PhD Studentship University of Nottingham Fully-funded

The University of Nottingham, UK is inviting excellent students to apply for a PhD position in mathematics. This position is available for 4 years. The deadline for applying is November 30, 2018.

NPIF: Data driven enzyme design for bioprocess applications: New approaches to 3-D structure and property analysis

Optimisation of enzyme catalysis for cost-effective biocatalysis in industrial settings presents challenges; enzymes must be stable to process conditions, possess sufficient catalytic activity to produce enough turnover to be cost-effective, and be able to accept appropriate substrates - whether these are a diverse range of substrates, or sufficient specificity for a particular novel substrate. Rational improvement of enzyme function relies on either generating or accessing enzyme variants that have improved properties, and this can be heavily facilitated by taking a holistic approach for entire families that employs AI/Data Driven approaches. In particular, computational approaches can significantly increase the rate at which new variations can be screened, maximising the effective use of expensive experimental resources.

This project will use a combination of statistical and machine learning pattern analysis to develop a structure-based methodology underpinned by comprehensive large-scale homology-modelled data-sets, and combines computational chemistry, statistical modelling, including Bayesian methods, and specific techniques such as molecular dynamics simulations, quantum mechanical calculations, and mathematical data classification.. The focus will be on a superfamily of particularly challenging enzymes: the Radical SAM (rSAM) enzymes, and how these enzymes can be rationally improved to meet industrial requirements. Many rSAM enzymes show poor industrial parameters, yet isolated and characterised natural rSAMs have been shown to overcome these limitations - thus engineering to improve properties is feasible.

The project strongly benefits from the industrial input of VideraBio (, leaders in disruptive bioprocess development, and includes an integrated three-month placement. It is supported by the National Productivity Investment Fund and the BBSRC.

The supervisory team will be Dr Anna Croft and Dr Christof Jaeger (Chemical and Environmental Engineering) with Dr Chris Falliaze, Dr Yves van Gennip and Dr Chris Brignall (Mathematics) at the University of Nottingham. The University of Nottingham and Faculty of Engineering both hold Athena Swan Silver and are committed to ensuring a fair and healthy working culture.

Applicants must have or be expected to obtain at least a 2:1 degree in a relevant subject. This studentship is only available to UK or EU citizens meeting BBSRC residency requirements and is fully funded at the Standard Research Council stipend rates for 4 years (currently fees plus a stipend of around 14,777 p/a). UK/EU students not meeting the residency requirements will be eligible for a fees-only studentship. Candidates will be expected to start in October 2018, or as soon as possible thereafter, and before December 31st 2018.

Applications should be in the form of a detailed CV and a covering letter. The CV should contain the names and contacts (including email addresses) of two referees, and the type, class and grade (or that predicted) of your degree. Please send applications and enquiries to Dr Anna Croft, quoting the studentship reference.


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