The exciting PhD opportunity was funded by EPSRC CDT WISER and industry partners (expertise in biosensors manufacturing and disinfection for water treatment).  We are offering a fully funded national PhD studentship covering tuition fees, competitive stipend, research and consumables, and travel for international conference. The candidate will be working with a highly interdisciplinary and international team to develop the advanced sensors technology (e.g., electrochemical and paper microfluidics) for rapid monitoring of chemicals and microbiological contaminants and disinfection process during water treatment process. The candidate is welcome to apply with a background or an interest but not limited to biosensors, microfluidics, analytical chemistry, environment science, molecular biology, microbiology and engineering science.

Water contamination with microbial organisms in water systems, including drinking, ground, recreational, and wildlife, is a global issue. The projects will address the global challenges of water quality and contribute to access the safe and clean water which is one the sustainable development goal from world health organisation (WHO), using multidisciplinary including microfluidics, biosensing, chemistry, environmental, and analytical science to nanotechnology and engineering approaches,

In this project, we aim to develop low-cost, deployable biosensor devices (e.g., paper-microfluidics devices and electrochemical sensors) for rapid monitoring of water quality. We will train one PhD student, working within a highly multidisciplinary team from academic and industrial partners (Cranfield, Zimmer & Peacock Ltd and Kersia Ltd) to develop, and transfer advanced sensor technology for rapid monitoring of water quality to provide new understanding on the dynamics and transportation of contaminants and inform mitigation, to help achieve and maintain sustainable health and well-being.

Cranfield University is number one in the UK for training and producing engineering and technology postgraduates. It is one of the top five research-intensive universities in the UK and has an unrivalled reputation for transforming cutting edge technology, management and science into practical, life-enhancing solutions. This research project will be conducted within the Water Science Institute, School of Water, Energy and Environment.

We have recently established an Advanced Sensors Laboratory funded by UKCRIC, and this dedicated laboratory is the centre of the world-class research into sensors and their uses in water and the water industry being conducted at Cranfield. With an impressive legacy in biosensors, Cranfield’s UKCRIC sensors lab continues the University’s work in this area by providing state-of-the-art facilities for chemical, biological and microbial sensors’ development. The advanced sensors group (led by Dr Zhugen Yang) aims to explore multiciliary approach to advance sensor technology and address global challenges in water-environment-health nexus, e.g., our recent work on origami-paper sensors has been featured in Science and London Science Museum.

The outputs of the project will deliver new sensors to quantify the chemical active ingredients of water disinfection (e.g., chlorination units) to monitor long term disinfection, which is expected to demonstrate for the field testing, within the support from industry partner. This will provide a new understanding of the disinfection process and monitoring mechanism, which has a potential for translation as a routine measurement for industry in water sectors.

The student will be widely engaging with a multidisciplinary team to learn advanced sensor technology and interact with stakeholders (including UKRI, academics and industry) to disseminate the research output. The funding supports travel throughout the project to meet with the collaborators, along with opportunities to attend and present results at international conferences (e.g., Biosensors Congress). Cranfield University are leading a UK water and wastewater network, as well as involved water sensors network, involving academic, industrial and public sector organisations; It is expected that the PhD researcher will become involved in this network, enabling the researcher to develop their profile in the sector and engage with experts in related areas.

This PhD opportunity provides the researcher with exposure to working in a large multi-disciplinary project as part of a wider team. The area of research is a rapidly growing area of national importance, and the candidate will have opportunity to engage with both world-class academic and industry; therefore, it is anticipated that this PhD would allow the successful candidate to pursue an exciting career upon completion. The PhD research may also can travel to the collaborator for secondment.

At a glance

  • Application deadline02 May 2023
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date19 Sep 2023
  • Duration of award4 years
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberSWEE0214


Dr Zhugen Yang 

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first- or second-class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. This project would suit students with a background biosensor, microfluidics, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, microbiology or engineering background. 


Sponsored by EPSRC CDT WISER and industry partner (Zimmer & Peacock, Medentech Ltd, /Kersia), this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £18,000 (tax free) plus tuition fees for four years for UK students.

To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK citizen.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

This PhD project is offered as part of the Water-WISER CDT shared between Leeds, Loughborough and Cranfield Universities. All applicants must apply via the University of Leeds application system in the first instance. Shortlisting and interviews will be conducted by a panel of academics from all three universities.

For further information please contact:
Dr Zhugen Yang

T: +44 (0)1234 758082

Our Values

Our shared, stated values help to define who we are and underpin everything we do: Ambition; Impact; Respect; and Community. Find out more here. We aim to create and maintain a culture in which everyone can work and study together and realise their full potential.

Diversity and Inclusion

As an inclusive and diverse doctoral centre, we welcome applications from all highly motivated individuals, regardless of background, identity or disability.