EPSRC Future Opportunities Fund

The University of Bristol is delighted to announce an exciting opportunity for excellent scientists and engineers who wish to pursue a PhD in an exciting area of research. In partnership with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), there are seven new studentship positions supporting postgraduate cross-disciplinary research on the frontlines of Science and Engineering.

These are in the following research areas: Cybersecurity; Digital Innovation; Natural Hazards; and Synthetic Biology.

The positions for this award have all been filled and the EPSRC Future Opportunities Fund is now closed to further applications.


Cybersecurity is concerned with the protection of data, software, networks and hardware against disruption and misappropriation. It is an emerging area of research that has acquired critical national and international importance. It is also a broad and exciting field, covering a range of overlapping disciplines in pure mathematics, statistics and computer science. Available opportunities include cross-disciplinary projects and joint studentships with the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research. Positions will remain open until filled.

Contact: cyber-phd@bristol.ac.uk

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Digital Innovations: the knowledge-based Internet

The growing complexity of Internet, the resultant data explosion, and the deployment of Internet of Things technologies, have all significantly increased the need for smart coordination, configuration and control of various elements of the global communications network. Knowledge-based networking, leveraging on machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, opens up new opportunities for solving emerging and critical problems of the current Internet. This theme aims to investigate, design and implement knowledge based solutions for the future Internet. These PhDs will provide the opportunity for implementation and demonstration of the outcomes on real-life network infrastructures including Smart Cities (Bristol Is Open) and open Internet of Things platforms (IoTUK initiative).

Contact: Dr. Reza Nejabati (reza.nejabati@bristol.ac.uk) or Professor Dimitra Semeonidou (Dimitra.simeonidou@bristol.ac.uk)

Further info: see our High Performance Networks Group and Smart Internet Lab websites.

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Digital Innovations: computational behaviour analysis of social interactions

Digital technologies allow us to perform activity recognition for a patient using machine learning. These activities provide a good proxy for the characterisation of the patient’s lifestyle over time - for example, what does a typical day consist of, what times and how many times are particular activities performed? This project will focus on the analysis of the interaction between individuals living in the same house. We conjecture that by identifying behavioural patterns in these sets of sequences of activities, we will be able to understand how the participant's mental health affects their social behaviour and vice versa. This will require sophisticated behavioural analysis and machine learning algorithms that do not currently exist.

Contact: Dr. Raul Santos-Rodriguez (enrsr@bristol.ac.uk)

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Natural Hazards: Seismic

Anthropogenic earthquakes pose a rapidly increasing threat to society, infrastructure and the energy sector. Currently, neither the physics nor the expected hazard levels of induced seismicity are well understood. This cross-faculty PhD project will assess differences between induced and tectonic earthquakes in terms of source properties and ground motions. The aim is to exploit a better understanding of the mechanics and shaking for risk assessments of induced seismic hazard. The candidate will benefit from rare access to high-quality industry data sets and exceptionally broad expertise from earthquake nucleation to building response to shaking.

Contact: Dr. Max Werner (Max.werner@bristol.ac.uk)

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Natural Hazards: Water

Our environment is changing rapidly due to climate change, land management and other human impacts. These changes have significant, but poorly understood, implications for the water cycle. This problem is especially acute for hydrologic hazards (floods and droughts), where our understanding regarding how catchments will respond to more extreme weather patterns, or how land management will impact their response, is quite poor. The cross-faculty PhD project will work on reducing this uncertainty by improving the process basis of current models of hydrologic extremes. The candidate will benefit from a tremendous depth of hydrologic research across the engineering and sciences faculties.

Contact: Professor Thorsten Wagener (thorsten.wagener@bristol.ac.uk)

Further info: see the Bristol's Water Initiative website.

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Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology is new research approach which inhabits the frontier between Engineering, Physical and Life Science, specifically the rational design or redesign of living things and their components. This emerging and dynamic field has the potential to provide solutions to some of the key challenges faced by society, including those in healthcare, energy and the environment. PhD subject areas within this theme can include design and engineering of biological molecules and systems, for example, gene expression control, gene circuits, genome engineering, protein design and engineering, engineering organisms, engineering living cells, and minimal genomes.

Contact: synbio-cdt@bristol.ac.uk

Further info: see BrisSynBio, our BBSRC / EPSRC funded Synthetic Biology Centre.

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Essential Information

  • Funding is available immediately for a duration of 3.5 years

  • The studentships provide UK/EU tuition fees and the standard RCUK stipend, currently £14,296 pa (EPSRC eligibility criteria apply)

  • Studentships are tenable from September 2017. Earlier or later start dates may be possible by mutual agreement

  • The positions for this award have all been filled and the EPSRC Future Opportunities Fund is now closed to further applications.

For the full terms & conditions, and for further information on eligibility criteria, please see the EPSRC website.

Why choose Bristol?

I am very impressed with the research culture at Bristol - I do feel that there is an enthusiasm in the air for research, which is very infectious indeed.

PRES comment 2015

Alongside the supervisor, successful candidates will be supported by an exciting interdisciplinary community. The resources of the Bristol Doctoral College, specifically the Personal and Professional Development Programme, will be available to all successful candidates.

Any questions?

If you have any questions, you can contact a member of staff about the EPSRC Future Opportunities Fund.

Please email us: doctoral-college@bristol.ac.uk.