Loughborough Doctoral College

Centres and partnerships

EPSRC DTP header image

EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme

An important and strategic contribution to the investment in doctoral training for Loughborough University’s is the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). In 2015 a £3.8M investment was allocated to Loughborough University, and a further round of investment is imminent.

The DTP funding covers studentships including with industrial and university partners, vacation bursaries and Doctoral Prize Fellowships. The research undertaken spans seven of our academic schools. For students recruited from 2015, an enhanced programme and training provision is provided. This includes a 42-month programme length, individual Research Training Support Grants, cohort activities, and for students working in Energy-related areas, access to the ERA Doctoral Training Partnership. Many of the studentship projects undertaken include an industry partner or sponsor, this provides invaluable experience to the doctoral student, and industry have the opportunity to benefit from dedicated resource addressing a research question that they have co-developed, and through this partnership they can gain to University expertise and benefit from the facilities available to the research student.

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD at Loughborough, including EPSRC funded research, why not check out our list of funded PhD Studentships.

 

Sports and Exercise Beacon

The Aerodynamics of Footballs

Student: Matthew Ward

SchoolSchool of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Martin Passmore

Project abstract:

I am researching how and why surface features (such as seams and texturing) affect the flight of association footballs.  Football is the most played sport in the world and it is important that the equipment is up to standard.  The controversial 2010 World Cup “jabulani” ball showed what can happen if the ball is perceived to be sub-standard.  Several individual balls have been analysed, but the underlying physics of why they behave as they do have not; which is where my research comes in.  Rapid prototype balls with simple seam geometries will be placed in a wind tunnel and analysed to understand the effects various features have on the flow field and subsequent ball flight.  This will then be built up to be able to analyse real balls to identify which features cause specific behaviour.  The research will then fit into ball design stages to have an early idea of how it is going to perform.

High Value Manufacturing Beacon

Development of a multiplex assay

Student: Rhushabh Maugi

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr.Mark Platt

Project abstract:

A multiplexed assay is to be developed using nanoparticles and a modern analytical technique, resistive pulse sensing (RPS) which is based on the principles of the Coulter counter used in the 1940s. RPS allows for particle by particle analysis of nanoparticles and will be used in determining the concentration, charge and size of nanoparticles. The nanoparticles are modified with aptamers, artificial antibodies that are used to target proteins which can be used for disease detection. The more proteins that can be detected by the assay the more confident a clinician can be when diagnosing a disease state, the project will develop an assay for multiple targets across multiple omics. 

Phase space methods for engineering quantum and quantum inspired technologies

Student: Russell Rundle

SchoolWolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Vincent Dwyer

Project abstract:

Quantum technologies utilise certain properties of quantum mechanics in order to improve what we can achieve using classical mechanics. These quantum properties are notoriously difficult to fully understand, gaining understanding through phase space is a great method to look into the quantum world, whether that be the position or of the spin properties of a particle.

The phase space representation is another way of looking at a system, equivalent to looking at a state vector (wave function) or density matrix. Direct measurement of phase space can allow for understanding certain properties of entanglement and superposition more efficiently than the density matrix method and can be used for verifying the quantumness of a system.

My research takes advantage of these ideas to formulate ways to verify and calibrate quantum systems and to also transfer the techniques used for quantum mechanics to more traditional systems, such as networks and algorithms.

Development of materials, layers and interfaces for viable, flexible, high performance supercapacitors

Student: Ryan Middlemiss

School: Design School / Chemistry

Supervisor: Darren Southee

Project abstract:

I’m currently a PhD researcher working between the Energy Research Laboratory and Design School of Loughborough University following a Masters degree in chemistry.

My current research is aimed at exploring the potential of printable electronics for energy storage and other solutions. The focus is to look at how conducting inks can be functionalised further to suit their prospective applications and in doing so make them desirable over traditional electronics. Flexible, long-life, printable supercapacitors that can be stacked in order to achieve the desired voltage requirements have potential to displace traditional energy storage in various applications and could provide further benefits in cost, safety, environmental impact, and disposal.

Circuit Modelling of Metamaterials for Microwave Applications

Student: Tom Whittaker

SchoolWolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Yiannis Vardaxoglou

Project abstract:

With the exciting advent of 3D printing, this revolutionary new manufacturing technique allows for low cost, low waste and a highly customizable form of manufacturing. The research project aims to take advantage of 3D printing by exploring true 3D metamaterial structures for microwave circuits and systems. Theoretical/analytical modelling, computer simulations and experimental measurement will be used to investigate meta-atom based metamaterials, and derive their equivalent metamaterial circuit models for quick design and analysis of their properties. Metamaterials have the potential to revolutionise the way microwave communication systems are designed by allowing the designer to tailor bespoke materials with desired properties.

Parametric Modelling of Mechanical Performance of Nonwovens for Design and Manufacturing

Student: Vincenzo Cucumazzo

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Dr E. Demirci, Prof V. Silberschmidt, Prof M. Acar 

Project abstract:

Nonwovens materials are unique complex polymer-based materials that cover a wide spectrum of applications (e.g. hygiene, construction, medical). The main aim of the work is to develop a parametric numerical relation between a nonwoven and properties of its fibres (mono or bi-component) and manufacturing parameters, and simulate its deformation and failure performance, such as effects of bond area/pattern on the overall performance and softness, effects of pleating on strength and flexibility, effects of rewinding rolls during slitting/re-slitting regarding applied tension, prediction of load bearing capacity, out-of-plane loading and ballistic applications, etc. Numerical results will be validated against experimental data.

Improving Optical Coherance Tomography (OCT) for Manufacturing Process Monitoring & Control in Real Time

Student: Tom Hovell

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Peter Kinnell, Jon Petzing & Laura Justham

Project abstract:

In-situ control and in-line monitoring of manufacturing processes are complex and difficult to implement. For example, manufacturing processes are often fast paced, meaning any real-time monitoring system must be flexible and able to analyse data quickly enough to implement decisions. In addition, manufacturing environments are non-ideal with varying external factors affecting the state of the system with time. 

My PhD aims to develop optical imaging modalities for application to in-line monitoring of high value manufacturing processes, extending standoff distance and, as such, the working range, whilst keeping cost minimisation as a primary objective. It is expected that as well as opto-mechanical design, there will be a need to develop a data collection and rapid analysis methodology to allow fast continuous scanning methods to be possible for extended operation.

Supramolecular Interactions on Nanocrystals (eg Cellulose) to Improve Mechanical Properties of Polymers

Student: Thomas Baker

School: School of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Helen Willcock

Project abstract:

Cellulose is a naturally occurring and abundant polysaccharide with a huge hydrogen bonding and functionalisation potential.  The raw source is important  with respect to the structure, crystallinity, morphology and aspect ratio of the end cellulose.

Extraction will occur from cocoa pod husk prior to characterisation, analysis and eventual functionalisation and incorporation into polymer matrices. The polymer matrices will endeavour to be sustainable in their production and biodegradable post-use, such as polylactic acid. 

Functionalisation will be key to ensuring compatibility within polymer systems, as cellulose is inherently hydrophilic.  The interactions between polymer-cellulose will be studied in an effort to improve and tailor the functionalisation and enhancements imparted with respect to mechanical and other properties.

Parametric Modelling of Mechanical Performance of Nonwovens for Design and Manufacturing

Student: Vincenzo Cucumazzo

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Dr Emrah Demirci

Project abstract:

Nonwovens are complex polymer-based materials that cover a wide spectrum of applications (e.g. hygiene, construction and medical). The main aim of the project is to develop a parametric industrial numerical model to simulate time-dependent, anisotropic, elastic-plastic and damage material properties of nonwovens based on their manufacturing parameters (bond area/pattern, basis weight, ODF, etc.) and fibre properties. The research project is carried out under the collaborative fellowship agreement between The Nonwovens Institute of NC State University and Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering at Loughborough University. Some of specific targets are as follows:

  • Integrate continuous and discontinuous modelling approaches to develop a multi-scale, practical, parametric numerical modelling tool for nonwoven designers and manufacturers
  • Develop a multi-scale damage criterion for the assessment of failure of nonwovens
  • Verify the developed numerical scheme with experimental case studies
  • Develop a stand-alone software with a GUI and a fibre-property database for industrial partners so that they can implement the developed modelling scheme for designing nonwovens for required strength, softness and mechanical performance.

 

Interaction of Foams with Porous Substrates

Student: Phillip Johnson

School: School of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Anna Trybala

Project abstract:

I am investigating how foams are formed within porous materials and what are the driving factors.  This will allow a model to be generated allowing the optimal parameters to produce the most foam to be obtained.  This can be used to predict how products will interact with porous media and what the foamability will be.

The properties I will be investigating are structures of the porous media and what effects this has on foam production. I will also be investigating how concentration of surfactant also effects this foam production. I am doing this by using a squeezing device that simulates how a consumer will use the product and measuring the foam produced. By changing the different parameters to see what effects it has the hope is this will allow a model to be constructed to best replicate the process.

Transport Technologies Beacon

Optimization of Automotive Drivetrain Dynamics and Friction

Student: Ilias Minas    

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Prof. Jeremy Smith

Project abstract:

The research topic to be investigated is an NVH phenomenon generated due to the interaction between friction and clutch system dynamics in front wheel drive powertrains under certain operating conditions (e.g. vehicle pulling away). The main aim is to study this phenomenon related to clutch dynamics and friction behavior. The objectives of the project are to identify the characteristics of the problem due to friction and non linear dynamics phenomena. To create a dynamic model and of the drivetrain system and validate the model with the experimental results. To conduct parametric studies using the model in order to identify the root causes of the NVH phenomenon.

Study of Leakage and Power Loss from Radial Shaft Seals Used in Automotive Power Transmission Systems.

Student: Emilia Kozuch   

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Ramin Rahmani

Project abstract:

Radial lip seals are used in the automotive transmissions casing-output shaft conjunction to separate the gear train from the external environment and prevent oil leakage. Preventing oil leakage reduces contamination of the environment as well as reducing the requirement of replenishing the lost transmission fluid. Importantly seal design also influences frictional power losses and therefore the vehicles efficiency. The design of radial face seals is a complex challenge; as reduced oil losses often result in increases in surface wear and friction. It is therefore necessary to develop to numerical models that consider influential parameters such as surface roughness, lubricant and surface degradation and thermal effects. The model once validated with experimental data can be used to inform advanced seal designs capable of reducing oil leakage and power loss while extending component service life.

Lubricant – surface system for high performance transmissions

Student: Ed Humphrey   

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Dr Nick Morris 

Project abstract:

The research is based in tribology, which is a branch of Mechanical engineering. Tribology is the study of friction lubricant and wear, and therefore has huge applications in a variety of field, as it applies to anything which involves movement.

My program of research is to develop oil – surface system at the gear tooth contact, in high performance transmissions. The aim of the research is to improve the efficiency, operational stability and consistency, while maintaining the current power transfer.

The surface – lubricant system involves looking into the oil additives, the gear tooth surface, the oils effect on the surface and vice versa, how the oil bonds to the surface, surface change during operation and contact conditions. To achieve this, a detailed testing and analysis procedure is used.

Impact of future intelligent transportations in cities and its associated energy utilisation.

Student: Anna Chang   

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Prof. Roy Kalawsky

Project abstract:

Digitalization, urbanization, and globalization are changing our world. They are significant drivers enabling city development. For the first time in history, urban population is expected to double by 2030; a projection that 730 million people will live in cities with at least 10 million inhabitants (population reference bureau). 

The European Commission (2011 Transport white paper), has laid down the requirement of reduction of ‘conventional fueled’ cars in urban transport by halve by 2030; with a total phase-out in cities by 2050; It urges for a collective European level action, as infrastructure takes many years to plan, build and equip.  

The PhD research will create a system model to predict the energy demand of a city using various types of new intelligent transportations.  One of the key highlight of this research is the in-depth study of alternative intelligent transportation technologies, the findings will allow us to see their individual impact on future city infrastructure. 

Microbubble Assisted Direct Contact Evaporation of Bioethanol

Student: Joseph Calverley  

SchoolSchool of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Hameka Bandalasena

Project abstract:

Bioethanol is a biofuel added to petrol to reduce the environmental impact of transport.  Currently it is produced by batch fermentation which has impreferable, for reasons including variability in the product quality and higher energy costs.  I am looking into whether it is possible to remove ethanol from water using clouds of micro-sized bubbles so that the ethanol can be removed as it is being produced in the fermentation.  Hopefully this will enlarge the benefits of this biofuel, by using less energy in its production, as well as making it cheaper.

Production of an Alcohol Based Fuel Cell for Automotive and Building Application.

Student: Daniel Gayton

School: School of Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Prof Wen-Feng Lin

Project abstract:

My project looks at utilising the energy properties of alcohols for use in a variety of applications to alcohols the use of fossil fuels unnecessary.  In a world where climate change is starting to have an impact on the planet and only finite fossil fuels it is important we find new clean renewable energy to keep up with the worlds demand for energy.

Development of the Benchtop Testing Methodology for Determining Turbine Blade Vibration Amplitude Relative to Input Energy

Student: Marios Georgiou

School: School of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Dr Antonios Pezouranis

Project abstract:

The aim of the research is to identify the most suitable vibration excitation, measurement and analysis method in order to accurately and repeatedly measure the resonant frequency and responsiveness of each turbocharger blade on a benchtop environment.

Some of the key features of this study will identify the common excitation and measuring methods currently in practice.  The objective is to develop a novel technique to excite and measure the vibration spectrum specifically for the turbocharger turbine blades. Understanding the current different measurement and validation processes will allow the development of a test methodology that will be able to extract the maximum possible useful information from the benchtop test.

A bespoke test rig will be designed and developed, capable of holding different sizes of turbine wheels, as well as a specialised test procedure and analysis method which will allow the responsiveness of individual blades to be compared across different wheels.

It is important to reduce the vibration amplitude so as to limit the failure of turbine blade by determining the root causes of high cycle fatigue via computer modelling and experimental studies. This project is supported by Cummins Turbo Technology (CTT).

Corrosion Protection of Next Generation Aluminium Alloys for Light Weight, High Strength Automotive Applications

Student: Sudhir Sharma

School: School of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Dr. Simon Hogg and Prof. Geoff Wilcox

Project abstract:

This project aims to explore the effect of welding newly developed, extruded Al alloys with increased strength to provide an effective material solution for light weighting in automotive applications. During application automotive alloys are often welded, as fasteners (rivets, bolts etc.) to increase weight, but this can cause significant issues with corrosion performance as the alloy additions become locally segregated, leading to galvanic effects. The project will investigate the fundamental mechanisms of corrosion in a range of newly industrialised alloys (both similar and dissimilar metals), joined using conventional fusion welding along with more advanced laser and electromagnetic pulse techniques. Anticipated outcomes include the development of methods for corrosion protection.

 

Off-road Terrain & Tyre Simulation & Optimisation

Student: Robert Tillyard 

School: School of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Dr Dan O’Boy

Project abstract:

This project builds upon the foundations of a previous study into the interactions of off-road tyres and surfaces. The focus is to develop an accurate simulation tool to better predict the forces a tyre develops when interacting with an off-road surface. The academic aims are to increase the depth and breadth of knowledge in this area, establish the significant parameters, understand the importance of certain assumptions and to quantify the point of sufficient accuracy. The industrial aims are to provide a tool that facilitates the correct tyre choice for vehicle OEMs and to predict how a vehicle will behave when fitted with a particular tyre in an off-road driving situation. Areas of direct investigation will include tyre shoulder effects, the effect of surface gradient, tyre transient behaviour, for example the entering and leaving of ruts, and the integration of the tool into a whole vehicle simulation.

 

Energy Challenge

Simple Realistic Driver Model

Student: Jason Moore

SchoolSchool of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Matt Best

Project abstract:

Cars are essential to modern life.  Driving can both be fun and tedious.  As well as being influenced by many different factors, such as mood, age and driving style.  These factors cause a large amount of human error which results in accidents.  In contrast, computers don't make errors but will break.  Therefore, computers driving cars will reduce errors.  As cars are so important implementing them is a challenge.  I am developing a model to predict how someone will drive based on how they turn the steering wheel, accelerate and brake.

CFD Investigation into the Aeroacoustics of Installed Jets

Student: Alex Howlett

SchoolSchool of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Hao Xia

Project abstract:

Awareness of aircraft noise has increased in the last few decades with an increase in people flying.  As a result government legislation, as well as public perception, means that there is great interest from industry in ways to predict and reduce aircraft noise.  Previous research has been into investigating aircraft noise.  However, the relationship of the structure around the installed jet, primarily the wing and the flaps, have a large effect on noise propagation.  This investigation will be aimed at using computation simulations to calculate noise propagation with the hope of being able to reduce aircraft noise.

Evaluation of refined direct solar radiation computation, coupled with a simplified thermal model in low energy building design.

Student: Spyros Akritidis

School: Civil and Building Engineering

Supervisor: Dr. Christina Hopfe

Project abstract:

The building sector is responsible for more than 30% of the total energy consumption. Thus, design strategies and methodologies are being developed in order to provide energy-efficient buildings. Windows permit natural light to enter an internal space, contributing to the psychological well-being of the occupants and to better indoor illumination quality, compared to artificial lighting. Furthermore, windows allow the admittance of solar heat energy, carried by the solar beams. Although heat from solar radiation is desirable during the winter period, however, during warmer year periods, it could cause uncomfortable conditions for the occupants, due to overheating. Moreover, it is a significant source of increased cooling energy consumption, required to counter the effects of increased room temperature. The amount of direct solar radiation entering a space is influenced by various parameters (i.e. sun position in relation to the aperture, window system geometry, shading devices, surrounding environment obstructions). To help building engineers, design and construct energy-efficient buildings, several thermal modelling methods have been developed, that account for the heat gains associated with solar radiation. However, there are deficiencies in their solar radiation calculation methodology.

In answer to the demand for a robust methodology, the purpose of this research is to evaluate a direct solar radiation index, integrate it into a simple thermal model and evaluate its performance and effectiveness.

The Role of Defects in Cadmium Telluride Thin-film Solar Cells

Student: Michael Watts

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr Pooja Panchmatia

Project abstract:

Cadmium Telluride photovoltaic cells have the potential to produce cheaper solar energy. Key to CdTe’s performance is a heat treatment with chlorine compounds, boosting the cell’s efficiency from around 1% up to a current record of 22%. However the mechanism of this performance increase is yet to be fully established. A number of factors are involved which are difficult to separate experimentally such as the removal of stacking faults, effects on point defects and passivation of grain boundaries.

Computer simulations allow us to investigate each of these factors in isolation to determine their individual effects on cell performance. I am using Density Functional Theory simulations to model CdTe at the quantum level, investigating the role of chlorine at grain boundaries and other defects to characterise the beneficial impacts of chlorine treatment and help push the efficiency even higher.

Fabrication of Efficient Solar Cells from CZTS (Copper, Zinc, Tin, Selenium)

Student: Jamie Lowe

School: Science

Supervisor: Andrei Malkov

Project abstract:

I am studying solar cells and looking to improve their efficiency whilst using cheaper and less toxic materials than current commercial solar cells.

Solar cells will be fabricated from Copper, Tin, Zinc and Selenium/Sulfur, which are comparatively cheap and non-toxic.  The interaction of these elements with other substituents of the solar cell will be studied and understood, with the aim to improve negative interactions via alteration of some of the substituents. The fabrication method will also be studied, with the aim of improving the fabrication method and in turn improving efficiencies. The aim of this research is to produce solar cells which are more commercially viable and accessible to the general population.

Sustainable Energy and Poverty Reduction

Student: Anthony Perrett

School: School of Social, Political and Geographical Sciences

SupervisorEd Brown and Katherine Gough

Project abstract:

My PhD research is on sustainable energy and poverty reduction. More specifically, I am exploring the role of clean energy technologies in the promotion of income-generating activities in low-income settlements of urban Ghana. Essentially, I am researching how, or even if, you can reduce urban poverty by improving access to sustainable energy sources.  My research includes interviewing key representatives of stakeholders in the Ghanaian energy sector such as government officials, NGOs, charities, private energy companies and specialist academics. I will also conduct focus groups, further interviews and ethnography research with residents and home based enterprises (HBEs) in low-income areas. I am in a first year PhD candidate and will spend between 9-12 months in Ghana beginning in June.

Quantitative Characterisation of Nuclear Graphite

Student: Dan Bradshaw

SchoolSchool of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Dr. Houzheng Wu

Project abstract:

All of the Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGR) within the UK utilise nuclear-grade graphites as a neutron moderator and a key structural component within the reactor cores. Despite how prevalent it is, knowledge of how the material behaves at the micro- and nano-scale needs to be furthered so we can better understand the properties exhibited by the bulk material; particularly towards the end of a reactor’s life-cycle after decades of exposure to elevated temperatures and irradiation.

Innovative methods will be developed to accurately & quantitatively characterise the graphite on multiple length scales. Ultimately, this will result in more accurate modelling of material performance and the associated economic & social benefits.

Changing Environments and Infrastructure Challenge

Integrating statistical and ecological frameworks to quantify biodiversity related challenges

Student: Fiona Houlgreave

School: Science

SupervisorHideyasu Shimadzu

Project abstract:

The biosphere is a complex system with many components and interactions. We are still at an early stage in developing quantitative knowledge and understanding of this system. Climate change and human population growth mean that this area of research has strategic political importance in addition to scientific importance. 

The aim of the research is to investigate the role of species interactions in ecological communities, to investigate the effect of some environmental influences on ecological communities, to quantify the (spatio-)temporal change, and to develop and test a framework for achieving these aims. This is for the purpose of quantifying and monitoring biodiversity change in the world.

Optimisation of the NHS Infrastructure Through a Data Driven Approach

Student: Grant Blockley

School: Civil & Building Engineering

Supervisor: Zulfikar Adamu

Project abstract:

Optimisation of the NHS infrastructure, this includes everything from lands and estates to transport and water.  The aim of the research is to use available data about communities, demographical data,  to improve the infrastructure.  The main focus is to use this data to streamline, optimise the delivery of carepathways or services.  Data mining techniques will be used to extract key variables that indicate areas to improve.  The hope is to develop regional models or even a general framework to identify the appropriate carepathways.  This model could save the NHS money, patient’s time and most importantly, improve the quality of care.

Listening to Infrastructure

Student: Helen Heather-Smith

School: Civil & Building Engineering

Supervisor: Neil Dixon

Project abstract:

To develop a framework for understanding the stability state of a material body, such as a soil or snow slope, by listening to and measuring the sounds it outputs (acoustic emissions (AE)) by using infrastructure like utility pipes as waveguides. As a material is stressed it can restructure and deform releasing small amounts of energy in the form of AE. Understanding this AE, where it comes from, what has caused it and how it propagates through things like pipes before being measured, means we can then understand how a material body is behaving. Therefore by conducting laboratory and computational modelling experiments to both define the signal characteristics of stress processes and how these characteristics then change with propagation, we can better understand and potentially mitigate the effects of stability problems such as landslides.

Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Intelligent Transport Technologies

Student: Cansu Baher Masera

School: Civil & Building Engineering

Supervisor: Dr Maria Ioanna Imprialou

Project abstract:

Road transport is a major contributor of poor air quality especially in urban environments where traffic congestion and vehicle intensity are high. Traffic emissions evidently pose a threat to human health, and therefore mitigation measures are necessary to be developed. Besides current regulatory emission strategies, implementation of intelligent and effective transport technologies (e.g. connected and autonomous vehicles, geo-fencing) can provide significant improvements in urban air quality. Connected vehicle technology enables vehicles to communicate with each other and also to infrastructure by providing real-time information to the drivers for rerouting and rescheduling their trips or by changing the type of power (from internal combustion engine to electrical motors at specific locations) for hybrid vehicles aiming emission reduction through smoother traffic flow. This research aims to evaluate the effectiveness of intelligent road transport technologies in reducing tailpipe emission concentrations for better air quality. This will be analysed through developing emission models using traffic simulation. The results of the project are expected to contribute to our understanding of the application of intelligent transport technologies for emission reductions.

Earth, Winds, Clouds and Mountains – All-Scale Atmospheric Model

Student: Francesco Cocetta

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: J Szmelter

Project abstract:

Developing of modelling techniques for advanced simulations of physical phenomena taking place in the earth’s atmosphere.  The research will contribute to the improvement of unstructured meshes based nonhydrostatic models for geophysical flows which can alleviate the limitations of regular grids traditionally used for weather forecasts.  Main feature of the research will be the multi-scale approach that would encompass many atmospheric phenomena, starting for large scale global circulation and climate features, through meso-scale processes, until those involving the coupling between the earth’s surface ad atmosphere, and droplets growth.

Health and Wellbeing Challenge

The use of wearable technology to examine military training and bone health

Student: Elliott Fullerton

School: Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences

Supervisor: Dr Katherine Brooke-Wavell

Project abstract:

During the military recruitment process, it is common for a recruit to experience a musculoskeletal injury during training due to its arduous nature. This PhD aims to determine the cause of these injuries through the use of wearable technology, looking specifically at the frequency of loading on the joint a recruit experiences, the magnitude of each load along with its type (Running, Marching, Walking, Obstacle course, field exercise). Quantifying the thresholds of these loading patterns in relation to injury will benefit the military in re-designing training programs to reduce the risk of injury and therefore not only produce a higher frequency of capable soldiers but also save on financial rehabilitation costs.

Ageing post Very Severe Injury (VSI)

Student: Daniel Rothwell

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr Laura-Anne Furlong

Project abstract:

This research will identify the biomechanical characteristics of lower limb amputees during walking and running tasks.   This can potentially be used to inform exercise rehabilitation in lower limb amputees resulting in reduced health risks and increased independent physical activity

Modelling the Mind

Student: Jonathan Brooks

School: Science

Supervisor: Natalia Janson

Project abstract:

The human brain displays many complex and unique behaviours: it simultaneously performs various cognitive processes such as pattern recognition, categorisation, memorisation, and forgetting. To do this, it alters its internal structure in response to external stimuli (it is self-organising) and continues to grow and change throughout life (it is plastic). Thus, any system that captures all the dynamics of cognitive processes must itself be a plastic and self-organising system. The project aims to explore the mathematical mechanisms behind these systems and the viability of their use as a model of cognition.

The Development of Brain-on-Chip Technology Looking at Neuron to Neuron Interactions.

Student: James Kinsella

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr Paul Roach

Project abstract:

Brain on chip technology uses brain tissue, grown from stem cells, and grows these cells onto a  physical model, a chip.  This technology has many applications such as testing drugs on human cells both healthy and damaged.  This reduces the need to test on animals. 

My project is to use the technology to create a chip capable of monitoring neurons (brain cells) at a single cell level.  The neurons are monitored using electrodes which the cells are grown on top of and are able to monitor a number of points of the neuron to determine if the electrical signal, called an action potential, is being passed to the next neuron in a chain. 

This could be applied to disease models, and help us determine how the neurons interact at a single cell level and eventually how this applies to multiple neuron networks.

Brain on a chip; Synthesis of a Luminescent Probe for the Detection of ATP

Student: Georgie Adcock

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr Steve Butler

Project abstract:

I aim to synthesise a lanthanide based probe to detect ATP.  ATP is the main energy source in the body, so by being able to detect and quantify its concentration, cell functions such as protein phosphenylation can be tracked in real time.  For the brain on a chip CDT, the probe will help to monitor the differing ATP levels around the brain and how its concentration varies as the cells undergo biological processes. 

The aim is to compare the activity in a healthy brain with one that is representative of a Parkinsons or Alzheihemers brain that has experienced a loss of neurons.  The design of the probe will have an emphasis in aqueous solubility and ATP selectivity.

Hybrid 3D Printed and Tissue Engineered Bioreactors – Applications to the Neuromuscular System

Student: Kerry Chaplin

SchoolSchool of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Supervisor: Prof. Mark Lewis

Project abstract:

This project aims to utilise 3D printing technology to generate a custom bioreactor that will enable the microfluidic perfusion culture of 3D tissue engineered neuromuscular constructs.  This lab scale model will use the co-culture of neuronal and muscle cells in a bioreactor flow device to allow the screening of pharmaceutical drugs.  This screening system could incorporate bioreactor cultures of the liver cells, muscle cells and the neuromuscular  junction.

Microfluidic production of drug-loaded biodegradable polymer microparticles for coating novel drug-eluting angioplasty balloons

Student: Tymele Deydier

SchoolSchool of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Goran Vladisavljevic

Project abstract:

Angioplasty is a current procedure used to treat blocked or narrowed blood vessels, responsible for cardiovascular diseases. It is performed using a balloon catheter that is inserted into the vessel and inflated, in order to enlarge the vessel and improve the blood flow. But the balloon inflation often leads to inflammation reaction into the vessel, leading to a re-narrowing of the vessel after the procedure. Thus, recently, anti-inflammatory drugs have been used to cover the balloon and reduce inflammation during the procedure.

The aim of this project is to synthesise biodegradable polymer microparticles that encapsulate the anti-inflammatory drug and can be used to coat the balloon. That way the drug is kept intact during the insertion of the catheter into the vessel and during the inflation of the balloon, but it is released at the target site of action, i.e. when the balloon comes in contact with the vessel walls, and reduces the inflammation.

Novel ‘Switchable’ Materials for Neural Tissue Engineering

Student: Jordan Roe

School: School of Aeronautical and Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering

Supervisor: Helen Willcock

Project abstract:

Parkinsons Disease currently affects millions of people world-wide, and is characterised by symptoms such as tremors and slowness of movement.  This is caused by a loss of dopaminergic neurons within a certain area of the brain.  My project focuses on replenishing and regenerating this area of the brain, using materials and methods that have not previously been explored.

‘Switchable’ materials refers to the ability to switch my replacement brain section from that of a ‘soft’ state to that of a ‘stiff’ state and back again, once incorporated into the brain.  This allows the transportation of what would otherwise be a very fragile construct, into the brain, without compromising cell integrity.

Multisensory Integration of Human Wetness Perception

Student: Callie Merrick

School: Loughborough Design School

Supervisor: Davide Filingeri

Project abstract:

The research studies conducted as part of this PhD take place in the Thermosense Lab at the Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre.  Each study focusses on several perceptual aspects that can be used in conjunction with each other to help establish the mechanisms behind the multisensory integration of wetness perception. The research will involve analysing the relative importance and contribution of each of the assessed perceptual inputs, which will be generated by various stimuli according to the dermal wetness and dryness, thermal properties, frictional coefficients, visual inputs and auditory cues.  This knowledge can then be applied to a range of fields, with an initial focus on absorbency products.

Brain on a Chip; Moving into Human Cells

Student: Sophie Oakley

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr Paul Roach

Project abstract:

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons are on the rise in line with the increasing ageing population and have little to few treatment options and no cure. Several companies have reduced if not closed their research programs completely due to the limited pharmaceutical progress made in the last decade.

My project follows the creation of a brain on a chip device trying to mimic the conditions of Parkinson's disease in the lab. Current work uses rat brain tissue and my project aims to utilise human stem cells to examine the activity of brain cells in different parts of the brain and how this changes in diseased conditions.  By providing an improved biomimetic model this has the potential to provide a more accurate human model for more effective drug testing of such diseases where most drugs fail at clinical trial.

A Novel Muti-Wavelength Opto-Electric Sensor for Enabling Effective Vital Signs Monitoring during Physical Activity

Student: Panagiotis Blanos

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Dr Sijung Hu

Project abstract:

This research project aims to investigate how to effectively deliver a wearable and enhanced power-saving Multi-wavelength Opto-electronic Sensor (MOS) prototype, capable of real-time vital signs and physiological variations monitoring with better performance both at rest and during physical activities in healthcare, sport and fitness industries. The research approach, including optoelectronic hardware and measurements from experimental protocol, has been exploited to: 1) research a new Multi-wavelength Opto-electronic Sensor (MOS) to qualify the performance of physiological measurement during physical activities; 2) investigate the impact of different circumstances on physiological measurements with a designated protocol. The prospect prototype will be created to provide reliable signals that are motion resistant and adaptable to physiological changes (thermoregulation) over extended periods of time as its design is ultra-light weight, unobtrusive and does not impede or restrict movement.

 

Muscles to Molecules Via Mass Spectrometry

Student: Tomos Rosser

School: School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Supervisor: Dr Martin Lindley

Project abstract:

Combining research in cellular biology and exercise physiology, my project aims to apply the separation and identification techniques of Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), in both qualitative and quantitative analysis, to bridge the divide in understanding between these two areas of bio-analysis.

Applying the analytical techniques of GC-MS to gain an understanding of the molecular changes specific to metabolic pathways, the research intends to develop a profile of metabolites observed during in vitro (cellular) experimentation and in vivo (full body) exercises. In Vitro experimentation will see electrical pulse stimulation (EPS) of skeletal muscle cells, which stimulates muscle fibre contraction, inducing metabolic perturbations. This in vitro methodology provides an isolated environment, in which atmospheric changes can be tracked to metabolic pathways, allowing for a profile of compounds regulated during metabolism to be obtained. Once the method has been validated and developed for experimentation of human muscle skeletal cells, the metabolite profile can be used as a reference for analysis of breath samples from in vivo exercise.

 

Impact of Ethnic Differences on Personal Climate Systems

Student: Micheala Lawes

School: Loughborough Design School

Supervisor: Simon Hodder

Project abstract:

My research aims to understand the influence of ethnicity on thermal perception, and examine the scientific principles that explain such differences. The PhD is co-sponsored by Nissan, who will use the outputs to design in-vehicle automated climate systems tailored to their specific geographical markets. I am based within the Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre, and supervised by Dr Simon Hodder and Professor George Havenith. My project draws upon principles and theories of human factors, psychology, physiology and environmental ergonomics. 

 

Biofeedback for Rehabilitation of Lower-Limb Amputees

Student: Natalie Egginton

School: School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Supervisor: Dr Laura-Anne Furlong

Project abstract:

The objective of this project is to aid rehabilitation of lower-limb amputees by developing a feedback system to enhance muscle function during gait. Initially, the variation in muscle activation and co-ordination during gait between healthy and patient populations will be identified, by collecting electromyography and motion analysis. Then computer models and software shall be developed to quantify the deviation from healthy gait, with the aim to optimise muscle function within amputees. These developments will lead to the formation of a feedback system which will be used within a rehabilitation setting for lower-limb amputees and improve their long-term health and function.

 

Secure and Resilient Societies Challenge

Development of new fingerprint development techniques for use in cases of heritage crime.

Student: Shawny Fleming

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr. Paul Kelly(main), Dr. Stephen Butler, Dr. Louise Grove

Project abstract:

I am working to develop new techniques and improve on current fingerprint development techniques which can be incorporated into heritage crime investigations. These can include stone and metal theft, damage to heritage sites such as churches, and things like theft from museums. These are difficult items to examine, as they require examination without damaging the item. Due to their challenging nature, I am working on non-invasive techniques and techniques with minimal impact to the items to be examined.

On site identification of body fluids through mass spectrometry

Student: Stephanie Rankin

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr Jim Reynolds

Project abstract:

According to the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology, there is a growing need for the ability to perform on site analysis of potential evidence at a crime scene, prior to or instead of transportation to a laboratory for further analysis. The identification of human bodily fluids current involves contaminating presumptive tests followed by sometimes time-consuming laboratory-based examination.

This project aims to develop novel ambient ionisation mass spectrometry techniques for the direct analysis and identification of body fluids, enabling in situ analysis without causing contamination to the sample of interest. The development of a transportable, direct analysis technique would allow for the elimination of lengthy sample preparation and analysis steps, thus increasing the speed and efficiency of a forensic investigation.

Application of Computational Chemistry to Forensic Detection Methods

Student: Lily Hunnisett

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr Pooja Panchmatia

Project abstract:

The design and synthesis of any type of chemical compound, from medicinal drugs to inorganic materials, can be a tedious and complicated trial and error process when approached synthetically. In recent years, the use of computational modelling and design has proved increasingly useful in not only the design, but the characterisation of the structure and reactive nature of both known and potential chemical compounds. Our project applies computational modelling within the field of chemical development of latent fingerprints in forensic analysis.

Ninhydrin, a commonly used chemical treatment for latent fingerprints, when applied in combination with zinc chloride, forms a fluorescent residue, allowing the fingerprint to be photographed. However, the quality and detail of the resulting fingerprint is inconsistent, prompting the use of an alternative chemical developer. The metal complex formed after development, responsible for the fluorescent behaviour observed, will first be characterised using DFT calculations. Following an understanding of the characteristics required for fluorescent activity to be observed, altered metal-complex structures will be modelled and characterised using DFT calculations, with aim to design a new and more-effective alternative chemical treatment to ninhydrin.

Adventure

Birational Geometry of Singular 3-Folds

Student: Erik Paemurru

School: Science

Supervisor: Dr Hamid Ahmadinezhad

Project abstract:

I work in pure maths, geometry. I study abstract surfaces. Why study these? Let’s say we are making a car. We could just try to put the parts together and see how it works. A better way would be to use the equations that govern the friction, air resistance etc. We could study these equations numerically, do simulations. Or we could study the solutions as abstract surfaces. This is what I look at. I study a type of surfaces called “prime” or Fano surfaces. Like integers are built from prime numbers, all surfaces can be built from these “prime” surfaces. I consider 95 classes of three-dimensional “prime” surfaces, introduce a singularity on them and study their geometry.

Pure Inspiration

Mathematical Modelling of Water Filtration and Purification Devices.

Student: Antonios Parasyris

School: Science

Supervisor: Marco Discacciati

Project abstract:

I am studying applied mathematics, modelling and simulation, and my application is on water filtration and purification devices.  I am modelling a novice filtration device that combines advantages of known filtration methods, and ensure its optimal functionality.  I am doing this by coupling different physics, and using an optimization method to find the perfect configuration for this device.  This is important because the success of these filters rely on a social acceptance and this scientific proof of optimality helps on that end.

Robot Learning with Human Emotions by Means of Immense Virtual and Augmented Reality.

Student: Piotr Fratczak

SchoolWolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Yee Mey Goh

Project abstract:

I am working on Human – Robot Collaboration. Even if robots are designed to help humans, they often operate in separate spaces, failing to co-operate and effectively assist humans. One of the issues here is the lack of trust and safety guarantees. However, if we could teach an emotionless machine to recognize human emotions and converse with its operator as naturally as two humans interact with each other, that would be the first step towards true and safe collaboration.

I am trying to evoke human emotions in a safe and controllable way by using immersive virtual reality. I am trying to measure how human physiological signals (heart rate, sweating, brain waves, etc.) change while experiencing these emotions. I am trying to describe human responses in a digital way and teach robots how to recognize them. Finally, I am trying to make humans and robots understand and trust each other.

Pending

Student: Tim Grange

School: Science

Supervisor: Elisa Postinghel

Project abstract:

I’m an algebraic geometer – I study zero sets of polynomials, which can be represented as curves, surfaces, etc. in space. In particular, I’m studying Toric Geometry, which looks at a subclass of these zero sets containing a specific kind of subset. These have very concrete examples and are easy to compute – they can be represented as a ‘cone’ in a finite dimensional space, that is the area/volume enclosed by ‘rays’ from the origin. Toric varieties are examples of what are known as ‘Mori Dream Spaces’, which are particularly nice varieties in the sense that they are well behaved under certain types of functions, and classifying these Mori Dream Spaces is an active area of research in algebraic geometry.

Applications of Algebraic Geometry in the Classification of overconstrained 6R linkages

Student: Tiago Duarte Guerreiro

School: Science

Supervisor: Hamid Ahmadimezhad 

Project abstract:

Algebraic Geometry is an area of mathematics incredibly wide and deep. Roughly speaking, it studies the interplay between geometric objects (such as curves and surfaces) and algebraic ones (such as groups and rings). Our project aims to exploit this connection to derive better, more efficient methods to model Robot Kinematics and eventually classify all 6-arm robotic arms.  Robot Kinematics studies the movement of robotic arms connected by joints.  These joints give the ability for the arm to rotate or translate on out 3-dimensional space.  This movement often draws a curve in space which carries a geometric meaning.  Using algebraic geometry we can give an algebraic context and study it more systematically.

Parikh Matrices – Complexity and Applications: Investigating the Complexity of Identifying the Existence of a Sequence Associated to a Parikh Matrix

Student: Laura Hutchinson

School: Science

Supervisor: Robert Mercas / Daniel Reidenbach

Project abstract:

A Parikh matrix is a representation of a word that gives information about the order in which letters appear in a word.  However, once a word is written in its Parikh matrix form, it is very difficult to convert the matrix back to the word again because several similar words can share the same matrix.  I am looking to find a method that will make each matrix unique to a single word.  If successful, this will be a new method of compression that will be of particular use when applied to extremely long strings of letters, such as DNA sequences.

  

Parametrisation of Algebraic Surfaces

Student: Laura Mallinson

School: Science

Supervisor: Hamid Ahmadinezhad

Project abstract:

Parametrising surfaces lies at the heart of geometric design.  Deciding whether a surface is parametrisable or not can be answered by the Castelnuovo rationality criterion.  However, giving an actual parametrisation of a surface is a very challenging problem and existing methods do not perform well in practice.  This project will develop new techniques for parametrising singular surfaces of degree at least 4.  Our approach is based on working with singular models of surfaces, but substantially decreasing the complexity of the computations by avoiding resolution techniques. We will instead aim to give a thorough analysis of the singularities and the birational geometry of these surfaces.

A Systems Engineering Approach to Autonomous Systems Design

Student: Jordan Crawford

School: Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Supervisor: Dr. Ella-Mae Hubbard and Dr. Mey Goh

Project abstract:

I am looking into multiple areas in Artificial Intelligence in the social and legal domain.  For example, looking into a technological solution to the legal problem of liability frameworks that attempt to deal with issues created by machines that can make decisions for themselves.  An interesting solution to this problem is a “Turing Registry” which is a framework in which classifies ALL AI and assigns premiums to them for their deployment so that in the case of a claim against it, the liability can be paid to them out of the collection of premiums without having to identify “cause-in-fact”.  However another interest area is in AI trust and transparency with users and the public since this is a main contributor to successful AI implementation.

Decision Science

Advanced Analytics for Resource Efficient Supply Chain

Student: Ursula Davis

School: School of Business and Economics

Supervisor: Dr Alok Choudhury

Project abstract:

The interdisciplinary PhD project focuses on integrating engineering and management areas including supply chain management, Energy and water management, and life-cycle assessment. The research objectives are: 

  1. Develop and apply methods and OR based tools assessing resource usage in context of overall supply chain configuration and logistics implications.
  2. Develop a Resource Efficiency Optimiser (CEO) toolset for multi-objective optimisation incorporating self-healing evolutionary algorithms and life-cycle assessment integrated with closed loop supply chain modelling defining KPIs in relevant areas.
  3. Develop operations research based quantitative models to inform supply chain managers and policymakers on how government environmental policies affect resource-efficient supply chain decision making.

This project will promote advancement of the state of the art in related areas Mathematical modelling and optimisation, energy modelling and management, integration of life-cycle assessment in a novel area, big data analytics and supply chain management. Emphasis will be placed on application in industries and impact.