PhD Studentship Single-molecule Dynamics of Supramolecular Hydrogels

A new opening PhD position in biophysics is available at University of Cambridge, UK. Applications are welcome before January 20, 2020.

A 4-year PhD studentship is available starting in April or October 2020 to work on a multidisciplinary project jointly supervised by Professor Oren Scherman and Dr Steven Lee.

Supramolecular hydrogels have attracted significant interest in recent years on account of their excellent physical and mechanical properties such as self-healing, shear-thinning and stimuli responsiveness. These properties make them ideal for applications in biomaterials, sustainable science and sensing. The material properties are highly dependent on the dynamic characteristics of the physical cross-links. Currently few fundamental studies have been undertaken to quantitatively describe structure-property relationships for these types of systems.

The goal of this exciting project is to combine super-resolution and single-molecule fluorescence imaging in combination with rheology to study and characterise the dynamics of supramolecular hydrogels. The information gained will unlock the ability to deconvolute single molecule physical cross-links from polymer chain entanglement in contribution to the resultant material properties.

Looking onwards, using the fundamental insight gained from this research, a set of key parameters can be determined to maximize the potential of supramolecular biocompatible hydrogels through precise tuning of physical properties.

The project will require a multi-disciplinary approach across the areas of photophysics, supramolecular and materials chemistry as well as super-resolution microscopy. Candidates must have strong motivation to work across disciplines and a desire to learn a range of skills from traditional organic and polymer synthesis to supramolecular chemistry as well as modelling and kinetic analysis of single-molecule fluorescence data.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) the equivalent of a UK first class or upper second-class honors degree (and preferably a MSc or equivalent degree) in chemistry or other relevant discipline. Applicants with experience in biophysics, physical chemistry, optics, photonics or related disciplines will also be considered. Experience with single-molecule fluorescence techniques, hardware automation and programming (ImageJ, MATLAB, etc.) would be advantageous. Candidates should have a keen interest in applying physical methods to complex systems and enjoy working in a highly multidisciplinary, dynamic and collaborative environment.

In order to be considered for this studentship, applicants should contact both Professor Oren Scherman (email: and Dr Steven Lee (email: directly before submitting a formal application. Applications should be e-mailed in the form of a single pdf file (less than 2MB), and should include a cover letter highlighting what you can bring to the project, your CV, detailed academic transcripts and the contact details for two academic referees.


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