Development of microbial self-powered biosensor for water quality monitoring

This project involves the development of a self-sustainable and cost-effective biosensor for applications in water quality monitoring. Accepted candidates will join a multidisciplinary research group and work with the Departments of Chemical and Process Engineering, Microbial Sciences and Chemistry at the University of Surrey. 

Start date
1 July 2021
3 years
Application deadline
Funding source
The University of Surrey, Project-led Studentship Award.
Funding information

The funding package for this studentship award is as follows:   

  • Full UK/EU tuition fee 
  • Stipend at £15,285 p.a. (2020/21)   
  • RTSG of £1,000 p.a.  
  • Personal Computer (provided by the department) 


We are looking for an enthusiastic and strongly motivated candidate to work on a multidisciplinary PhD project. The project aims to develop a self-sustainable and cost-effective biosensor for applications in water quality monitoring.  

Access to clean water is imperative for the sustainable development of communities. With growing world population and rising environmental pollution, it is essential to develop faster and accurate means of determining and monitoring the water quality. The conventional methods for water quality assessment are time consuming, cumbersome, and expensive, and therefore new methods that can provide faster real-time assessment are being developed. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) represent an innovative technology, in which microorganisms oxidise the biodegradable organic matter in wastewater to produce an electric current. The output from MFC can also be interpreted to get a measure of the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the feed water. As BOD is one of the key parameters for assessing water quality, MFC’S can work as biosensors for BOD measurement, with the added advantage of being self-sustainable.  This project will focus on developing cost effective and operationally stable MFC based biosensors. 

The University is well-equipped for these studies and candidates will be trained in all relevant methods. PhD students will be mentored in the preparation of manuscripts, posters, and presentations and will be encouraged to use faculty funding to attend (international) conferences. The University of Surrey is a short walk from Guildford town centre which lies within the Surrey Hills Area and is 40 mins by train from central London. 

The project supervisory group brings together experts from multiple, distinct fields of research, including chemical engineering, biochemistry, electrochemistry and microbial sciences. Working on this project, will enable the PhD student to develop an interdisciplinary and innovative mind-set, and the capacity to transfer their skills to other scientific fields. 

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must hold a First Class or Upper Second Class (2:1) Degree in Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology or a closely related subject. 

The required qualifications include hands-on experience of safely conducting laboratory experiments, strong communication skills, and excellent analytical and problem-solving skills. 

Previous practical experience in microbiological techniques (e.g. cell culturing) and knowledge of electrochemistry is desirable, but not essential. 

Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact Dr Siddharth Gadkari directly for further details. 

This studentship is available for UK and EU students only. 

IELTS requirements: If English is not your first language, you will be required to have an IELTS Academic of 6.5 or above (or equivalent), with no sub-test score below 6.   

How to apply

Applications should be sent through the PhD Chemical and Process Engineering course page.

Please note the title of the project you are applying to in your application.  

Application deadline

Contact details

Siddharth Gadkari
24 BC 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 682676

Water Processing Technology

Dr Siddharth Gadkari


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