Annually ~6.3 million tonnes of acrylic acid, with a global market of $12 billion, is industrially synthesised from propylene (a fossil fuel derivative) as a platform chemical for e.g textiles, adhesives, paints. To date, biosynthetic alternatives are too costly or inefficient for the industry. This PhD aims to reduce carbon emissions from acrylic acid production by developing a cost-effective microbial biosynthetic route from algal waste. With industrial partner Caledonian Seaweeds Ltd. (CalSea), this PhD provides multidisciplinary training, the environment and award-winning pilot work for the student to build upon and develop/optimise our unique Intellectual Property (IP) for the industry. On top of this, this successful applicant will conduct an industrial placement at CalSea.
You will be trained in molecular genetics to generate proprietary microbial strains with enhanced bio-acrylic acid production from abundant metabolites present in farmed macroalgae. The student will learn analytical chemistry techniques, e.g. chromatography and mass spectroscopy, to quantify the production of this high-value chemical. They will investigate growth conditions in batch and ultimately in bioreactor settings that optimise bio-acrylic acid production by the strains they generate. Furthermore, you will devise, test, and optimise a method for acrylic acid extraction from the cultured strains. Finally, throughout the PhD, the student will be encouraged to interact with industry to explore routes to market for the IP they develop.
You will receive exceptional training at UEA and CalSea in molecular biology, fermentation, analytical and organic chemistry, coastal fieldwork, industrial networking and in writing publications and IP protection. You will learn good laboratory practice, present your findings at weekly team meetings, high-profile international scientific conferences, and in peer-reviewed scientific publications and your PhD thesis.
The Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) is open to the UK and international candidates for entry in October 2022 and offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4-year PhD research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP CASE students undertake a three to 18-month placement with a non-academic partner during their study. The placement offers an experience designed to enhance professional development. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.
This project has been shortlisted for funding by the NRPDTP. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on Tuesday 25th January, Wednesday 26th January and Thursday 27th January 2022.
You can visit the Norwich Research Park Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership pages for further information on eligibility and how to apply.
Our partners value diverse and inclusive work environments that are positive and supportive. Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.