Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Applications open

PhD Scholarship: Engineering Biological Systems

University of Warwick - School of Engineering

Qualification: Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Start date: October 2022

Application deadline: 30 January 2022

Funding for: UK Students for 3.5 years

Supervisor: Dr Alexander Darlington

Project Description:

Synthetic biology and microbial biotechnology offer sustainable routes to the manufacture of commodity and high-value chemicals. However, currently designing industrial strains is a time-intensive and expensive process. A key cause of this is our difficulty in predicting the impact novel pathways have on the host metabolism and wider physiology leading to failure of most initial designs. Microbial ‘cell factories’ are also subjected to industrial constraints such as fermentation strategy and cost.

In this project, the candidate will develop mathematical models of microbial growth over the course of industrial processes. Using these models, we will identify key interactions which result in poor yields and production failures. We will develop control strategies to improve pathway performance and robustness to both biological and industrial constraints. We anticipate candidates will spend time undertaking experimental work in a partner lab to generate data to refine their computational models and to validate the design strategies they uncovered during their research. Candidates can also benefit from our links with industrial partners who will provide commercial insights and feedback throughout the project. Projects can be tailored to the candidates’ skills and interests. Candidates will build a broad skill set in design, engineering and the application of modern biotechnologies providing a strong foundation for future careers in academia or industry.


The award will cover the tuition fees at the UK student rate, plus a stipend of £15,890 per annum for 3.5 years of full-time study. EU and international students are welcome to apply, however, due to funding restrictions on fees, only the home fees rate will be included.


Candidates should be eligible for home fees (typically UK national). We welcome applications from candidates with an Engineering or Physical Science degree (minimum level 2:1), or a Masters degree at merit level in a relevant field of study. Interested students can contact Dr Darlington directly ( to informally discuss this or other projects, (please quote ENG-PhD in the subject line to ensure the email is not missed).

How to apply:

Candidates should submit an expression of interest by sending a cv and supporting statement outlining their skills and interests in this research area to If this initial application is successful, we will invite you to make a formal application for study. All candidates must fulfil the University of Warwick entry criteria and obtain an unconditional offer before commencing enrolment.

The University of Warwick provides an inclusive working and learning environment, recognising and respecting every individual’s differences. We welcome applications from individuals who identify with any of the protected characteristics defined by the Equality Act 2010.