Heriot-Watt University has now created scholarship opportunities in the School of Engineering & Physical Sciences for 2020.


All applicants must have or expect to have a 1st class MChem, MPhys, MSci, MEng or equivalent degree by Autumn 2020. Selection will be based on academic excellence and research potential, and all short-listed applicants will be interviewed (in person or by Skype). Most of these scholarships are only open to UK/EU applicants and for students who meet residency requirements set out by EPSRC. For some projects, applications may be accepted for exceptional overseas applicants.

Level of Award

There are a number of scholarships available. Generally these offer an annual stipend payment of approx. £15,000 per year and cover fees for between 3 and 3.5 years

Further Information
Synopses and email addresses

EPS2020/01: Classical Force Fields to Model Solid-State Molecular Organometallic Chemistry.

This project is in computational chemistry and will involve the development of new molecular mechanics force fields to model solid-state molecular organometallic chemistry (SMOM-Chem). Applications are in understanding the chemistry of transition metal alkane complexes, their relationship to C-H activation and developing catalytic transformations of alkanes to alkenes and other valuable chemical feedstocks.

Supervisor: Prof Stuart Macgregor, email: s.a.macgregor@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/02: Stereodynamics of Molecular Collisions

You will study the dynamics of inelastic energy transfer and reactive scattering relevant to atmospheric chemistry, combustion or astrochemistry using state-of-the-art experimental and theoretical methods, to determine the underlying mechanisms and improve our understanding of chemical interactions in these important environments.

Supervisor: Prof Matthew Costen, email: m.l.costen@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/03: FLuoroAromatic-Thiol Tags (FLA-SH Tags) as probes to understand protein folding, interactions and dynamics

This project will explore the design, synthesis and optimisation of a new class of biocompatible cysteine-selective fluorinated probes to study protein conformation, dynamics, interactions, (mis-/un) folding and aggregation in real-time at the single molecule level using 19F NMR. This research will help to improve our understanding of why proteins fold and why this can go wrong in disease.

Supervisor: Dr Chris Coxon, email: c.coxon@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/04: Mechanisms and applications of collisions at liquid surfaces

You will study the dynamics of scattering at the gas-liquid interface. You will improve fundamental understanding of mechanisms of collisions at atmospherically relevant surfaces and explore the exploitation of this insight through new methods to probe the surfaces of technologically interesting materials.

Supervisor: Prof Ken McKendrick, email: k.g.mckendrick@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/05: Metastable inorganic materials for energy applications

The project will use low-temperature solvothermal routes to discover new metastable inorganic materials using a phase diagram approach and explore potential applications in energy devices, for example in thermoelectric waste heat recovery. It will involve collaborations with microscopists, physicists and experiments at the UK central neutron and synchrotron X-ray facilities.

Supervisor: Dr Jan-Willem Bos, email: j.w.g.bos@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/06: Computational Photochemical Dynamics of Light Driven Processes

You will use computational and theoretical chemistry approaches to study excited state dynamics. Important photochemistry such as occurring in photodynamic anti-cancer therapies, and photovoltaic devices will be studied. You will work with a wide range of theoretical and experimental collaborators on cutting edge problems that require a more detailed understanding in order to make progress. Powerful theoretical and computational approaches will yield extraordinary detail on the underlying processes at the level of both electrons (via multireference quantum chemistry), and nuclei (via multi-state quantum dynamics).

Supervisor: Prof. Martin Paterson, email: m.j.paterson@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/07: Microfluidics for cellular therapy manufacturing

A key issue for the successful manufacture of cell therapies is high cell loss and damage during processing steps to exchange the solution around cells. We propose a microfluidic solution based on inertial focussing technology.

Supervisor: Dr Helen Bridle, email: h.l.bridle@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/08: Developing streamlined approaches to assessing the systemic and hepatic effects of nanomaterials

Integrated approaches to testing and assessment (IATAs) are under development to assess the hazards of nanomaterials via ingestion, inhalation and dermal application. This project will complement the existing IATAs by developing a streamlined approach to assessing the hazards of nanomaterials that enter blood.

Supervisor: Prof Vicki Stone, email: v.stone@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/09: Design and Fabrication of an In-line Hemolysis Sensor For the Quality Control of Clinical Blood Samples

In this project, the candidate will develop an in-line hemolysis sensor for non-contact measurement into microfluidic cartridges.

Supervisor: Dr Kersaudy-Kerhoas, email: m.kersaudy-kerhoas@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/10: Photoelectron Circular Dichroism as a Chiral Probe

A detailed and systematic investigation probing the spatial asymmetry of photoelectron ejection when chiral molecules of biological significance are ionized using intense femtosecond laser pulses.

Supervisor: Dr Dave Townsend, email: d.townsend@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/11: Time-Resolved Photoelectron Spectroscopy using Hollow-Core Photonic Crystal Fibres

Recent advances in hollow-core photonic crystal fibre technology now permit widely tuneable generation of femtosecond light pulses in the ultraviolet spectral region. This approach will be combined with time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy to study the ultrafast dynamics of non-radiative energy redistribution within the excited states of small, biologically relevant molecules.

Supervisor: Dr Dave Townsend, email: d.townsend@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/12: Ultrafast Transient Absorption Spectroscopy of Photosensitizers in Photodynamic Therapy

Time-resolved spectroscopy with femtosecond laser pulses will be used to investigate the photochemical relaxation of porphyrin molecules relevant to photodynamic therapy following ultraviolet irradiation.

Supervisor: Dr Dave Townsend, email: d.townsend@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/13: Single-photon nonlinearities in microstructured waveguides

With a fast pace in fabrication technologies, we are approaching the regime of enabling single-photon nonlinearities in novel waveguides. We aim to explore this new regime for developing novel photonic applications.

Supervisor: Dr. Mohammed F. Saleh, email: m.saleh@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/14:PhD in experimental quantum networking

A quantum network establishes entanglement between multiple nodes in a network, allowing secure communication over long distance but also distributed quantum computing and more. In this project you will realise photonic quantum networks using large entangled photon states at telecom wavelengths.

Supervisor: Prof Alessandro Fedrizzi, email: a.fedrizzi@hw.ac.uk




EPS2020/15: Next generation nonlinear optics in gas-filled hollow-core fibres

Use advanced ultrafast nonlinear optics in gas-filled hollow-core fibres to create unique light sources for fundamental science, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and the semiconductor industry.

Supervisor: Prof. John Travers, email: j.travers@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/16: Quantum‑Enhanced Imaging

Research on the reconstruction of depth and intensity images from sparse photon measurements at average light levels of less than one photon per pixel.

Supervisor: Professor Gerald S. Buller, email: G.S.Buller@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/17: Next Generation Components for Quantum Communications

Research on next generation quantum technologies including novel quantum information protocols, amplification of exotic quantum states and quantum random number generation

Supervisor: Professor Gerald S. Buller, email: G.S.Buller@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/18: Semiconductor Single‑Photon Detection in the Short-Wave Infrared

Development of new experimental approaches to semiconductor based single‑photon detection via hybrid geometry/material single photon detectors.

Supervisor: Professor Gerald S. Buller, email: G.S.Buller@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/19: 2D material enhanced nonlinear integrated photonics

The project focuses on studying the nonlinear optical properties of numerous 2D materials and how to interface them with low-loss integrated photonics for the creation of novel ultra-fast all-optical devices.

Supervisor: Dr. Marcello Ferrera, email: m.ferrera@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/20: Dynamic wavefront engineering via epsilon-near-zero nonlinearities

By exploiting the remarkable nonlinearities of bulk and nanostructured thin films operating in their epsilon-near-zero frequency window, different device configuration will be explored for the efficient and ultra-fast manipulation of the optical wavefront.

Supervisor: Dr. Marcello Ferrera, email: m.ferrera@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/21: Optimising protocols for quantum-enhanced spin-based magnetometry

Spin-based sensors are a promising platform for nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging. This project is concerned with unlocking their full potential through the exploration and development of quantum control approaches based on Hamiltonian- and machine learning approaches.

Supervisor: Dr Erik Gauger, email: e.gauger@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/22: Bio-inspired quantum-enhanced light harvesting

Bio-inspired nanostructures are ideal candidates for quantum-engineered antennae. This project aims to identify ways of harnessing the interplay of quantum effects and dissipation to underpin next-generation technologies for light-harvesting.

Supervisor: Dr Erik Gauger, email: e.gauger@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/23: Compact polarization imaging system

Polarization of light contains valuable information that is usually absent in colour and intensity. Polarization information can reveal invisible information about natural materials and the condition of artificial structures, but current cameras used to detect it are very bulky and expensive due to the involvement of moving parts. Flat optics has provided new direction for camera technology with unprecedented compactness, which can be used in many research fields such as facial recognition, remote sensing and machine vision. This project will concentrate on the design, fabrication, system integration and image processing for polarization imaging.

Supervisor: Dr Xianzhong Chen, email: x.chen@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/24: Flat Optics for System Integration

Flat optics has provided new opportunities for the development of ultrathin devices with unusual functionalities, which are ideal for device miniaturization and system integration. This project will concentrate on the simultaneous control of phase and polarisation at subwavelength scales and develop novel devices for new applications (e.g., quantum entanglement, optical tweezers).

Supervisor: Dr Xianzhong Chen, email: x.chen@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/25: Developing new concepts and novel optical devices

The candidate will explore the novel optical properties of various nanostructures based on metals (e.g., gold and silver) and dielectrics (e.g., amorphous silicon, titanium dioxide). Based on their optical properties, the nanostructures will be used for producing novel photonic devices such as ultrathin optical devices with unusual functionalities.

Supervisor: Dr Xianzhong Chen, email: x.chen@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/26: Free-space quantum communication technology.

The use of free-space optical links rather than optical-fibre for quantum communications offers a range of new applications. During this PhD, the student will investigate the use of satellites, aerial platforms, and static links for quantum communications.

Supervisor: Dr Ross Donaldson, email: R.Donaldson@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/27: Twisted Quantum Heterostructures

Two-dimensional moiré spin and exciton lattices will be engineered and investigated for applications in quantum simulators and quantum photonics.

Supervisor: Prof. Brian Gerardot, email: b.d.gerardot@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/28: A Scalable and Coherent Semiconductor Spin-Photon Interface

Scalability is an outstanding challenge in semiconductor quantum technologies. This project aims to address this by realizing small nodes of coherent spin-photon interfaces.

Supervisor: Prof. Brian Gerardot, email: b.d.gerardot@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/29: Multi-mode sensors for monitoring physical changes in tissue as an indicator of biological conditions

Physiological changes that occur in the body are often accompanied by a biological marker of disease which is identified via a blood sample for diagnosis. However, single blood samples are not suited to continuous monitoring and are not suited to remote monitoring. In this project, we want to investigate how we can combine several modes of biological measurement by developing a simple microfabricated device. This will include pressure sensing, electrical sensing and optical sensing, which will be suited to those with an undergraduate engineering (or equivalent) background.

Supervisor: Dr Michael Crichton, email: m.crichton@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/30: MyFemur: Multiscale modelling from clinical image to personalised model to manufacture

Our vision in this project is to create a computational framework for the proximal femur that can allow clinicians to take limited clinical imaging data, e.g. single X-rays, and quickly generate bone strength analyses or custom implants suited to individual patients. The framework can become an integral part of the patient record simplifying monitoring and tailoring of treatments.

Supervisor: Dr Uwe Wolfram, email: u.wolfram@hw.ac.uk



EPS2020/31: Crumbling reefs: Simulation based monitoring of coral reefs

The project aims to develop computational models to analyse the impact of ocean acidification on cold-water coral reefs. Results will be used in the development of monitoring strategies to preserve some of the most vulnerable ecosystems.

Supervisor: Dr Uwe Wolfram, email: u.wolfram@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/32: Model development and simulation of novel processes for CO2 direct air capture from the atmosphere

Mathematical/numerical modelling of cyclic adsorption-desorption processes for direct air capture of CO2. Process design and simulation.

Supervisor: Dr. Mijndert van der Spek, email: M.van_der_spek@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/33: Development of catalytic membrane microreactors for biorefining

In this project, we aim to produce high value chemical intermediates from biomass by catalytic transformations using catalytic composite membrane microreactors for process intensification.

Supervisor: Dr. Aimaro Sanna, email: A.Sanna@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/34: Personalised Intelligent Mobile Emergency Response through Crowd Shaping - helping people helping themselves and each other

To establish a formal framework to create an innovative formal foundation to enable the creation of intelligence safety instrumented systems that can be used to support emergency response missions via crowd sourcing and crowd shaping.

Supervisor: Dr. Theo Lim, email: T.Lim@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/35: Magnetic molecular imprinted polymers (MMIP) for detecting biohazard pollutants.

This project is aimed to develop MMIP for binding and detecting harmful biomolecules in the environment.

Supervisor: Dr. Humphrey Yiu, email: h.h.yiu@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/36: Polymer-based co-delivery agent for antibiotics.

This project is aimed to develop biodegradable polymer materials for the co-delivery of antibiotics.

Supervisor: Dr. Humphrey Yiu, email: h.h.yiu@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/37: Functional nanoparticles for plant systems.

This project is aimed to develop nanoparticle-based reagent for delivery of bioactive molecules to plants.

Supervisor: Dr. Humphrey Yiu, email: h.h.yiu@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/38: Advanced RF device technologies for global wireless networks

The project aims to develop new concepts and novel designs of RF front-end components deploying emerging material and manufacturing technologies for global wireless networks.

Supervisor: Prof. J. Hong, email: J.Hong@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/39: Information Extraction from Scientific Texts to support Nature-Inspired Engineering


Nature has inspired various highly innovative engineering solutions, such as Velcro, the Japanese bullet train and others. Solving engineering problems using Nature requires however specific and interdisciplinary domain knowledge. Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools will be used to support engineers during the retrieval, filtering and processing of scientific biology texts.

Supervisor: Prof. Marc Desmulliez, email: m.desmulliez@hw.ac.uk



EPS2020/40: Computational imaging: Multi-Sensors Fusion for High Resolution 3D Lidar videos

Computational imaging, Statistical signal and Image processing, Bayesian methods.

Supervisor: Dr Abderrahim Halimi, email: a.halimi@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/41: Approximate Bayesian methods for large scale imaging problems

This project consists of investigating new approximate Bayesian methods for fast and robust estimation in high dimensional problem. The methods to be developed will be applied to imaging and sensing problems in low-illumination settings.

Supervisor: Dr Yoann Altmann, email: Y.Altmann@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/42: Integrated Safety Compliant Edge Robotics (ISCER)

The future potential of robotic platforms will be delivered when there is trust and value in the support and services they provide. To achieve this we propose a symbiotic partnership between infrastructure, robots and humans via integration within a run-time architecture assist with digital tools, that delivers safety compliance and self-certification.

Supervisor: Professor David Flynn, email: d.flynn@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/43: Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES)

The future potential of critical energy infrastructure is the integration of smart local energy systems (SLES). SLES will be tailored to the needs of the community in order to optimise the cost, resilience and low carbon attributes the climate emergency demands. This PhD will develop new computational modelling techniques to capture the dynamics between SLES and national infrastructure, as well as the specific relationships within these multi-vector systems.

Supervisor: Professor David Flynn, email: d.flynn@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/44: Nature Inspired Surgical Tools

The stings of insects provide a wealth of information on how to design and manufacture better cutting surgical tools. By close examination of specimen obtained from museums, lessons from the profiles of stings of insects will be applied towards the manufacture and tests of novel surgical blades.

Supervisor: Prof. Marc Desmulliez, email: m.desmulliez@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/45: Machine Learning Solutions for Intelligent Reflecting Surface-Aided Secure Communications

This project will investigate machine learning enabled security solutions in a programmable radio environment using intelligent reflecting surfaces for next generation wireless communication systems.

Supervisor: Dr. Muhammad Khandaker, email: m.khandaker@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/46: Biorefining of seafood processing waste

Waste from the processing of fish or shellfish contains a range of valuable co-products (including proteins, oil, carotenoids, carbohydrates and minerals). This project will assess the feasibility of the extraction of valuable by-products in an integrated biorefining approach.

Supervisor: Professor Stephen Euston, email: S.R.Euston@hw.ac.uk



EPS2020/47: Smart Local Energy Systems

The project focuses on system level scale-up of smart local energy systems.

Supervisor: Prof Mercedes Maroto-Valer, email: m.maroto-valer@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/48: Flow in porous media

Reactive flow in porous media (experimental studies and/or numerical simulations) of manufactures porous replicas.

Supervisor: Prof Mercedes Maroto-Valer, email: m.maroto-valer@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/49: Compressible Turbulence Models from Transformed Navier-Stokes Equation Perspectives

High speed flow aerodynamics rely on the fundamental understanding of compressible gas dynamics. This project involves constructing new compressible turbulence flow theory using continuum flow equations beyond the classical Navier-Stokes conventional model.

Supervisor: Dr. S Kokou Dadzie, email: k.dadzie@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/50: Process-informed design of materials for carbon capture

The project aims to integrate the design of novel materials with process design for energy-efficient carbon capture processes.

Supervisor: Dr Susana Garcia, email: s.garcia@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/51: Design of multifunctional Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs)-based materials for carbon capture and photocatalytic conversion

The project aims to design novel multifunctional materials that can capture carbon and convert it to a valuable chemical or fuel.

Supervisor: Dr Susana Garcia, email: s.garcia@hw.ac.uk


EPS2020/52: Modelling growth, deposition and breakage of dynamic particle structures.

Investigation of the structure of cohesive powders under various flow regimes. Combining AI driven tools with state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and discrete element methods (DEM), we will look into how dynamic particle structures form in complex systems: how clusters appear, deposit and evolve by a continuous interplay of consolidation and breakage.

Supervisor: Dr Victor Francia, email: v.francia@hw.ac.uk

How to Apply

1. Important Information before you Apply

When applying through the Heriot-Watt on-line system please ensure you provide the following information:

(a) in 'Study Option'

You will need to select 'Edinburgh' and 'Postgraduate Research'. 'Programme' presents you with a drop-down menu. Choose Chemistry PhD, Physics PhD, Chemical Engineering PhD, Mechanical Engineering PhD, Bio-science & Bio-Engineering PhD or Electrical PhD as appropriate and select September 2020 for study option (this can be updated at a later date if required)


(b) in 'Research Project Information'

You will be provided with a free text box for details of your research project. Enter Title and Reference number of the project for which you are applying and also enter the potential supervisor's name.


This information will greatly assist us in tracking your application.


Please note that once you have submitted your application, it will not be considered until you have uploaded your CV and transcripts.

2. Applications

Applications must be made through the Heriot-Watt on-line application system, https://www.hw.ac.uk/study/apply/uk/postgraduate.htm

3. Closing Date

All applications must be received by Friday 28th February 2020. All successful candidates will usually be expected to commence their studies in September/October 2020