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PhD Studentship: Opportunity in Development of a Novel Processing Control Strategy for Bacterial Biofilm Monitoring in the Food Industry

University of Surrey

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Guildford
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 21st October 2019
Closes: 28th November 2019

Studentship description 

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is a phenomenon through which bacteria become resistant to standard decontamination methods, e.g. antibiotics, classical sterilisation. Survival of bacteria because of AMR is a significant concern for global health and in the case of food related pathogens it pauses a great risk on food safety. It is worth mentioning that based on O’Neil’s report on AMR (2014), more people will be dying by 2050 from bacterial infections than by cancer. In many cases, food related bacteria form the so-called ‘biofilms’ which are organised layers-clusters that are reported to be even more resistant. It should be stated that the ways bacteria interact within the context of a biofilm are not understood to date.

At the same time, most studies in food systems are food specific and case specific with batch-batch variations leaving us with several questions on the relation between biofilm formation/resistance and the physicochemical and structural characteristics of a food surface. Furthermore, nowadays consumers demand minimally processes food products which have high nutritional content and better sensory characteristics. However, the mechanisms of action of novel minimal processing on the bacterial biofilm formation, inactivation and/or resistance as affected by food microstructure are hugely unknown and this is a great challenge for the adoption of novel processing by industry.

Therefore, the aim of this project is to address the above challenge via (i) the study of bacterial biofilm formation as affected by food micro-structural and physicochemical properties on advanced food models and on hard food processing surfaces (ii) the validation of a newly developed minimal processing technology by R-processing Ltd (cold pasteurisation) on inactivating (‘killing’) the formed biofilms on food models and industrial surfaces.

This project will be carried out at the University of Surrey, and will be supervised by Dr Eirini Velliou (Department of Chemical Engineering-FEPS) and Dr Jorge Gutierrez-Merino (Department of Nutritional Sciences-FHMS). There is also an industrial collaborator involved, i.e., R-processing Ltd.

This project is an exciting multidisciplinary work and collaboration that will generate insightful data that (i) will enable a better understanding of the development of resistance of bacteria in food systems (ii) will help R-processing Ltd deliver their very novel technology faster from bench to industrial practice. 

Entry requirements 

Applicants will need an upper second or first in a relevant degree. IELTS: Total score 6.5 with no lower than 6 in any component.


The PhD scholarship is based on RCUK rates and covers stipend, fees as well as funding for consumables. 

How to apply 

To apply, please send your CV and cover letter to Dr Eirini Velliou ( and apply through the programme page:

Please state the project title and supervisor clearly in all applications-preferably as part of the project title. Interviews will be held on 02/12/2019, 03/12/2019, 05/12/2019 and 06/12/2019. The starting date for the post is January 2020. 

Application enquiries 

Dr Eirini Velliou, 01483 68 6577

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