PhD project: Biophysics of micro-organisms near surfaces

Project description

Several generations of physicists have been inspired by the very  varied swimming styles of microorganisms, from the beating tails of sperm cells, to the surface waves generated by protozoa [1]. A particularly interesting problem is working out what happens when a microorganism approaches or becomes stuck to a surface. This problem is highly biologically relevant, as most microorganisms spend much of their time in close proximity to surfaces, whether this in marine sediment or the human gut. The problem is also physically challenging, combining hydrodynamics with electrostatics and geometry. In this project, you will investigate how organisms such as E. coli bacteria interact, with simple plain surfaces as well as within more complex environments such as model sediments. Students who would like to undertake both theory and experiment are especially encouraged to apply.

[1] Purcell, Edward M. "Life at low Reynolds number." Am. J. Phys 45.1 (1977): 3-11.

Project supervisor

  • (School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Edinburgh)

The project supervisor welcomes informal enquiries about this project.

Find out more about this research area

The links below summarise our research in the area(s) relevant to this project:

What next?

More PhD projects