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Funded Research degree opportunities

We currently have the following funded Research degree opportunities available. 

PhD Studentship in innovative techniques for precise, altraumatic placement of cochlear implant

The Institute for Bioengineering at Brunel University London is offering a funded PhD studentship, supervised jointly by an internationally leading team of engineering and clinical professionals.The studentship is funded by Action on Hearing Loss, the largest UK charity helping people confronting deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss to live the life they choose. 

Based in the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, the studentship is available for both Home/EU and International students for a period of three years, effective 1 October 2017. The studentship will offer an annual stipend of approximately £17,000 plus Home/EU tuition fees (£4,195 for 2017/18 entry).

The aim of this project is to investigate new approaches in technology to produce an innovative integrated, automatic cochlear implant (CI) electrode array feed tool for demonstration in laboratory phantoms. The tool will minimise the level of trauma induced and increase the precision to which the electrode is fully placed within the cochlea.

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Cochlear implants (CIs) have shown considerable patient benefit in terms of understanding speech in severely and profoundly hearing-impaired adults and children. Trauma induced during implantation is of great concern as the intention is to preserve patient residual hearing. Naturally the hearing organ is sensitive to physical disturbance, and intervention during CI currently leads to disturbance induced by preparing a mastoidectomy, cochleostomy and through placement of the electrode within the cochlea. Precise and atraumatic placement of the electrode array with respect to the tissues of the cochlea will lead to more consistent results and predictable outcome for patients.  This research is dedicated to investigate innovative technology to achieve this aim working from a significant background of successful work investigating atraumatic implantation in otology.

The aim of this project is to investigate new approaches in technology to produce an innovative integrated, automatic CI electrode array feed tool for demonstration in laboratory phantoms. The tool will minimise the level of trauma induced and increase the precision to which the electrode is fully placed within the cochlea. To achieve this, the research will investigate and integrate: 

  • A novel sensing scheme using CI electrodes for automatic perception and discrimination  of the electrode array behaviour during placement to avoid damage to inner cochlear membrane structures.
  • A novel micro-actuation approach for automated insertion of the array based on pulling as opposed to pushing that will achieve precise displacement on required axes without errors induced by electrode flexure.
  • An automated strategy for electrode motion during placement to minimise the amplitude of intra-cochlear pressure transients and tissue interaction. Automation is a requirement as in this microsurgical, minimally invasive process precise actuation and perception is beyond the capability of human operators.

Informal enquires may be addressed to Dr Xinli Du and/or and Dr Nikolaos Boulgouris via email xinli.du@brunel.ac.uk / nikolaos.boulgouris@brunel.ac.uk

Applicants must have a good undergraduate degree (upper second or first) in engineering (mechanical or electrical) or physical science, and have good communication skills, written and spoken English language. An understanding of programming languages such as CI language and programming in MATLAB, mechanical or electronic s design will be an advantage. A postgraduate masters degree is not essential, but is desirable.

How to Apply
If you wish to apply, please e-mail the following to cedps-pgr-office@brunel.ac.uk by noon on 31 March 2017:

  • An up-to-date CV;
  • A single-page A4 personal statement setting out why you are a suitable candidate (i.e. outlining your qualifications and skills);
  • Names and contact details for two academic referees;
  • A copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • Evidence of English language capability to IELTS 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all sections), if applicable

Interviews will take place during April/May 2017. 

PhD studentship for RCUK National Centre for Sustainable Energy use in Food Chains

The Insitute of Energy Futures at Brunel University London is offering one funded full-time PhD studentship to conduct research into Optimising Energy Management in Industry (OPTIMEM). Based in the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, the PhD studentship is for a period of three years effective from June 2017.

The successful applicant will receive an annual stipend (bursary) of £16,296  plus payment of their full time Home/EU tuition fees.

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The UK Government the EU and the international community in general have ambitious targets for reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) and Global Warming. Even though emission reduction targets to 2020 are likely to be met by the UK, longer term targets to 2050 and 2100 are unlikely to be met without substantial changes to policy and technological approaches in the generation, distribution and utilisation of energy.

Globally, industrial energy use is responsible for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions. In the UK, industrial emissions have reduced in recent years and are now estimated to contribute between 20-25% of total emissions. Approximately 70% of the energy demand of the industrial sector is for heat. All heating processes result in significant quantities of waste heat, up to 50% in some cases, and is widely acknowledged that there is significant potential for heat recovery, estimated at between 18-40 TWh/yr or £0.18-0.4 billion per year at today's energy prices. As yet, most of this potential has remained unexploited due to technical, economic and organisational factors. Other opportunities for energy efficiency and decarbonisation include the optimisation of steam systems that are responsible for 35% of industrial energy use, the use of bioenergy, particularly from organic and other wastes generated on site, and whole industrial site energy integration and optimisation.

To exploit the potential offered by energy efficiency, heat recovery and conversion to electrical or thermal energy at a higher or lower temperature and utilise the opportunities offered by waste to energy conversion and energy integration a number of major challenges need to be addressed. These include: i) development and application of technologies for data acquisition at high enough granularity to enable detailed analysis of performance at component, process and system level, ii) methodologies for the optimal design of technologies to provide confidence in their performance at implementation stage, iii) tools for performance analysis and control optimisation in real time, iv) modelling of energy flows at site level to provide optimisation of energy management based on energy, environmental and economic considerations, and iv) investigation and development of business models that overcome barriers and encourage the adoption of new energy efficient and demand reduction technologies. 

In the OPTEMIN project we aim to address these challenges by working very closely with our key industrial collaborators to:
i) understand the major technical, operational and economic issues associated with the acquisition and analysis of large energy data
ii) use the data to gain insights into the complex energy networks, their interactions and impacts in large industrial manufacturing facilities
iii) critically evaluate the performance of new innovative energy demand reduction and energy conversion technologies using data from demonstration installations, iv) investigate drivers and business models that can facilitate their full development and commercialisation
v) develop methodologies and tools to optimise individual process design, whole site energy integration and management and evaluate their decarbonisation potential within the context of Government policies and decarbonisation roadmaps to 2050.

The overall objective is to demonstrate through the research programme and fully documented case studies supported by comprehensive data sets, the potential to achieve energy demand and carbon emission reductions in excess of 15%.  

Informal enquires may be addressed to Dr Hussam Jouhara via email to: hussam.jouhara@brunel.ac.uk

Entry Requirements
You should have or be expecting to gain a first or upper-second class honours degree in engineering (mechanical, chemical, environmental), economics, computer science or from any other social science related discipline.  A Masters qualification is an advantage but not essential.  

How to apply
Please e-mail your application comprising all of the documents listed below by Noon on 17 February 2017 to cedps-pgr-office@brunel.ac.uk 

  • Your up-to-date CV;
  • A one A4 page statement setting out why you are a suitable candidate (i.e.: your skills and experience);
  • A copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • Two academic references. 
  • Evidence of English language skills to IELTS 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all sections), if applicable;

Interviews will take place during March 2017

For all other research degree opportunities visit our Research Degree homepage.