EPSRC DTP PhD studentship: Making Low-Cost, High-Fidelity Devices for the Distributed Antibiotic-Resistance Phenotyping of Bacterial Pathogens

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Main supervisor: Prof Robert Beardmore (University of Exeter)
Co-supervisor:  Prof Ivana Gudelj (University of Exeter)
Co-supervisor:  Dr Carlos Reding (University of Exeter)
Co-supervisor:  Lisa Butt (Blueprint Robotics) 

Electromechanical devices that are marketed by biotechnology companies to assess bacterial phenotypes, ranging from basic growth rates to more exotic antibiotic resistance and gene expression patterns, are expensive to purchase. Retailing between £5k and £20k puts them beyond the reach of hospitals in poor countries and UK schools where they could be used to both precisely quantify antibiotic resistance and to teach important scientific techniques. The purpose of this PhD is to work alongside a robotics startup, Blueprint Robotics (blueprintrobotics.co.uk) and the Exeter research group to develop devices that have equivalent and, in prototyping stages, often superior measurement capabilities to machines available on the open market and at a fraction of the cost of such commercial devices. We keep costs down, but functionality high, by building upon the Raspberry Pi (and Pi Zero) that provides a high-specification control unit to perform a range of core functions. These range from controlling bespoke modules, such as robotic sub-units, to executing computational algorithms on newly gathered datasets to emailing the results in text and graphical form directly to the laptop of the experimentalist. Devices on the open market do not do this and yet our goal is to make devices from parts that, in total, cost below £100.

To be effective in a project like this requires skills from multiple disciplines which is reflected in the assembled team that includes biologists, mathematicians and robotics experts who collaborate extensively with hospitals, schools, industry and a city council in the north of England. We are seeking a quantitative scientist with interests in one of electronics / mechatronics, biohacking, software development for healthcare or educational technologies, algorithms for data analysis (in Python, C, Matlab, Java or similar) who can contribute to some aspect of the design, prototyping and implementation of new devices. The new devices we produce will be used in scientific research projects where they will be deployed to measure rates of antibiotic resistance evolution in laboratory studies, the outcomes of which will be published in leading scientific journals. The devices will also be used in schools and hospitals, provided the protocols needed to run our devices can be simplified for novice users. In addition to developing new scientific knowledge, this is also a key goal of the PhD. The successful candidate is likely to have a degree in engineering, mathematics, chemistry, or computer science.

3.5 year studentship: The majority of the studentships are available for applicants who are ordinarily resident in the UK and are classed as UK/EU for tuition fee purposes.  If you have not resided in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship, you are not eligible for a maintenance allowance so you would need an alternative source of funding for living costs. To be eligible for fees only funding you must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU.

Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

Share this PhD
  Share by Email   Print this job   More sharing options
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Advert information

Type / Role:



South West England