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.

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.

Energy Challenge

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.