Fungi are ubiquitous and important sources of biologically active molecules including antibiotics (e.g. penicillin and cephalosporins), antifungals (e.g. griseofulvin), anti-cholesterol drugs (e.g. statins) and anti-cancer agents. The vegetative part of a fungus termed the mycelium, absorbs nutrients from the environment. The mycelium is starting to be used to generate a range of building materials. We have received funding from the American Airforce Office of Scientific Research to explore the possibility of using fungal mycelial networks for directed assembly.
The funded project will use fungi to develop engineered living materials (ELM) where understanding the effect of the growth environment on mycelial growth will lead to physical structures that can be controlled, where growth can be directed and thereafter developed into novel materials.
The PhD studentship associated with the project will use fungal mycelia to fabricate novel functional bio-inorganic composites. You will perform experiments to understand how growth and chemical composition are affected by environment and then use the mycelia generated to make functional materials. You will isolate the main chemical components and then apply chemical coupling technologies to generate additional functionality on the biomolecular components of the hyphal structures to direct the formation of novel composites.
The interdisciplinary project includes aspects of bioengineering, chemical analysis, synthetic chemistry and materials chemistry. The project will lead to increased understanding of how environment affects the growth of fungal mycelia and how this in turn impacts on the ability of the family of biomolecular materials naturally present in the mycelia to act as components of mesoscale composites.
The project hypothesis is that by understanding how the local environment affects biochemical synthesis and growth patterns we will be able to tailor the structure of functional composite materials based on fungal mycelia.
The project will suit candidates with a background in chemistry, polymer chemistry, biochemistry or bioengineering interested in working in a cross-disciplinary research environment. In the project you will work alongside a research fellow, a PhD student funded by a BBSRC doctoral training programme and research assistants.
The supervisory team will include Professor Carole C. Perry and Dr Victor V. Volkov (Nottingham Trent University) with further support provided by Dr Matthias Brock (Nottingham University).
Duration: typical three years full time
Start date: January 2021 or earlier
Minimum educational requirements are a 2.1 at BSc level with a commendation at Masters’ level of a degree that includes significant project work or a 1st class MChem degree or equivalent with a significant research project.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 4 November 2020. Please ensure that you articulate why you are a good match for the project area and how you hope to benefit from undertaking a PhD.
Interviews will be conducted by Skype or equivalent soon thereafter.
Download an application form here.
Please make sure you take a look at our application guidance notes before making your application.
Fees and funding
Directly Funded Project (American Airforce Office of Scientific Research)
The studentship will provide a non-taxable stipend at UKRI rates and UK/ EU fees for three years. Anyone from outside the EU is welcome to apply but they must be able to show that they can meet the additional tuition fee costs. IELTS of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in any sub-element is required as evidence of English standard.
Guidance and support
Further guidance and support on how to apply can be found on this page.