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PhD Studentship: Mathematical modelling of phagocytosis

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009 per year
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 26th March 2019
Closes: 30th April 2019
Reference: 3497


Dr David Richards, Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter

Location: Living Systems Institute, University of Exeter

This project will use mathematical and computational modelling to help understand phagocytosis, the process by which immune cells seek, engulf and destroy foreign particles such as invading bacteria. This fascinating subject is still not well understood and has numerous applications to important medical conditions and the design of new types of drugs.

You will join the multidisciplinary group of Dr David Richards, which specialises in studying the fundamental processes involved in phagocytosis by using a combined experimental-modelling approach. See the group website ( for more information.
You will carry out an exciting project to develop (i) mathematical and computational models of phagocytosis and (ii) automated image analysis of time-lapse movies of phagocytic engulfment. Research questions will include how the shape and orientation of the target affect phagocytosis, which factors determine the shape of the phagocytic cup, and the role played by actin during uptake.

Applicants should have relevant quantitative expertise, and as such this project is likely to be best suited to students from mathematics, physics, chemistry, computing, biophysics or natural sciences. Experience of programming in at least one language (such as MATLAB, Python or C++) would be advantageous.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend. For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees, the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,009 per year tax-free stipend. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5  in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project. Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

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