Sticky biomolecules - from sediments to astrobiology




3 years

Application deadline:

Friday 20 March 2020

About this project

Adhesion of biological material to igneous rocks and silicates is still a poorly understood phenomenon at a molecular level. Yet such information is crucial in many domains where biological material comes into contact with rocky formations. This is the case for biofilms growing on clay sediments in river banks, for chemically accurate models of comets, but also for the formation of building blocks of life on other planets.

This project will use supercomputers to investigate the adhesion of simple amino acids to clay and silicate surfaces at a molecular level. The information obtained will then be used to assess the influence of those biomolecules on sediment cohesion and help to formulate improved models of biologically stabilised sediments in rivers, both on earth and for parallel observations made on martian terrain.

Further links with astrobiology and origins of life will be established by applying the findings to processes occurring at hydrothermal vents (on earth and on Jovian moons). The latter part will also be supported by laboratory models of vents formation and existing ocean-based observations to focus on determining parameters that define biofilm binding as a function of environmental variables (pH, gas/ions concentrations, for example).

The University's Postgraduate Training Scheme (PGTS) provides a range of generic and discipline-specific modules to support research students through their programme.

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The library has an exclusive lounge for postgraduate research students and a dedicated Skills Team to provide a wide range of study and research skills help. 

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The Doctoral College provides support to postgraduate research students. Offering skills development opportunities and dedicated facilities, the college is here to help you achieve your potential. 

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Research at Hull tackles big challenges and makes an impact on lives globally, every day. Our current research portfolio spans everything from health to habitats, food to flooding and supply chain the slavery.

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This PhD is part of an EU-funded ERC project (GEOSTICK) and Full-time UK/EU and International PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£15,009 in 2019/20) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a Masters level qualification in chemistry, physics, biology, geosciences or a related field and a keen interest for working on an inter-disciplinary project.

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