Kelvin Smith PhD Scholarships 2015/16
Performing Geochronology: Deep Time and Sustainable Futures along Scotland’s Western Seaboard - Angela Rawlings (LKAS PhD Candidate)
This cross-disciplinary studentship emphasises how a creative research investigation into the climatic and tectonic processes operating along Scotland’s Western Seaboard can help to nurture and communicate a sense of the 'deep time' involved in these. This includes the ‘slow’ temporality associated with glaciations, and the ‘quick’ events of storms and flooding, but also organic temporalities, from evolution to settlement patterns. Such an expanded notion of time is crucial if we are to respond to what Dipesh Chakrabarty has termed the sense of ‘historical confusion’ that climate change presents us with. For Chakrabarty, the uncanny spectre of ‘a world without us’ produces a sense of melancholia and helplessness. One way in which this despair might be countered is by imagining ourselves as planetary creatures whose history has always been entangled with a larger natural history. The Natural Sciences provide knowledge of the ‘more than human world;’ however it is increasingly apparent that the Arts and Humanities have a pivotal role to play in this reimagining in the extent to which they offer representations of the human that reflect and produce dominant modes of behaviour.
This studentship investigates:
1. How field-based geochronological dating methods can use cultural artefacts (written and image-based, and oral traditions), ranged alongside physical artefacts (eg. morphologies and sedimentary archives), to outline the extent and impact of particular climatic/tectonic processes along Scotland’s Western Seaboard.
2. How this work can be theorised, contextualised and composed with respect to extant artistic practices and theories of aesthetics.
3. How an appreciation of the 'deep time' involved in Scotland’s changing Western Seaboard can produce 3 site-specific performances/exhibitions such that new narratives of place and alternative histories emerge. The student will draw on geomorphological/archaeological data and techniques as creative resources, and will prompt reflection on new ways of communicating science.
Scotland’s Western Seaboard is undergoing a post-Ice Age isostatic rebound, in addition to an increased
rate of storminess and Anthropocentric land use changes, leading to a complex series of sea/land/air
processes and interactions. The machair system, for example, is a sloping coastal dune-plain formed by
wind-blown shell-sand, sometimes incorporating a grassland (managed by traditional low-intensity
agriculture) to the landward. Later prehistoric and medieval settlements have reshaped these via grazing,
cultivation and artificial drainage, and have in turn been buried beneath the aeolian sands. Songs and
folklore, as well as geoarchaeological evidence, reveal episodes of both slow and rapid flooding. This pattern
of instability extends into modern times, leading to concerns around disappearing lands and forced
resettlement. At the onset of the 21st century, the Western Seaboard has been identified as a ‘climate
change hotspot.’ How do we proceed to ‘place’ ourselves and others, temporally as well as spatially, in such
a dynamic environment?
The studentship will explore this issue via an investigation of deep time. It will revolve around 3 sites across
the Western Seaboard from which:
- Geochronologies will be constructed, using a combination of archival research and material dating, withreference to specific, transformative events
- A creative imaginary that invokes a sense of the spaces and times of the planet (what we call a ‘geopoetics’) will emerge. This will be based on combining field-based methods from performance, geomorphology and archaeology.
- A series of 3 creative outputs will be produced that perform this imaginary for local audiences, alongside a thesis.
Though there is a current urgency to provide cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems, such as climate change, the relations between art and science have formed one of the most sustained issues in academic debate, from the work of Leonardo to Snow’s ‘two cultures’ hypothesis. Despite a modern-day institutional compartmentalization that seeks to distance the arts – and the humanities of which they are a part – from the natural sciences, they revolve within a shared history. Profs Lavery and Dixon’s research is concerned with understanding this shared history, and the current dynamics of art/science collaboration, focusing specifically on: the wider contexts that encompass settings for interaction; the scientific research undertaken and the disciplinary, technological, and regulatory contexts that surround it; and the work of the artists, in terms of genre, medium, message, technology, senses, access and dissemination. When the research of Prof. Bishop and Dr Brophy is taken into account, the student will benefit from a unique collaboration of academic interests and world-class expertise.
In addition to producing academic and creative work that takes forward these art/science debates, the student will gain valuable experience in working with academic and non-academic partners, organising, initiating and making publicly accessible artworks, and developing and creating sustainable networks with a range of possible funding bodies, including Creative Scotland, Ecoarts Scotland, Glasgow Life and Cape Farewell. This will benefit the student’s future career path and provide a number of possible routes into both academic and creative-industry based employment. Finally – and importantly – the project provides unique, highly valued cross-disciplinary training that combines field-based techniques from the arts, Earth Sciences and archaeology. From the vantage point of this present, this cross-disciplinary methodological expertise will prepare the student to take advantage of what will certainly be one of the dominant research imperatives of academic and arts-based funding bodies in the next decade or so.
Lead Supervisor: Professor Carl Lavery
Theatre, Film and Television Studies
Supervisor 2: Professor Deborah Dixon
School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor 3: Professor Paul Bishop
School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Supervisor 4: Dr Kenny Brophy
Angela Rawlings (LKAS PhD Candidate)
Food Consumption & the Emergence of Social Complexity in Greater Mesopotamia - Elsa Perruchini (LKAS PhD Candidate)
This project will shed new light onto practices of food consumption and identity in the proverbial ‘Cradle of Civilizations’ by investigating the role of specific organic substances in the (re-)production and negotiation of social status and cultural identities at a time when the world’s first urban societies developed in greater Mesopotamia. Drawing on recent anthropological and archaeological theories of emergent social complexity and the role of food consumption in these processes, the proposed project will examine questions of diet and food habits using a tightly integrated framework of historical, iconographic and archaeological contextual analysis in conjunction with methods derived from organic geochemistry to isolate and identify the residues of perishable substances on pottery and lithic tools. Of particular interest will be substances generally associated with socially significant consumption events such as wine and beer, whose preference may indicate social and cultural differences in consumption practices in the study region. Secondary products of livestock-rearing such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, will be investigated to provide insights into the relationships of settled farmers and more mobile pastoral groups and their connections with the highland regions of the Zagros. The question of the local production or importation of such substances will also be addressed. The focus region of the project comprises the south Mesopotamian plains and the Zagros piedmonts of modern-day Iraq from the fifth to the second millennium BC.
The scholar will investigate evidence for the consumption of socially significant types of food and drink in the ancient Near East in the period from the fifth to the second millennium BC and their role in the production of social and cultural identities using a combination of archaeological/historical and geochemical approaches. This will involve a synthetic analysis of published archaeological sources, texts in translation and iconographic evidence accessible through publications or in museum collections combined with the contextual and scientific analysis of unpublished ceramic containers and lithic material from ongoing fieldwork in the Kurdish Region of Iraq and extant museum collections.
Glatz will provide guidance and supervision with regards to the project’s cultural and theoretical framework and field-based archaeological training. Toney will provide training and guidance in the extraction of organic residues using a range of techniques, including ultrasonication, separation via silica-gel flash chromatography, a Gas Chromatography-Flame Ionization Detector (GC-FID), Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) and stable isotope analysis.
While being fully integrated in existing research groups in Archaeology and Earth Sciences, the scholar will form the basis for the integration of crossdisciplinary interests in seminars and discussion fora in the two disciplines. As part of their professional training and career development, the scholar will be encouraged to network and present at graduate, and - as work progresses - national and international conferences in both disciplines. He/she will collaborate with Glatz and Toney in the production of journal articles and future grant applications and given the opportunity to acquire teaching experience in Archaeology and Earth Sciences in field, laboratory and classroom contexts. Additional expertise based in Archaeology is available for archaeometry, database and GIS-based approaches. The scholar will be further trained and supported through Archaeology’s, the College of Arts’ and the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences’ graduate training and supervision programmes.
Lead Supervisor: Dr Claudia Glatz
Supervisor 2: Dr Jaime Toney
Geographical and Earth Sciences
Elsa Perruchini (LKAS PhD Candidate)
Development of a SMART stent for coronary artery disease - Anubhav Bussooa (LKAS PhD Candidate)
Despite significant improvements in healthcare provision, cardiovascular disease remains the number
one cause of death in the Western World. Atherosclerosis is the pathological condition that underlies
two thirds of heart attacks and strokes that contribute to more than 4.3 million premature deaths in
Europe per annum. The economic burden to the European Union for cardiovascular disease is
estimated at over €196 Billion. The current clinical approaches of stenting coronary artery vascular
atherosclerotic plaques and surgical resection have significant risk and associated costs.
This proposal attempts to develop a SMART stent device that can be deployed using existing surgical
approaches, yet provides advanced technological properties that are predicted to reduce patient
morbidity and mortality. A stent device which can interact and report on its own vessel status would
have clear benefit to physicians. One that can then respond by altering the local environmental
conditions will have additional benefit to patients, with the potential to delay complications of the
procedure and disease aetiology.
This project will achieve the goal of a smart stent through the combination of Electrical Engineering
and Biomedical Science by studying the interactions of electrical fields from the stent with the cells
covering its surface.
Traditional angioplastic stent deliveries have a propensity to cause vessel injury during deployment and
post procedure. Instent restenosis (ISR) is typically observed as a hyper-proliferative cellular response
that can result in re-occlusion of the vessel along with other complications such as thrombosis in over
16% of patients. This project proposes to use the stent as a device to wirelessly measure electrical
impedance as a measure of in-stent cellularity, effectively a self-reporting stent. Upon detection of ISR a
response can be elicited in vivo and in real-time to induce electro-mediated cell lysis.
A further complication of atherosclerosis and subsequent angioplasty is cap thinning, erosion and poststent
thrombosis. The speed at which stents are covered by cells is thought to reduce their inherent
thrombogenicity. Electromigration has recently been shown as an elegant form of cellular manipulation
(Cohen et al Nature Materials 13, 530-530). The development of in vitro methodologies and in vivo
translation of this work; directing and sheparding cells to accelerate vascular healing and reendothelialisation
is a realistic goal within the timeframe of this PhD proposal.
It is predicted the in vivo application of wireless external magnetically induced electrical fields to the
patient’s stent would mediate these effects and circumvent complications associated with our wired in
vitro 2D versions. This technology could have far reaching consequences with clear additional benefits to
the patient. These would need to be assessed early on in the project with patients and prospective
stakeholders. At the University of Glasgow the project while in its infancy is supported by pilot data and
collaborative efforts in fabricating and testing 2D and 3D micro-chamber devices including wireless data
transmission. We believe the large and widespread potential impact, the timeliness in respect to initial
demonstrations in combination with the commitment of both supervisors merits the time and financial support of an LKAS Scholarship.
Over the past year a framework for this project has been constructed for the investigation of electromigration
of cells for the translational development of smart stent technology. Over summer 2014 a
SULSA (Scottish Universities and Life Science Alliance) research student from Paris was attracted by
the project and able to initiate the practical work. This preliminary work has now been further
solidified by the successful recruitment of a British Heart Foundation (BHF) MRes/PhD student for a
12 week lab rotation. These short projects have allowed us to troubleshoot and develop a protocol for
studying cell/electrical field’s interactions. We have significantly de-risked the process by showing
healthy cells on our electrical devices retain viability and additionally in our most recent experiments
we have confirmed we can induce electro-cell lysis in vitro in a regulatable fashion.
In order to facilitate the continued development of this project a full time PhD student is requested.
The student would gain a wide variety of skills including cell and molecular biology through to cell and
tissue engineering and the principles of 2D and 3D stent design. Through Dr Neale’s supervision the
student will be affiliated with a large and dynamic group of research students in the Biomedical
Engineering research division who also work on the engineering/life science interface and with who
they can share expertise and skills. The student will receive training in photolithography and will
fabricate devices in the JWNC gaining excellent training opportunities in electrical engineering
techniques which combined with the life science training will make them a valuable multi-disciplinary
While undertaking the biological aspects of their PhD studies in ICAMs the successful candidate will
develop their research skills in a world renowned research centre which is optimised for translational
research science. Moreover in April 2014 the institute was gained the prestigious BHF centre of
excellence award which included a state art microscopy suite which this project will no doubt further
benefit, ensuring the candidate has access to the very best equipment and facilities.
Lead Supervisor: Dr John MercerInstitute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences
Supervisor 2: Dr Steven NealeBiomedical Engineering
Anubhav Bussooa (LKAS PhD Candidate)
Light-powered protocells for bio-diagnostics - Ross Eaglesfield (LKAS PhD Candidate)
The aim of this project is to develop a minimal synthetic protocell that can report on inorganic and organic substances in water, soil or body fluids. Using a synthetic biology approach (synbio), the student will introduce a light-powered rhodopsin pump into the membranes of protocells made out of robust polymers (polymersomes) generated at high throughput on a microfluidic platform. The electrochemical potential created across the membrane will be used to energize proton-coupled uptake of the targeted substance (e.g. a heavy metal or a disease-related peptide) through a selective cotransport protein, and the resulting internal pH change will be monitored with a pH-sensitive dye. This multidisciplinary project will exploit cutting-edge technologies from photo-biochemistry and biological engineering for a synthetic biology approach to bio-diagnostics. Alongside the laboratory work, the student will critically assess the technology under the responsible innovation (RI) AREA (Anticipate, Reflect, Engage, Act) framework. In this way, the project will develop with an increased awareness of the potential merits of the different uses and any related social constraints.
Synthetic biology assembles biological parts into new processes such as metabolic or transport pathways. The toolbox is rapidly increasing and so are the applications, but there is still a wide gap between theory and practice. Even in a simple bacterial cell the regulatory network controlling substrate-product relationships is so complex that efforts to integrate new biological functions are often ‘lost in translation’. The success of synthetic biology in the long run will depend on radical simplification of chassis. As an alternative to the top-down approach, which aims to reduce existing biological systems, this project follows a bottom-up approach, adding biological parts to a minimal artificial chassis to achieve the desired biological function. The student will develop a generic solution which should open a window of opportunities for downstream applications in medicine, agriculture and water treatment.
The group of Prof. Amtmann (MVLS, MCSB) has already established an E.coli system to produce recombinant functional halorhodopsins and other ion transporters. In a first step, lipid patches containing the recombinant proteins, extracted from E.coli, will be integrated into polymersomes, manufactured using a microfluidic platform in the lab of Dr. Reboud (Biomedical Engineering). In the longer term, we will explore synthesizing all parts within a cell-free expression system inside the protocells. The student will tag the proteins with fluorescent LOV domains developed by Prof. Christie (MVLS, collaborating with Amtmann), and use a microfluidic fluorescence sorter to separate protocells that have integrated the proteins in the correct orientation. A range of parameters (e.g. concentrations, surfactants, flow rates) will be systematically optimised following a molecular evolution strategy pioneered by Prof. Cronin (School of Chemistry, collaborating with Reboud). Sensory function of different transport modules will be tested by measuring pH profiles of the protocells in response to treatment with range of substrates and concentrations. The functionality of the protocells will be benchmarked against in vivo systems (cyanobacteria, yeast) expressing the same synthetic transport modules. Potential applications and public acceptance issues will be explored through a combination of literature and web resources.
Training and supervision:
The project provides excellent interdisciplinary training opportunities. The student will receive training in molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry. They will learn how to use the microfluidic platform, and how to systematically optimise molecular devices. The student will also receive guidance on how to access and evaluate publicly available data on regulatory policies, market requirements and public and stakeholder opinion. In addition to shaping the trajectory of the technology, this will equip them with additional skills that are increasingly important in the workplace. In parallel to the project-specific training, the student will be able to pick relevant courses form the RTP of all three colleges. The student will be integrated into a vibrant laboratory shared by Prof. Amtmann and Prof. Blatt. Housed in the Bower Building the lab has state-of-the-art facilities for protein biochemistry, electrophysiology and confocal microscopy. The student will be part of a highly motivated cohort of post-docs and post-grads, many of them working on related topics (e.g. using halorhodopsin for biodesalination and carbon enrichment strategies, EPSRC and BBSRC funded grants). The group meets for weekly lab seminars and journal clubs providing opportunities for the student to present their results and critically discuss scientific papers. Dr. Reboud shares cutting-edge technological know-how and facilities with the group of Prof. Cooper in their superbly equipped laboratory in the Rankine Building. The student will collaborate with the RA/PG cohorts of the Reboud/Cooper group and of the Murphy group, and participate in relevant seminars in the Schools of Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences. The ‘Water @ Glasgow’ group will provide a particularly stimulating forum for interaction.
Amtmann lab: http://psrg.org.uk/meet-the-team/
Institute MCSB: http://www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/biology/
Water @ Glasgow: http://wateratglasgow.org/
Lead Supervisor: Professor Anna AmtmannMolecular Plant Physiology
Supervisor 2: Dr Julien Reboud
Supervisor 3: Professor Joseph Murphy
|Ross Eaglesfield (LKAS PhD Candidate)|
Topological perspectives for mining novel biological information from ‘omics data - Mel Chen (LKAS PhD Candidate)
The challenges posed by big data are the new reality across scientific disciplines. The shear volume of
new data being produced calls on researchers to completely reorient their approach to the most
important problems, from genomics to astronomy, from particle physics to economics. New analytical
tools are required in order to make progress, as well as a deliberate conceptual shift away from
discipline-specific formalism and conventions. For example, recent advances in high throughput DNA
sequencing technology have revolutionised our ability to quantifying how genes are expressed at
cellular, biological, and evolutionary scales. However, the tools for analysing the resultant big data
from such transcriptomics studies have not kept pace. From a biological perspective there are two
major shortcomings of the present toolkit: i) Differential gene expression is analysed in a gene-bygene
approach, which impoverishes statistical power and is biologically unrealistic because
expression is massively co-dependent; ii) Gene network approaches are implemented within the
context of model laboratory study species and therefore novel information available from non-model
systems (i.e. systems in nature) is not incorporated.
The current project aims to overcome these limitations by applying ideas from topology – a branch of
mathematics that is specifically adapted to treat qualitative properties such as connectivity. Indeed,
this is an area that promises to make impact in big data problems; topological data analysis is among
the latest fast-growing areas of research. This is a genuinely new area to apply a range of tools
developed within pure mathematics to a tractable and important problem in biology. Since the
expression of genes in an organism are co-dependent, co-varying and continuous, treating data from a
topological viewpoint can reveal new relationships by – perhaps paradoxically – deliberately ignoring
structure from conventional modes of traditional analysis.
This project will represent an innovative collaboration in two important ways: i) By making use of a
concrete problem from biology we will have a means of adapting and developing the most recent tools
from topological data analysis; and ii) by appealing to these tools we will seek to revolutionise our
understanding of gene expression and, by extension, the mechanics of organismal biology and
evolution. At the same time, the project is crucially and deliberately aligned with Britain's commitment
to being a world-leader in big data.
Topology is uniquely suited to tackling big data problems: This is a branch of mathematics that is
coordinate-free by design, and as a result it is not biased by existing structure. Gene expression, as a
transcriptome, is the bridge between the genome and the organismal phenotype. RNA-seq technology
is a major advance in elucidating the complexity of this bridge because it can be conducted at any
biological scale, is unbiased, and can be used in medical and veterinary or ecological and evolutionary
contexts. However, these advantages have not been exploited with the existing analytical toolkit, in
part due to the challenge of deriving signal from the vast amounts of data produced. The current
project will develop new analytical approaches to this problem using methods from topology.
For example, given a transcriptomic data set associated with replicate fish populations, one might like
to distinguish those members that occupy different physiologies, morphologies, and ecological niches.
In effect, the data set contains distinct disconnected components (i.e. transcriptome-wide differential
gene expression) that one would like to identify as relevant to the early stages of evolutionary
divergence. Here, the convergent evolution of fish into different niches is a rigorous experimental
design that increases the power of inference for ‘omics in environmental context. We will exploit
algebraic tools in topology designed to identify and characterise the connectivity of these components.
These will be refined in close and iterative consultation with the biological context as the intricacies are
expected to scale with the transcriptomic dimensionality.
This project is intensively interdisciplinary: The ideal candidate will have a strong background in
mathematics specifically and a diverse interest and some experience in the experimental and
biological sciences more generally. In addition, the desire to engage with existing techniques in
statistics and computer programming will be an asset.
The Scholar will be primarily based in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics positioned, in
particular, within the geometry and topology team as part of the Pure Mathematics Group so as to gain
specific training in algebraic topology. This is a dynamic research team, and the scholar will actively
participate in department seminars and liaise with relevant visiting scholars. Additional training will
come by way of the Scottish Mathematical Sciences Training Centre. Most appropriate streams will
likely be topology, algebra, and applied mathematics methods.
The Scholar will also be closely tied to the biological aspects of the project through Elmer and
IBAHCM. New data will be developed for this project and the Scholar will receive hands-on training in
associated molecular techniques (sample handling, RNA extraction and quality control, principles of
RNA-seq). All laboratory support, equipment, and expertise are available. Specific training in
bioinformatics analysis and skills augmentation will be made available locally through Glasgow
Polyomics and/or Edinburgh Genomics programmes and nationally through Wellcome Trust courses.
In addition to providing networking opportunities, such bioinformatics and computational biology
training will provide key skills for the Scholar and open a variety of future research and employment
The Scholar will receive training in essential skills such as results dissemination, public speaking and
scientific presentations (supported and mentored by both PIs) in addition to the great breadth of core
skills offered by the Graduate School.
The Scholar will be supported in a variety of avenues of professional development, networking, and
results dissemination. Regional opportunities for presentation and feedback exist through
‘NextGenBUGs (Scotland’s bioinformatics user group) that meets quarterly and of which Elmer is a
participant. Additionally, we request funding for one national (e.g. Population Genetics Group, British
topology meeting) and two EU/international conferences (e.g. Society for Molecular Biology and
Evolution, American Mathematical Society joint meetings) in the final two years.
While the overall project, as outlined, is quite ambitious in its approach to a vast multi-disciplinary
problem, we will have well-defined and meaningful initial goals. In the first instance, our aim will be to
guide the Scholar’s understanding of topological techniques for data analysis in the presence of the
current understanding in gene expression, with the aim of recovering known behaviour by new
(topological) means. This first step will ensure groundbreaking, important, publishable results. It will
provide an essential jumping-off point when approaching new data sets and/or problems, thus ensuring the long-term sustainability of the project.
Lead Supervisor: Dr Liam Watson
Supervisor 2:Dr Kathryn ElmerInstitute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Mel Chen (LKAS PhD Candidate)
Elucidating the long-term impact of disinfection strategies on the drinking water microbiome - Zihan Dai (LKAS PhD Candidate)
We are regularly exposed to microbial communities through our drinking water supply. These microbial communities undergo a mass migration from the drinking water treatment plant thorugh the water distribution system and into our built evironment (eg homes, schools, offices, hospitals). In fact every litre of safe drinking water may have up to tens of millions of diverse microbial cells. Over
the last few years, increasing number of studies have utilised state-of-the-art DNA sequencing to
identify the types of microorganisms that survive and even proliferate in our drinking water supplies.
These studies have shown that approaches towards water treatment and distribution have a strong
impact on microbial communities that customers are exposed to through routine drinking water use.
For example, maintaining a disinfectant residual in the drinking water distribution system is a common
strategy for minimizing biological regrowth in most of the world. In contrast, water utilities in some
countries control biological regrowth by limiting the availability of substrates for microbial growth and
thus do not maintain a disinfectant residual. Long-term implementation of these two distinct
approaches for controlling biological regrowth, undoubtedly have an impact on the types of
microorganisms that survive and proliferate in the water supply network.
The central goal of this project is to identify how different approaches to control biological regrowth
(disinfection vs no-disinfection) have influenced microbial community composition in drinking water
supplies. This project will involve a comparative analysis of microbial communities in drinking water
systems in disinfected and non-disinfected systems. This project will not only reveal the identity of
drinking water microbes, but also utilise metagenomic approaches to reveal their functional potential.
The outcomes of this project will provide a platform to debate the risks and benefits of one the central
approaches for the provision of safe drinking water: disinfection.
This project will generate a debate centred on the risks and benefits of water disinfection. A few
European countries have stopped water disinfection and in doing so eliminated risks associated with
carcinogenic disinfection by-products in water supplies. Yet, in most of the world, water disinfection is
considered a necessary evil. We hypothesize that the eliminating disinfection will not increase
pathogen risks in drinking water systems. In fact, our recent study suggests that long-term water
disinfection selects for microbes with antimicrobial resistance traits. We will test our hypothesis
through a comparative microbial analysis in disinfected and non-disinfected systems utilising state-ofthe-
art metagenomics methods. Water utilities in countries that disinfect (USA, UK) and those that
don’t (Netherlands, Belgium) have agreed to collaborate on this project.
Our goal is to encourage the scholar to shape multiple aspects of the project to ensure that they
complete an excellent PhD and emerge as an expert in antimicrobial resistance in drinking water
systems. The research team of AP, UI, and JW will set the initial problem for the scholar – the link
between water disinfection and antimicrobial resistance, and provide the appropriate expertise and
support to ensure that the Scholar excels in her/his PhD project.
S/he will be trained on diverse and cutting edge technologies in molecular microbiology, DNA
sequencing, bioinformatics tools and pipelines, data management. Further, the scholar will closely
collaborate with water companies in USA, UK, Netherlands, and Belgium on selection of specific
drinking water systems that are ideal for this study. As a result, the scholar will not only develop
unique expertise in laboratory based methods, but due to the extensive site selection phase of this
project (which will be in collaboration with water companies) will also develop broad expertise in
drinking water treatment technologies.
The scholar will be exposed to, and develop expertise in Responsible Innovation (RI), a skill set that is
increasingly vital to scholarship in the 21st century. We will provide a supportive environment in which
the scholar can develop skills in public and stakeholder engagement, science communication and
policy analysis. The researcher will benefit from the extensive networks that the School of
Interdisciplinary Studies has fostered with the Scottish government water industry team, research
intensive SMEs, water regulators and representatives of water consumers in Scotland. The scholar
will be embedded in these networks, enabling two central components of the EPSRC RI framework to
be explored, that of anticipation and reflection on the potential impacts of the research, enabling
better alignment with public and stakeholder values, leading to a sustainable impact on the water
Lead Supervisor: Dr Ameet PintoWater/Environmental Engineering
Supervisor 2: Dr John WallsInterdisciplinary Studies
Supervisor 3: Dr Umer IjazInfrastructure and Environment, Engineering
|Zihan Dai (LKAS PhD Candidate)|
Three dimensional printable flexible electronics - Fengyuan Liu (LKAS PhD Candidate)
Electronics in future will be printed on flexible/bendable substrates. With performance on a par with wafer-based electronics it will enable a wide range of new technologies including flexible displays, electronic skin and wearable sensor tapes etc. that are much needed in emerging fields such as Internet of Things, m-health, and Smart Cities. In this regard, there is also a considerable interest in the multilayer electronics as it offers efficient interconnection and processing of digital information. However, materials- and fabrication-related challenges present major obstacles in achieving truly 3D integrated circuits based on the conventional Si CMOS technology and the need for a new technology remains critical.
Synthetic nanomaterials such as inorganic semiconductor nanowires (NWs) that have been actively explored in recent years for nanoscale electronics offer an exciting opportunity for 3D electronics as they can be printed over diverse substrate to obtain high-performance and stable electronics at low cost. The bottom-up synthesis, high-mobility, and tailorable material properties make them extremely attractive. The capability of assembling high-performance NWs with diverse functional properties will enable novel circuit concepts such as 3D integrated electronics, with 3D structure arising from the sequential assembly of NWs into vertically stacked device layers. This project will investigate a new “bottom-up” and “top-down” hybrid methodology for printing such stacks from parallel arrays of NWs and develop from them multifunctional and multilayer circuits. This new approach will overcome processing limitations of conventional planar CMOS technology and thus will present a formidable method for the future high performance 3D flexible integrated circuits. The novel and yet simple contact printing methods will be extended to develop the new strategies for 3D printing of ultra-thin stack of electronic layers. The controlled and uniform assembly of stacks of NWs on planar and flexible substrates will be systematically investigated. At the confluence of electronics engineering, materials science and chemistry, this project provides an exciting multidisciplinary research and training opportunity in the burgeoning field of flexible and printable electronics.
3D integration, electronics over large areas, flexible electronics and printing of electronics by adopting some of the techniques used in print industries are the key components of the roadmap for electronics industry. This unique project will deeply investigate these multiple aspects through innovative methodology. We will address this by printing stack of high-mobility materials on diverse substrates – planar as well as flexible.
The methodology involves:
(a) Synthesizing NWs with controlled dimensions using CVD.
(b) Contact-printing of NWs from growth substrate to pre-patterned substrate. In general, NWs are grown with random orientation and are well-aligned by sheer forces during the printing process.
(c) Layer by layer printing of stack of ultra-thin electronic layers.
(d) Fabrication of the three-dimensional NW circuit by the iteration of the contact printing, device fabrication, and separation layer deposition steps N times.
We will explore printing of Si-NWs as well as heterostructures such as Ge/Si core/shell NWs as recent reports indicate that they result in highperformance electronic devices. Rational integration of NWs into functional circuits requires that they be assembled with controlled orientation and density at spatially defined locations on the device. A key scientific goal is to develop a better understanding of the fundamental relationships between synthesis and printing of nanoscale structures. In time, this will lead to innovation that can produce truly high-performance and costeffective 3D electronics – potentially aligned with mass production. The proposed methodology will
overcome the challenges related to current microelectronics technology such as compatibility of standard micro/nanofabrication tools with planar substrates only and the thermal budgetrelated issues.
The scholar’s contribution will be to: (a) synthesize controlled dimension NWs; (b) print stack of electronic layers from ensemble of NWs, and (c) develop 3D electronic/sensing components from the stack of electronic layers. The schedule of the tasks to be completed is given in Figure 2. This includes: (a) Synthesis of NWs, incorporating methods for controlling the dimensions and doping in the year one and two. Initially the NWs will be synthesized and printed on the planar substrate to acquire understanding of the print mechanism. This will be subsequently replaced with printing on the flexible substrate. The research focus will be to develop electronic layers that are effective from viewpoint of device development. In this regard, the heterostructure such as Ge/Si Core/Shell NWs are attractive as they are known to provide a “hole sea”, which results in good ohmic contact and hence improved device performance such structures will be explored in addition to Si-NWs, which results in electronic devices with schottky junctions. This will be followed by the printing of the stack of electronic layers from ordered NWs in second and third years. Realisation of 3D stacks of electronic layers by printing NWs at defined locations will be investigated in the third year. Electronic components (e.g. transistors, diodes) and solid-state sensors (e.g. temperature) will be developed from 3D electronic layers. Electrical performance of the layers will be evaluated from month 18 onwards. The scholar will get a complete training in modern inorganic (and organic/hybrid) materials synthesis to prepare and process nanomaterials. Characterization will involve techniques to determine essential structure-property relationships. These will include electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, X-ray diffraction, FTIR, Raman spectroscopy, printing, and surface functionalization. By working in this highly inter-disciplinary environment, the scholar will gain not only technical expertise but also a range of transferrable and communication skills. Furthermore, given the commercially attractive output of this research programme, the scholar will gain a first-hand understanding of the importance of timely IP protection and the complementary value of know-how in the context of knowledge transfer. Therefore, this project represents an excellent multidisciplinary doctoral training opportunity for an enthusiastic and talented student.
Lead Supervisor: Dr Ravinder DahiyaElectronic and Nanoscale Engineering
Supervisor 2: Professor Duncan Gregory
|Fengyuan Liu (LKAS PhD Candidate)|
Remote medical sensor technologies (RMST): a behaviourally informed health intervention - Oluwadamilola Agbato (LKAS PhD Candidate)
One maternal death every 5 minutes and about 1.72 million children dying in infancy annually are the consequences of inadequate availability of healthcare professionals. On the other hand, there are more than 6 billion mobile phones being used all over the world. Accounting for the 86% of the world’s population, this mobile telephone infrastructure offers an attractive avenue to ensure well-being of the masses and to prevent unnecessary deaths in the remote areas – in both developing and the developed world. The possibility of exploiting this massive infrastructure for healthcare and its potential impact has caught the attention of scientists as well as policy makers – leading to rapidly emerging field of mobile health (m-health) for primary care. While some of the health applications are currently under investigation, several others are yet to be explored. For example, wearable sensors (WS) are being investigated to measure vital parameters of pregnant mothers and infants at places where doctors are seldom available to identify and prevent in real time any health issues.
As m-health field grows, there is a need to evaluate the appropriateness, applicability, and economic viability or the impact of the technologies, in particular the WS technologies that are being used. To the best of our knowledge, the evaluation of m-health technologies for health has not been carried out so far. This project will for the first time evaluate some of the WS technologies prevalent in this field, especially in the context of developing countries such as India. The potential of the identified m-health technology will be evaluated for its social, cultural and economic feasibility using a randomized control trial (RCT) design methodology. Although these technologies will be evaluated in the context of rural India - where there is huge potential in terms of reducing maternal and child deaths, it has much wider applications in Africa and other remote parts of the world, including the islands and highlands of Scotland.
Methodologically, this project also represents a pioneering effort in using experimental intervention to induce
behavioural change, contributing to the better understanding of the adoption of WS medical technologies.
Although anecdotal reports on the use of these technologies exist, there is currently little systematic quantitative,
empirical information available. The key methodological challenge in evaluating the m-health facilities is that some
hospitals may purposively choose some villages and not others, or some households may choose to access
these facilities while others do not, leading to selection bias. Hence, credibly establishing causality of any
healthcare benefit is difficult, and use of randomised experimental design is indispensable. This project for the
first time will attempt to design health intervention that is behaviourally informed from the recent developments in
the psychology (economic) literature. Another innovative aspect of this project is the integration of the medical
humanities (an emerging field of enquiry) exploring the social and cultural dimensions of clinical practices and
healthcare policies in shaping the practice of medicine and experience of health.
Current research from the behavioural economics literature suggests that budgetary preoccupations impede
cognitive capacity available to guide the choice of preventive health care and hence, it is not implausible that
these technologies are less likely to be adopted. So, the RCT, apart from evaluating the social, cultural and
economic feasibility of the WS technology, will examine to design simple interventions towards reducing the
cognitive taxes that impede technology adoption– for instance, planning prompts, sending reminders, carefully
timed health educational intervention, etc.
The scholar under the guidance of the supervisors will design the RCT, select the samples randomly, and travel to rural India, organise the field surveys, meet local partners, policy makers and medical professions to understand the local beliefs and social structures. He will examine the current usage of medical technologies, identify constrains if any, and develop, organise and implement experiments and surveys. After the initial field work, the scholar will spend some time with the sensor technologist group in Glasgow, providing feedback and understanding different available technologies appropriate for m-health and suitable to the Indian context. These activities by the scholar within the project promotes capacity building, provides developing country experience, training and exposure to innovative research methodologies and hands on experience with cutting edge research. It will prepare the PhD student for an international career by generating new knowledge and building the intellectual capacities and research skills that allow them to make outstanding contributions to future economic and social development. The project is by nature interdisciplinary and the student will receive a unique combination of training in a wide range of approaches, including behavioral economics, econometric and statistical analyses, technology and innovation for development, and science and technology policy.
Lead Supervisor: Dr Arjunan Subramanian
Supervisor 2: Dr Ravinder DahiyaElectronic and Nanoscale Engineering
Supervisor 3: Dr Megan Coyer
|Oluwadamilola Agbato (LKAS PhD Candidate)|
“Melancholy and low spirits are half my disease”: Physical and Mental Health in the Life and Works of Robert Burns - Moira Hansen (LKAS PhD Candidate)
This innovative project brings together experts in Literature and Psychiatry to address a fundamental
question about the career of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. Burns achieved considerable
national and international success during his lifetime (1759–1796) continuing to the present. Although he
died aged only 37, his output was prodigious and highly acclaimed. There has always been considerable
historical interest in Burns’s physical health and how this may have impacted on his life and work
(exemplified by the unresolved debate about how he died) but detailed studies of his mental health have
not yet been carried out. Burns had a complicated and tempestuous personal history, with bouts of
melancholic depression and instability in relationships, including a series of extramarital affairs. It is
possible that his life history and literary outputs may have been influenced, at least to some degree, by a
severe disorder of mood such as bipolar disorder (known previously as manic depression) and, although
some commentators have suggested this as a possibility, there has to date been no systematic
assessment of this area. This is an important question in terms of gaining a full understanding of Burns’
The proposed PhD project will examine the extensive but unsystematic body of writing about Burns’s
health, trace biographical moments of health-related stress alongside creative output and examine
something of the mental health of the Burns family tree. It will also look at concepts of mental and
physical health in the late eighteenth century, while engaging with modern theories linking psychiatric
disorder and creativity. The scholarship will benefit from the extensive resources within the University of
Glasgow’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies (co-directed by Prof Carruthers), as well as supervision input
from a leading expert on the diagnosis and causes of bipolar disorder (Prof Smith).
Lead Supervisor: Professor Gerard Carruthers
Supervisor 2: Professor Daniel SmithPsychiatry
|Moira Hansen (LKAS PhD Candidate)|
Building (de)fences – empowering farmers to take action on disease control - Frederieke Peto (LKAS PhD Candidate)
The problem: Endemic diseases of livestock cost the UK agricultural industry an estimated £600m a year. These diseases are transmitted between farms either: a) via purchased livestock, b) directly between animals at field boundaries/shared pastures, or c) indirectly via watercourses, wildlife reservoirs or fomites (e.g. vehicles). Control strategies rely on monitoring by diagnostic tests and vaccination, as well as effective “biosecurity”. Biosecurity, highlighted following the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak, includes minimising animal purchasing and providing adequate barriers at farm boundaries. However, these measures are not being implemented. Reasons may include lack of awareness of the extent of current disease transmission, lack of faith in the cost-effectiveness of measures, lack of time to implement measures, and sub-optimal communication by advisors.
Aim and objectives: Our aim is to develop a farmer-led control strategy. There are three main objectives: a) to investigate the barriers and facilitators to adoption of control strategies by farmers; b) develop an evidence base on current transmissions that can be presented to the industry; c) to co-develop, with farmers and other industry stakeholders, a farmer-led strategy for further trial.
Methods: The methods bring together social science theory on implementation of new technologies and the development of complex interventions with expertise in molecular epidemiology of pathogens. Three main methods will be applied: a) qualitative interviews, analysed using Normalisation Process Theory, will allow investigation of existing barriers and facilitators to implementation of biosecurity measures; b) analysis of existing evidence of association between prevalence or diversity of endemic pathogens and disease control behaviours on farms, which will inform the design of a prospective field study, targeting pathogens that share transmission routes; c) using data from a) and b) to work with groups of farmers and other stakeholders to co-develop farmer-led control strategies for multiple pathogens that share transmission routes.
Lead Supervisor: Professor Sally Wyke
Supervisor 2: Dr Lisa BodenLarge Animal Clinical Sciences and Public Health
Supervisor 3: Dr Emily Hotchkiss
Supervisor 4: Professor Catherine O'DonnellGeneral Practice and Primary Care
Frederieke Peto (LKAS PhD Candidate)