Novel multimode optical sensors for detection of trace compounds in the environment studentship

An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Environment and Technology, UWE Bristol.  The studentship will be co-funded by UWE Bristol and Chelsea Technologies (subject to contract).

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 April 2017.

The closing date for applications is Monday 30 January. 

About the Studentship

The ability to detect with high specificity and at high sensitivity (parts per billion level) toxic compounds in the environment is an exciting research topic which addresses a number of high-impact challenges. One example is the detection of toxic chemicals accumulating in bathing waters as a result of developing algal blooms. Detection of such compounds can give early warning to allow preventative measures to be implemented.

Commercially available detection systems are expensive (~£30k) and bulky. UWE Bristol is developing novel miniaturised inexpensive sensor technologies to address these detection challenges. Currently, these operate as single sensors within a specific instrument. The ability to network these and other sensors would allow the sensors to be deployed, eg in water catchment areas, for applications requiring remote environmental monitoring.

Thus the sensors are required to be sensitive, operate remotely, be low powered and be part of a larger network. The project will focus on:

(i) the use of signal processing to improve the specificity of the sensors, eg via the frequency dependence of the sensor response

(ii) methods to reduce the power required for sensor operation and

(iii) novel methods of instrument integration that could combine a range of sensor systems for measuring toxic compounds and environmental pollutants in air samples. 

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Professor Janice Kiely:

Funding details

The studentship is available from 1 April 2017 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress, and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £14,296 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates in each year of study.

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must have a good honours degree (2.1 or equivalent) in subjects such as electronic engineering, computer science, physics or sensor science.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply


Please submit your completed application to by Monday 30 January.

If it is not possible to submit your application via email, you may post your application to the following address:

UWE Graduate School
Room 3E37
University of the West of England
Coldharbour Lane
Frenchay, Bristol
BS16 1QY

Please be aware your application needs to arrive by the deadline date so please allow extra days for posting.

Application forms

Please complete and return the following forms:

Each of your referees must complete and return the following reference form to you as part of your application:

Please consult the application Guidance notes when completing the above forms.

Please note: When submitting 'supporting documents' electronically, please ensure that all scanned documents are saved in black and white so that the size of the document is kept to a minimum.

Further information

Interviews will take place on Tuesday 21 February 2017. If you have not heard from us by that date, we thank you for your application, but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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