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PhD Studentship in Molecular Microbial Biotechnology

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £15,009
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th April 2019
Closes: 30th June 2019
Reference: NES019

Number of awards: 1

Start date and duration: September 2019 for 4 years.

Application closing date: 30 June 2019.


There is an urgent need to replace plastics with materials that are organic and biodegradable. Nature is a source of inspiration for such materials, as many of the properties that make plastic such a useful product can be found in proteins. The use of specialised proteins with biodegradable or recyclable materials such as paper or metals may provide new functional materials that reduce the need for plastics.

This PhD project will focus on the development of a lean biomanufacturing system for the production of surface-binding proteins, leading to new functional materials e.g. biological waterproofing. This studentship will provide skills and experience in the areas of molecular biology, synthetic biology, enzymology, statistical design, protein expression and recombinant protein manufacture. In particular we wish to apply the modular toolkit for generating P. pastoris protein secretion libraries
(doi: 10.1021/acssynbio.6b00337), in combination with design of experiments approaches
(doi: 10.1016/j.drudis.2015.09.015) to rapidly identify protein/surface combinations that produce the desired novel materials.

The studentship is in partnership with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and there will be an opportunity to spend up to three months working on site with CPI in Redcar.


BBSRC via the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) CTP.

Name of supervisor(s)

Primary Supervisor: Dr Jem Stach, Natural and Environmental Sciences
Second Supervisor: Dr Jon Marles-Wright, Natural and Environmental Sciences
Primary Industrial Partner: CPI, Redcar

Eligibility Criteria

You must have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree or international equivalent, in biological sciences or a related subject.

The award is available to UK/EU applicants only. Depending on how you meet the BBSRC’s eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to a full or a partial award.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.
You will need to:

  • insert the programme code 8020F in the programme of study section
  • select PhD Biology (full time) - Biological Sciences as the programme of study
  • insert the studentship code NES019 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code NES019 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

You should also send your covering letter and CV to Dr Jem Stach by email to

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