School of Biosciences

Join us in our journey of discovery

Current PhD opportunities:

Kent Health Trust studentship, deadline for applications 17 March 2017

Project to Develop and Characterise a series of Novel Antimicrobial Agents

Supervisor/s:Dr Dan Mulvihill / Dr Jennifer Hiscock

A funded PhD position is available in the interdisciplinary field of novel antimicrobial design and development.
The aim of the project is to optimise our new class of antimicrobial compounds through; (i) assessing their antimicrobial activity against clinically relevant bacteria; (ii) exploring the compounds toxicity towards mammalian cells and tissues; (iii) studying the localisation and interactions of these compounds towards both microbial and eukaryote cells; (iv) and working towards developing a number of key compounds that can be taken into mammalian trials.

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Kent's main campus in Canterbury, and work under the supervision of Dr Dan Mulvihill and Dr Jennifer Hiscock (University of Kent), with co-supervision by Dr Claire Peppiatt-Wildman (University of Kent) and Dr Matthew Strutt (Consultant Microbiologist). The candidate will have the unique opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team capable of guiding this project through to Phase 1 clinical trials. They will gain experience in compound design, chemical synthesis, molecular-cell biology & live-cell imaging techniques, antimicrobial screening techniques, toxicity screening techniques and biophysical compound characterization.
This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2017.

Entry requirements and Funding: Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology or a related subject. The Kent Health Studentship will be offered at the standard UK Research Councils' rate (currently £14,296; to cover living costs) and will additionally cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate (currently £4,121 per annum).  This scholarship is available to both UK and EU nationals.

For further information please contact Dr Dan Mulvihill, Email: or Dr Jennifer Hiscock, Email:

How to Apply: To apply please go to:
You will need to apply through the online application form on the main University website. Please note that you will be expected to provide personal details, education and employment history and supporting documentation (Curriculum Vitae, transcript of results, two academic references).
Deadline Date for Applications: 17/03/2017
Interviews will take place in week commencing: 03/04/2017


Graduate Teaching Assistantships, deadline for applications 31 January 2017

New-generation Chlamydomonas cell factories

Supervisor/s: Prof Colin Robinson, Prof Martin Warren

Project Description and Outcomes: The unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is a potentially important platform for the production of high-value products, partly because it can grow phototrophically and partly because it is effectively a miniature plant that is able to carry out many plant-specific pathways. However, it has yet to enter mainstream use because to date, products are not made in economically-viable quantities. This project aims to develop new strains that have the capacity to produce high-value compounds, including terpenoids, in large quantities. Sesquiterpenenes (C15) and diterpenoids (C20) include a massive range of high-value products such as artemisinin, stevioside and a series of anticancer compounds such as ingenol-angelate. The building blocks are naturally made in chloroplasts, making this compartment ideal for the production of these compounds, and it has been shown that the key cytochrome P450 enzymes can be expressed in the chloroplast and driven directly by ferredoxin, which is present in large quantities. We have transformed the chloroplast genome of C. reinhardtii with a gene encoding cis-abienol synthase and have shown that the cells produce cis-abienol (an important component in the fragrance industry) is reasonable quantities. We also expressed a P450 in a highly active form.
The main aim of this project is to build on this work to produce a range of high-value terpenoids and other products in the C. reinhardtii chloroplast. Pathways for medically- and biotechnologically-relevant chemicals will be expressed in transformed strains and tested together with our collaborators in the University of Copenhagen and AlgaeCytes Ltd.
Together with the Warren group, we will aim to enhance these strains still further by producing key enzymes on scaffolds based on bacterial microcompartments (BMCs). The Warren group has shown that expression of 5 Pdu BMC proteins in E. coli generates empty 'shells' but mutated variants of the PduA shell protein alone produce remarkable lattices that are potentially ideal as scaffolds for the attachment of enzymes or pathways. We will attach biosynthetic enzymes to such scaffolds and produce high-density enzyme arrays to enhance pathway flux.


Zedler, J.A.Z., Gangl, D., Hamberger, B. , Purton, S., and Robinson, C. (2014). Stable Expression of a Bifunctional Diterpene Synthase in the Chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. J. Appl. Phycol. DOI 10.1007/s10811-014-0504-2.

Gangl, D., Zedler, J.A.Z., Wlodarczyk, A., Jensen, P-E., Purton, S., and Robinson, C. (2015). Expression and membrane-targeting of an active plant Cytochrome P450 in the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii chloroplast genome. Phytochemistry 110:22-28.

Gangl, D., Zedler, J.A.Z., Rajakumar, P.D., Martinez, E.M.R., Riseley, A., Wlodarczyk, A., Purton, S., Sakuragi, Y., Howe, C.J., Jensen, P.E. and Robinson, C. (2015). Biotechnological exploitation of microalgae. J. Exp. Bot. 66, 6975-6990.

Zedler, J.A.Z., Gangl, D., Guerra, T., Santos, E., Verdelho, V.V. and Robinson, C. (2016). Pilot-scale cultivation of wall deficient transgenic Chlamydomonas reinhardtii strains expressing recombinant proteins in the chloroplast. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. (in press).

The Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) provides a postgraduate research student with financial support in return for 96 hours per year of teaching. The stipend paid equals the full UK Research Council rate of £14,296 (rate for 2016/17) plus tuition fees at the home/EU rate. International applicants should make provision to meet the difference between Home /EU and International fees.
For further information on the Graduate Teaching Assistantship scheme go to:

Applications for Postgraduate study should be made via the University's online application page::









Enquiries: Phone: +44 (0)1227 823743

School of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NJ

Last Updated: 09/02/2017