Swansea and Grenoble and are jointly supervised by academic staff from both universities. Successful candidates receive a double degree from the Université Grenoble Alpes and Swansea University.

Thanks to increasingly precise and sophisticated medical imaging techniques and fast-growing powerful image morphing tools, there are ways to predict the appearance of a patient's face after surgery. Despite some limitations, these methods are currently in use, particularly in the field of cosmetic surgery. Some craniofacial surgeries are not primarily aimed at improving the appearance of the face, but at reconfiguring the bone and/or muscle structure of the face to improve or restore in the case of the after-effects of a trauma, the functional capacities of the patient's orofacial area (mastication, swallowing, speech, facial expressiveness, etc.). For that, the estimation of the post-operative configuration from a morphing of the pre-operative configuration is not sufficient: it is necessary to be able to offer practitioners’ tools capable of predicting how bone and muscle modifications will influence the patient's ability to chew, swallow, speak, smile or grimace. Such tools must be therefore based on biomechanical models that simulate the physical characteristics of the face and can simulate the action of the orofacial muscles on the soft tissues of the face and on the movements of the mandible and lips.

Current research takes biomechanical modelling of the face, with or without integration of the muscle structures that mobilise the tissues during facial mimics or to produce speech. These models are intended to be tools in assisting surgery, but the lack of knowledge of mechanical properties and the non-optimal modelling of "soft parts" do not allow these models to be fully effective and used in clinic.

The objective of the project is to set up a strategy for characterising the mechanical behaviour of biological tissues to link the limited measurements that can be made in vivo with the set of measurements that can be made in post-mortem. Afterwards, the aim is to adapt the constitutive equations to each patient and to come closer to a subject-specific simulation considering the predominant physical phenomena.

Project aim: Building upon unique and unparallel experimental works by the partner in Grenoble Alps University, France and advanced computational models pioneered by Zienkiewicz Institute at Swansea University, this PhD project sets out an ambitious research plan which will investigate, with the help of cutting-edge computational modelling and experimental validation, two fundamental aspects: (1) in vivo and post-mortem data of soft tissues around the human facial regions, to obtain maximum information and as closely as possible to the physiological data, and (2) to propose physically motivated constitutive models from all the experimental data obtained, whether mechanical or imaging techniques.

Resources: The PhD student will take advantage of state-of-the-art computational methods developed by Zienkiewicz Institute and the rare access to the Anatomy Lab facilities, Grenoble Hospital for fresh tissue experimentations.

Locations: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Bay Campus, Swansea University, UK and TIMC Lab, Université Grenoble Alpes, France

Available resources/facilities: Access to experimental platform in TIMC lab and in Grenoble Hospital, France and relevant Computer clusters, software, etc.

For more details please see here: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/postgraduate/scholarships/research/mechanical-engineering-susprs-phd-experimental-2024-rs640.php

Entry Requirements

Candidates must hold a UK bachelor’s degree with a minimum of Upper Second Class honours or overseas bachelor’s degree deemed equivalent to UK honours (by UK ECCTIS) and achieved a grade equivalent to UK Upper Second Class honours in Engineering or similar relevant science discipline. If you are eligible to apply for the scholarship but do not hold a UK degree, you can check our comparison entry requirements (see country specific qualifications). Please note that you may need to provide evidence of your English Language proficiency. 

Applicants must hold a master's qualification to comply with Grenoble’s admissions requirements. 

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.

ATAS

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. 

The aim of this research is to develop mathematical models based on experimental data of facial tissues for simulation of facial deformations. The planning of craniofacial surgery requires the integration of multiple and complex data, whether anatomical, clinical, or prosthetic, all of which will influence the patient's post-operative conditions. This complexity sometimes makes therapeutic decisions difficult. Current research takes biomechanical modelling of the face, with or without integration of the muscle structures that mobilise the tissues during facial mimics or to produce speech. These models are intended to be tools in assisting surgery, but the lack of knowledge of mechanical properties and the non-optimal modelling of "soft parts" do not allow these models to be fully effective and used in clinic. Moreover, current models are based on isotropic hyperelasticity without considering the variability & time-dependency of the tissues and the fibrous orientations at any point of the face. The objective of the project is to set up a strategy for characterising the mechanical behaviour of biological tissues to link the limited measurements that can be made in vivo with the set of measurements that can be made in post-mortem. Afterwards, the aim is to adapt the constitutive equations to each patient and to come closer to a subject-specific simulation considering the predominant physical phenomena.

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

Funding

This scholarship covers the full cost of tuition fees and an annual stipend of £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 Mechanical Engineering / PhD / Full-time / 3 Years / October (or January)

    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 pgrscholarships@swansea.ac.uk where staff will be happy to assist you in submitting your application.

  2. Start year – please select 2024 (or 2025)
  3. Funding (page 8) –
  • ‘Are you funding your studies yourself?’ – please select No
  • ‘Name of Individual or organisation providing funds for study’ – please enter ‘RS640 - Experimental Characterisations’

*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 e-mail). We strongly advise you to provide the listed supporting documents by the advertised application closing date. Please note that your application may not be considered without the documents listed:

  • 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 Mokarram Hossain (mokarram.hossain@swansea.ac.uk).

*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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