PhD Studentship: Long-range bumble-bee and Asian Hornet telemetry through metal nanoparticle coating and harmonic radar detection

Bangor University - Schools of Electronic Engineering, and Environment, Natural Resources & Geography

Applications are invited for a three-year research PhD studentship in nanotechnology/ microwave engineering at the Schools of Electronic Engineering, and Environment, Natural Resources & Geography, Bangor University, UK. The studentship is funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships ( in collaboration with a commercial partner. It will cover tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the standard RCUK rate (~£14,000 per year), along with microelectronics training and conference attendance. The studentship is available from the 1st December 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Applicants should hold a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in electronics/microwave engineering, or a related degree. UK or EU citizenship are required. Please submit a CV (max 2 pages) together with a covering letter to Dr Cristiano Palego/Dr. Paul Cross at by the 15th November 2016.

Project outline:

This project will develop a metal nanoparticle layered coating of bumble bees’ bodies for monitoring of flight behaviour within an unprecedented radar detection range. The nanoparticles will be delivered in particle dust baths and functionalized for self-adhesion to bumble bees’ body through interaction with the bees’ body surface and hairs. This will increase the scattering of incident radiofrequency signals from the insects’ body without affecting their vitality and flight capacity. A self-flying interrogating antenna consisting of a commercial drone equipped with integrated scanning and flight control systems will be also be developed for autotracking of the moving insects within a suitable range. Ultimately, the proposed nanoparticle tracking technology will eliminate the need for attachment of bulky transmitting units and for insect immobilization or anaesthesia while overcoming the tracking range limitation in conventional telemetry approaches. This studentship’s objectives are therefore to:

  • Complete an ethical appraisal and literature review of nanoparticle based radio-telemetry while developing stationary interrogating antennae.
  • Undertake initial lab-environment experimentation to evaluate the scalar efficiencies of the tracking devices.
  • Determine whether the devices ensure single bee resolution and simultaneous tracking of multiple bees while building the scanning and feedback capacity of the self-tracking system.
  • Monitor and evaluate the foraging behaviour of multiple bumble bees simultaneously

 The project will build on relevant existing and forthcoming projects on unobtrusive insect telemetry and autonomous sensor networks. We have state-of-the art facilities for field-based training and experiments (e.g. apiaries, habitat mapping data and measurement resources). Additionally, we sponsor research exchanges with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) in concurrent and related programmes.

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.


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