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PhD Studentship: Talking algae: an early warning system for water quality threats

University of Bath - Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bath
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 Annual stipend + tuition fees + training support grant
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 10th October 2018
Closes: 17th December 2018

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Freshwater Biosciences and Sustainability (GW4 FRESH CDT) which is offering 12 studentships for entry in September/October 2019.

Lead supervisor: Dr Paulo Rocha, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Bath, email

Co-supervisors: Dr Rupert Perkins (Cardiff University), Dr Lee Bryant (University of Bath), Tara Froggatt (Welsh Water)

Algae communicate! Recent findings show that under light and nutrient stress, algae’s exhibit pulsating signals. Using extracellular electrodes, we can monitor this electrical-pulsating communication. This is potentially a major breakthrough for managing algal blooms and novel sensing technologies to predict the development of an extensive range of stress-induced alterations in the aquatic ecosystem. To develop a technology able to sense and predict the development of algae blooms this project will address the following objectives:   

  • Devise sensors for microalgae monitoring
  • Characterise the electrical signals from different types of algae
  • Relate cell signalling with cell health and productivity.

The PhD student will receive advanced training towards becoming a world leader in electrical characterisation of sensors, electrophysiology and in biology-related subjects such as microalgae maintenance and growth. Additionally, the PhD student will gain valuable experience in leadership, organisation, and dissemination through courses at the University of Bath in research management, public engagement and scientific communication. As the project has a primary aim of developing an early warning system for algal bloom formation, liaison with the Water Industry (e.g. Welsh Water, Bristol Water and Wessex Water) will maximise project impact and student training opportunities.  


Studentships cover Home tuition fees, training support grant and stipend (£14,777 p/a, 2018/19 rate) for a period of 3.5 years and are open to UK/EU applicants who have been resident in the UK since September 2016.


Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an area appropriate to the skills requirements of the project.

Applications should be made direct to the CDT using their online application form.  See

You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage.

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