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Funded PhD Opportunity

An Investigation of The Bacteriostatic and Bacteriocidal Modes of Action of Biosurfactants on Various Bacteria.

Subject: Biomedical Sciences


Summary

Microbial biosurfactants have been investigated extensively in the last few years as alternatives to chemical surfactants in a wide range of commercial products including personal care products, such as toothpaste, shampoos, skin cleansers and detergent products. These biosurfactants as well as possessing surface activity have been shown to have other bioactivity including anti-cancer properties and importantly antibacterial activity against a range of bacterial species.

These effects include growth inhibition (bacteriostatic) and killing (bacteriocidal) activities against various bacteria. There has been little investigation of the mode of action of microbial biosurfactants against other organisms with the assumption being made that the effects are produced by direct interaction of the surfactants with the cell membrane. In this project the aim will be to elucidate the mechanism(s) of action of several microbial low molecular weight biosurfactants on a range of different bacterial species, both Gram negative and Gram positive.

The objectives of the project will be:

1.To define how the bacteriostatic and bacteriocidal properties of biosurfactants are expressed against different types of bacteria.

2.To investigate whether the effects are due to a direct interaction with the cell membrane leading to cell damage and leakage of materials from the cell.

3.To determine whether susceptible bacterial species are affected uniformly throughout their growth cycle or whether the stage of growth determines the extent of the effect.

4.To examine, through the use of molecular biology techniques, whether the biosurfactants have any direct effect on the metabolism of the cells through changes in gene expression.

The investigative methods to be used in this study will involve the use of standard microbial culture methods, to demonstrate growth and killing effects. These methods will be supplemented with specific staining methods and various analytical methods to determine the damage caused to the cells.

Direct microscopic observation will also play an important role. The effect of the surfactants on the metabolism of the cells will be examined through the use of qRT PCR to quantify the expression of key regulated metabolic genes which will give us indications into key metabolic functions impairments or inhibitions.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

My experience has been great and the people that I have worked with have been amazing

Kieran O'Donnell - 3D printing of biological cells for tissue engineering applications

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Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University.I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.

William Crowe


Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
Weeks commencing 11, 18, 25 March 2019


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Coleraine campus

Coleraine campus
The feeling of community at our Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience.


Contact supervisor

Professor Ibrahim Banat


Other supervisors

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