PhD Vacancies

1. New wavefront correction approaches to correct for scattering and aberration when imaging deep into biological tissue.

University of Nottingham    Faculty of Engineering

Dr A Wright Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Nottingham United Kingdom Atomic Engineering Biomedical Engineering Energy Technologies Other

About the Project

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Nottingham is seeking an enthusiastic, self-motivated student who enjoys working as part of a team to undertake a PhD in the Optics and Photonics Research Group

The project will be supervised by Dr. Amanda Wright and Prof. Mike Somekh working alongside our collaborators, Drs. Parkes and Torres Torres, in the School of Computer Science.  The aim of the project will be to develop new wavefront correction approaches to correct for scattering and aberration when imaging deep into biological tissue. The project will involve a combination of experimental and computational optics and the student will be based in our well-equipped suite of optics labs housed in the Life Science Building.

The successful candidate will be part of a larger multi-disciplinary EPSRC funded project with the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton (

This exciting new medical imaging project aims to develop the technology required to image deep into the human body using light and optics, improving diagnosis and treatment for diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Optical microscopy has many benefits over existing medical imaging approaches as it provides high-resolution minimally-invasive imaging of biological tissue but it is currently hampered by its ability to image deep. This is due to photons being lost because of scattering and aberrations as you image deeper into tissue meaning that the quality of the image dramatically deteriorates to a point where it is no longer possible to form an image. The role of the Nottingham team in this project is to correct for aberrations and recover lost information from the scattered photons by shaping the wavefront of the light as it enters the microscope to push the current limits in imaging depth and enable optical imaging deep into biological tissue. The emphasis being on developing fast and robust approaches that can be translated into a healthcare setting.

The student will gain experience and skills in a range of optical imaging modalities including multi photon and second harmonic generation microscopy, they will build new optical systems to test out approaches using ultrashort-pulsed lasers operating at infra-red wavelengths, they will use devices such as deformable membrane mirrors and spatial light modulators to shape and correct the wavefront of light and will combine optics with Machine Learning and AI to speed up the correction processes.   

For any enquiries about the project please e-mail Dr. Amanda Wright (

Please apply here

When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (beginning ENG and supervisors name) within the personal statement section of the application. This will help in ensuring your application is sent directly to the academic advertising the studentship. 

Funding Notes

Applicants should have, or be expected to gain, a high (1st or 2:1) honours degree in Physics or Electrical and Electronic Engineering and be a UK or home student. The studentship covers tuition fees and stipend for 3 years.


2. Deep-tissue optical imaging

University of Edinburgh    School of Engineering

Prof Robert Henderson , Dr Alistair Gorman

Monday, July 26, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Edinburgh United Kingdom Data Analysis Electrical & Electronic General (Physical Sciences) Medical / Biomedical Physics Optical Physics

About the Project

The CMOS Sensors and Systems Group, of the Institute for Integrated Micro and Nano Systems within the University Of Edinburgh School Of Engineering, invites applications for a PhD position focused on deep-tissue optical imaging, supported by an EPSRC 2050 proposal.

The proposal envisages a world in 2050, where walking through a revolving door or archway allows non-visible light to generate detailed 3D images of any patient with high resolution. This will allow targeting very early detection of disease using non-ionising radiation and novel detectors, in association with fast computational methods and algorithms. This will be transformative, is a practical reality, and in addition potentially offers unique treatment options for the healthcare needs of 2050.

 Work on the different elements needed to create this technology platform will be undertaken by investigators at Edinburgh and Nottingham and Southampton Universities and the researchers will spend time in each other’s labs and will involve Chemists, Engineers, Computational Scientists, Optical Physicists, Clinician’s and Biomedical Scientists to develop and test/evaluate the technology.

The successful applicant will pursue research to push the attainable depths and resolution of optical sensing within tissue, using new detector technology, optical-systems, light-sources, and algorithms. Such advances will contribute to the routine, low-cost, rapid monitoring of health throughout the population. This research will produce techniques combining state of the art optical sensors in the near-infrared band, with novel data-processing and reconstruction algorithms.


  • A first degree or Masters in numerate discipline.
  • Experience with image and/or signal processing.
  • Understanding of optical systems and detectors.
  • Familiarity with electronic PCB hardware, debug and usage.
  • Control of instrumentation in LabVIEW, MATLAB, Python or C.
  • Self-motivated, able to work independently and collaboratively and meet deliverables.


  • Experience with time-resolved optical measurements.
  • Experience of imaging systems.
  • Experience with machine learning, inverse problems and/or optimisation.
  • IC design.
  • PCB design.
  • FPGA usage and hardware description languages.
  • Visualisation of volumetric data.
  • Use of CAD software.
  • Experience with motion control.
  • Experience of working in a multi-disciplinary team.

To Apply:  

Funding Notes

Applications are also welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.


3. Studying Drug Delivery Deep inside Tissues using Non-invasive Imaging Techniques

University of Southampton    Chemistry

Prof S Mahajan

Monday, May 31, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Southampton United Kingdom Analytical Chemistry Biochemistry Biophysics General (Chemical Sciences) Pharmaceutical / Medicinal Chemistry Physical Chemistry

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Prof Sumeet Mahajan (UoS), and Dr Diane Williamson (Dstl)

Project description

Drug delivery platforms are needed to target therapy to required locations and to improve its efficacy. However, key to developing and optimising such drug delivery platforms is the ability to monitor, visualise and evaluate them on their performance in vivo deep inside tissues. Currently techniques which can provide specific information on the drug delivery vehicles and the cargo, monitoring their fate over a prolonged period in cells/tissues but without any invasive procedures do not exist. Nano or micro particles comprise a promising platform technology that can be used to deliver a variety of drugs (both hydrophilic and hydrophobic) including anti-microbials. Label-free techniques such as Raman spectroscopy and coherent Raman imaging offer a non-invasive and non-destructive way to characterise and image such drug delivery platforms. In this project these approaches for intracellular and tissue imaging will be developed and used to answer questions exploring nano/micro particles as viable drug delivery systems. The research aligns with our recent EPSRC Transformative Healthcare 2050 grant to develop deep tissue imaging methods ( In this PhD project we want to develop the application for imaging drug delivery in ex vivo tissues, to thicker sections and ultimately in animal models in vivo.

Successful outcomes will have wide-ranging impact for pharma and field treatment methods; for development of drugs, drug delivery platforms for the treatment of infectious diseases and understanding pharmacological performance of current therapies e.g. insulin, corticosteroids, chemotherapies.

The project is part of a well-established collaboration between the University of Southampton and Dstl. The student will join the School of Chemistry at Southampton with access to state-of-the-art facilities and laboratories and be part of a dynamic research group ( The student will have the opportunity to work with leading Dstl scientists with a placement for >3 months with Dstl. The Dstl facilities include Imaging flow cytometry, micro-Computerised Tomography and In Vivo Imaging System (IVIS).

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof. Sumeet Mahajan, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 3591.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Bioengineering and allied subjects/relevant disciplines. Enthusiasm to work in an interdisciplinary environment with a strong interest in analytical spectroscopy, novel microscopy and imaging techniques is highly desirable. Training in all areas of the PhD will be provided as well as opportunities for professional development will be available. All PhD students are encouraged and supported to participate in national and international conferences.

Closing date: Applications will be considered on a rolling basis till a suitable candidate is found but no later than 31st May 2021 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.

Funding: full tuition plus, for UK students, an enhanced stipend of £15,285 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online selecting “PhD Chemistry (Full time)” as the programme. Please enter Sumeet Mahajan under the Topic or Field of Research.

Applications should include:

  • Personal Statement
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two reference letters
  • Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact:


4. PhD Studentship in the Area of Optical Medical Imaging

University of Edinburgh    School of Chemistry

Prof M Bradley

Saturday, May 01, 2021 Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Edinburgh United Kingdom General (Chemical Sciences) Organic Chemistry

About the Project

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have sponsored a £6M interdisciplinary research project between the Universities of Edinburgh, Nottingham and Southampton as part of its forward-looking investment into healthcare technologies for 2050 see:  InLightenUs ( The project brings together a multi-disciplinary team of internationally recognised academics who have world-class track records in chemistry, sensors, optics, machine learning and lasers etc. and aims to deliver transformative technologies and devices within the area of muscular skeletal disease and cancer.

As part of the University of Edinburgh’s commitment to this project, we are looking to recruit a high-caliber PhD student to join this dynamic team. In particular, we are seeking an enthusiastic chemistry/chemical technology student to develop novel chemistry in the area of organic upconverting materials. The project will initially focus on the design, organic synthesis and physical characterisation of small molecule fluorophores, with the aim to extend these into the near-infrared wavelength regime via one- and two-photon excitation.

This project will link organic and polymer chemistry to incorporate these new fluorophores into polymeric materials for applications across the project. This affords the student the opportunity for both organic and polymeric synthesis, as well as using high-throughput technologies of polymer microarrays for combinatorial chemistry.

The project is suitable for graduates with strong chemistry background with a keen interest in organic and polymer chemistry and its application in a biomedical setting. Interest in biology, informatics, image analysis, engineering, or physics would be beneficial.

Application Process

To apply please submit a cover letter stating clearly why you are interested in applying for the studentship, a full up-to-date C.V. and names and addresses of two academic referees to the email given below by 1st May 2021.

For applications and further details, please contact:  Professor Mark Bradley:

Equality and Diversity

The School of Chemistry holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. The University is a member of the Race Equality Charter and is a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment. See our University Initiatives website for further information. University Initiatives website:

Funding Notes

The studentship is fully funded for 48 months and covers tuition fees and an annual stipend (starting at £15,609 per annum) for a candidate satisfying UKRI residency requirements.