Research Project Themes
Our research projects are categorised based on the three strategic priorities identified by the BBSRC:
- Agriculture and food security (AFS)
- Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy
- Bioscience for health (MCO-molecules, cells and organisms)
Please click on the headers below to find out more about the strategic priorities and details of the available projects in each area.
Agriculture and Food Security
Currently over 1 billion individuals suffer from chronic malnourishment, while nearly 200 million children are severely underweight. Future environmental pressures will require farming to achieve further advances in resource use. Alongside carbon footprint, ‘energy’, ‘nitrogen’, ‘phosphorus’ and ‘water’ footprints may well become the new farming and food currencies.
Sustainable farming will rely upon multi-disciplinary approaches underpinned by sound science and the skills to translate novel solutions into practice. Reducing water and resource use, enhancing food and fuel output and quality, delivering ecosystem services and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are some of the pressing issues that will need to be tackled. Sensory Science, Brewing Science/Fermentation projects are also included in this research area. Research projects in Agriculture and Food Security within the DTP will focus on studies at the molecular, cellular, whole organism, and population levels to address these issues.
Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy
The future is set for renewable and waste feedstocks to play an increasing role as a source for chemicals and energy production. The University of Nottingham is a global leader in bioenergy, biorenewables and sustainable chemistry, and has a strong focus on solving real-world problems using tools from synthetic biology, in partnership with major fuels and chemicals manufacturers and related industries.
Stem cell biology and tissue engineering are also emerging disciplines within the field of Biotechnolgy, Biofuels and the Bioeconomy. There are important challenges to be overcome in the scale up of production of future cell therapies. A new industry is emerging built on the need to understand how cell therapies can be made at an industrial scale. The BBSRC is playing an important role in the study of fundamental cell biology of stem cells and how differentiation can be controlled to create new classes of biotechnology products. Nottingham has expertise in the production of cardiac, nerve and musculoskeletal cells and works closely with the UK and international industrial community to exploit this basic biological science for industrial applications.
Research project areas
Projects are available across a range of topics and will be supervised by academic staff from a range of disciplines, including biosciences, life sciences, physical sciences and engineering. Project areas include:
- biocatalytic and chemical processing of biomass- and waste-derived feedstocks to produce substitutes for synthetic materials and polymers
- solving problems with product toxicity in microbial fermentations using both biological and process-based approaches
- sustainable bio-based manufacturing processes, including distributed manufacturing
- synthetic biology approaches to manufacture chemicals and biofuels from waste
- stem cell biology and tissue engineering
- sensory science, brewing science/fermentation
Molecules, Cells and Organisms
The molecules, cells and organisms theme of the Nottingham DTP will offer opportunities to PhD students to experience great diversity in their rotational projects; diversity of their working lab as several Schools will be offering rotations in this theme, and diversity of project as there will be representation right across the gamut of molecules to organisms.
Whilst it is almost impossible to list all the scientific areas covered by this theme, there will most likely be projects in the following:
- Control of eukaryotic and prokaryotic gene expression
- Protein folding and structural analysis by NMR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, and other biophysical tools
- Mechanisms of cell-to-cell communication in prokaryotes and eukaryotes
- Intracellular signalling cascades
- Protein:protein and gene:gene interactions
- Membrane receptors and channels
- Cell division
- Developmental biology
- Chemical Biology
- Neuroscience and behaviour
- Tissue Engineering