PhD Project: Data-driven population dynamics for biofiltration

  • West Midlands, All EnglandWest Midlands, All England


125th Anniversary Scholarship in the School of Mathematics

PhD Project: Data-driven population dynamics for biofiltration

This PhD project will be based in the School of Mathematics which is part of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 (UK time) on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

About the project

The quality and quantity of freshwater has dramatically declined during the 21st century due to significant increase in agriculture, industry and other human activities. Current water treatment technologies are only able to filter a limited range of chemicals and microplastics, require high operational energy and large and expensive infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, the development of affordable and sustainable filter technologies that effectively clean wastewater to the standards required is a global priority for industry and government agencies.

The Orsini group in the School of Biosciences are developing an exciting biofiltration technology that uses tiny waterfleas called Daphnia to filter water and consume waste products, thus eliminating the need for costly and complex filters. However, the performance of biofilters like this one can be variable, dependent on fluctuations in environmental conditions such as temperature and rainfall and variations in seasonal medicine use. These changes can greatly affect the density of Daphnia populations and thus, the quality of treated water. Therefore, for the successful implementation of a biofilter technology, it is crucial to be able to ensure that the density of Daphnia populations remains at, or at least near, optimal levels.

The aim of this project is to develop and validate a quantitatively reliable model of the population dynamics in the biofilter. The project will use the mathematical framework of delay differential equations to model the time it takes for Daphnia to mature, in combination with identifiability analysis and Bayesian statistics to design laboratory experiments from which model parameters will be uniquely inferred. The outcomes of the project will be a general toolkit that will allow us to predict when and how to interfere with the technology in order to ensure near optimal performance at all times.

The student on this project will benefit from a broad training in mathematical modelling and applied statistics and their application in a cutting-edge technology. They will enjoy close interactions with members of the group of mathematical biology and healthcare and gain extensive experience of interdisciplinary collaboration with the Orsini group, which will maximise the impact of the student’s work. The skills that they will develop are highly valuable in academia, government and industry, particularly the environmental sector.

Entry Requirements

Applicants will be expected to have a good Honours degree (First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree) awarded by a recognised University in a relevant subject.

Who can apply?

These scholarships are designed to create opportunities and address the underrepresentation of talented Black or Black mixed heritage students in academia. Applicants who meet all of the following criteria are eligible to apply:

1. UK nationals and eligible for registration as Home students

2. Members of one of the following ethnic groups:

  • Black African
  • Black Caribbean
  • Black Other
  • Mixed – White and Black Caribbean
  • Mixed – White and Black African
  • Other mixed background (to include Black African, Black Caribbean or Black Other)

3. Not already enrolled on a PhD programme at the University of Birmingham

What does the scholarship provide?

1. Financial Support: Recipients of these scholarships will receive substantial financial support, including a stipend at UKRI rates, which is set at £18,622 per year. This support covers tuition fees, living expenses, and research-related costs, including bench fees. This support is designed to alleviate the financial burden often associated with pursuing a doctoral degree.

2. Mentorship and Guidance: Scholarship recipients will benefit from mentorship opportunities and guidance from accomplished faculty members who are dedicated to helping them succeed in their academic and research endeavours.

3. Research Opportunities: We are committed to providing an exceptional research environment. Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge resources, and a vibrant scholarly community.

4. Community Building: A key component of the scholarship programme is the creation of a supportive community of Black British researchers pursuing PhDs. This network will foster collaboration and peer support among scholars.

5. Research Training Support Grant: In addition to financial support, scholarship recipients will receive a research training support grant. This grant is intended to support conference attendance, fieldwork, and other essential activities that enhance their research and academic growth.

6. Commitment to Inclusivity: We are dedicated to building an inclusive academic environment that values diversity and ensures equitable access to education.

Contact the lead supervisor

Once applicants have familiarised themselves with the above project details, they are encouraged to contact the lead PhD supervisor to discuss the project and the applicant’s suitability for the project. This is recommended before you submit an application to the PhD project.


How to apply

After applicants have made contact with the lead PhD supervisor, you will then need to apply to the PhD project using our online application portal: you should select ‘125th Anniversary Scholarships (EPS)‘. You will need to create an account for the online application portal and you will be prompted to sign-in upon your return to the portal.

You do not need to complete your application in one session; you can save your application at each stage and return to the portal at any stage before submission, particularly if you do not have all of the necessary documents when you begin your application.

As this is an ‘advertised PhD’, in which you will studying the above project that has already been provided by the academic supervisor(s), you do not need to submit a research proposal. Your personal statement will suffice for determining your suitability for the PhD project as well as your previous academic, professional and personal experiences.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 (UK time) on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

For your application you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Personal Statement
  • References
  • Academic certificate and transcript(s) for all prior degrees
  • Sample Work


Who is eligible to apply?

Please visit website for details

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