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2017 PhD Studentships

Additional projects will continue to be added to the website so please bookmark this page and return to it in future to check if a project that may be of interest to you has become available.

******New projects added June 2017******

As part of our continuing recruitment process we invite further applications for four PhD studentships for projects in the field of Space Science and Space Instrumentation (see specific topics below). The nominal start date is 2nd October 2017.

The timetable for the recruitment process is outlined below:

  • Application deadline – 11th July 2017 (12.00pm midday)
  • Interview (at the Open University, Milton Keynes or Skype) – 21 July

Please note: If you would like to apply then please send a completed application form, an up to date CV, list of individual courses taken and grades obtained, plus any other relevant information that you think may support your case for consideration, together with an indication of project(s) of interest to STEM-SPS-PhD-Admin by the application deadline. You are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor of the project(s) for any informal enquiries

Additional studentships in the School of Physical Sciences for starting in October 2017 or February 2018 may become available in the near future for a wide range of additional projects covering areas of Astronomy, Physics, Planetary and Space Sciences and Space Instrumentation. Potential projects are also listed below and we continue to welcome enquiries for these projects.

Space Science and Space Instrumentation

(for Oct 2017 start)

Each of the following three projects has a dedicated studentship supporting it:

SS1: GravityCam - A novel high-speed and wide-field instrument for a large astronomical telescope, detecting exoplanets and dark matter.

Contact: Jesper Skottfelt

SS2: Investigation of microwave sintering as a potential fabrication method of Additive Manufacturing technologies for an extra-terrestrial construction processes.

Contact: Sungwoo Lim

SS3: Ion-molecule reactions and their implications on past, present and future space missions.

Contact: Andrew Morse

One studentship is also available to support one of the following projects:

SI1: Radiation damage in the Gaia focal plane: in-orbit data, charge-transfer simulations, and the impact on the astronomy achievable

Contact: David Hall

SI3: Development of an Imager for CubeSatellites (NEW)

Contact: Professor Andrew Holland

SI4: Ultra-low noise CMOS image sensors

Contact: Dr Konstantin Stefanov

SI5: Novel techniques for probing radiation damage mechanisms and defect evolution in silicon devices

Contact: Dr Ben Dryer

Additional funded studentships may become available for start in October 2017 or February 2018 for which the following projects can be considered.  Enquiries welcome, and please continue to check the website for updates.


A1: Investigation of the physico-chemical properties of cosmic dust and ice

Contact: Dr Anita Dawes

A2: UV studies of solar system ices

Contact: Professor Nigel Mason

A3: The Molecular Universe unravelled by innovative THz laboratory techniques

Contact: Dr Sergio Ioppolo

A4:  Variable stars in the SuperWASP all sky survey (NEW)

Contact: Professor Andrew Norton

A5: Using machine learning to find gravitationally-lensed quasars and supernovae (NEW)

Contact: Professor Stephen Serjeant


P1: Theory of correlated electrons in high temperature superconductors

Contact: Dr Jim Hague

P2: Modelling radiation damage in cellular systems

Contact: Professor Nigel Mason

P3: Electron induced Chemistry; Using electrons to control molecular fragmentation

Contact: Professor Nigel Mason

P5: Computational study of processes involving multi-electron molecular dynamics

Contact: Dr Jimena Gorfinkiel

P6: Temporary anions of electron-acceptor molecules (NEW)

Contact: Dr Jimena Gorfinkiel

P7: Quantum correlations in mesoscopic atomic ensembles (NEW)

Contact: Dr Silvia Bergamini

Planetary and Space Sciences

PSS1: Metastable fluid flows on Mars

Contact: Dr Manish Patel

PSS2: Exploring Mars with the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission (NEW)

Contact: Dr Manish Patel

PSS3: Searching for biogenic trace gases on Mars using laboratory experiments and the ExoMars NOMAD instrument (UPDATED)

Contact: Dr Manish Patel

PSS4: Impact and heat processing of Mars’ moon Phobos

Contact: Dr Vic Pearson

PSS5: Breaking rocks: Asteroid regolith production through thermal cycling

Contact: Dr Simon Green

PSS7: The effects of ion-molecule reactions on organics on a comet

Contact: Professor Ian Wright

PSS8: Water-rock reaction on Mars - as seen through Earth analogues

Contact: Dr Susanne Schwenzer

PSS9: Dry ice on Mars: some spectacular surface sizzlers (NEW)

Contact: Dr Axel Hagermann

PSS10: Comparative laboratory study of materials returned to Earth from the Itokawa asteroid with particles collected in the stratosphere (NEW)

Contact: Professor Ian Wright

PSS12: Analysing local-scale wind patterns on Mars using Mesoscale and Global atmospheric models and observations of dust devils from orbit

Contact: Dr Matt Balme

PSS14:Investigation of cometary chemistry using data from the Rosetta legacy

Contact: Professor Ian Wright




Updated 16/06/2017