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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.

As part of our continuing recruitment process we invite further applications for PhD projects in the School of Physical Sciences, covering areas of Astronomy, Physics, Planetary and Space Sciences and Space Instrumentation. We have a further 5 full time studentships still available across these research areas. The nominal start date is 2nd October 2017.

The timetable for the second round of the 2017 recruitment process is outlined below, details of exact dates will be published shortly:

  • Second round application deadline – 28th April 2017
  • Shortlist of applicants and invitation for an interview – early May
  • Interview (at the Open University, Milton Keynes) – likely third week in May 2017

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


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

PSS6: Asteroid properties from SuperWASP light curves

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

PSS13: Ancient river systems on Mars: geological studies using high-resolution images and Digital Terrain Models (NEW)

Contact: Dr Matt Balme

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

Contact: Professor Ian Wright

Space Instrumentation

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

Contact: Dr David Hall

SI2: Correction of radiation-induced charge transfer inefficiency in CCDs for the SMILE mission

Contact: Dr 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

Updated 21/04/2017