ERC Funded Doctoral Studentship: Relating Oral Tribology to Sensory Perception

University of Leeds - School of Food Science and Nutrition

Value: This doctoral studentship is fully funded by ERC (European Research Council) Starting Grant and covers the full cost of UK tuition fees, an annual stipend of £14,553, and research/travel costs for 3.5 years. This studentship is open to UK or EU students only. The project will start on 1 September 2018 or earlier and it will run for 3.5 years.


Contact Dr Anwesha Sarkar to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

The project focuses on understanding the true sensory consequence of oral tribology. Although food resides for a relatively short period of time in the mouth, it is subjected to complex oral processing conditions, such as exposure to body temperature, dilution with saliva, interactions with oral contacting surfaces, such as teeth–teeth, tongue–teeth, and tongue–oral palate. It is now hypothesized that these interactions of food with oral surfaces (e.g. frictional forces) may influence the sensory perception of food, such as creaminess, astringency, slipperiness.

However, very little is known about the true relationship between these oral friction parameters that can be measured instrumentally and sensorial perception. Hence, this PhD research aims to identify the quantitative relationships between lubrication/friction and the resulting sensory perception (hedonics/quantitative descriptive attributes) using a unique combination of instrumental methodologies and human trials.

By promoting our understanding of the interaction of food with oral surfaces and its sensorial consequence this can help us to design new products with new sensorial and/or textural attributes, such as low fat food without compromising mouthfeel. In this project you will develop a range of soft model foods (e.g. gels) of different microstructure using various biopolymers and investigate their tribological and sensory properties. You will use a variety of techniques, such as small and large deformation rheology, soft tribology, electron microscopy, colloidal techniques, as well as sensory trials and statistics. 

Entry requirements

You will be self-motivated, able to work in lab-based research as well as statistics, and actively collaborate with experts in the School of Psychology. You will have a 1st class honours degree in food science, biomaterial science, chemistry, engineering, or a related subject. You will have a curious and a rigorous approach to research and will be motivated to work in this new area of science together with a strong intellect, good communication skills (oral and written), and disciplined work habits. Experience in doing quantitative sensory trials and statistical analysis would be highly advantageous but not essential. The deadline for applications is 16th April 2018 with interviews to be held in May 2018 and applications should be made via the University of Leeds online application form.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information second that the PhD you wish to be considered for is 'ERC funded Doctoral Studentship: Relating Oral Tribology to Sensory Perception' as well as Dr Anwesha Sarkar as your proposed supervisor.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University's minimum English Language requirements.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

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