PhD studentship in Aerosolisation Technologies

Programme Description

The University invites applications to join our Hertfordshire Knowledge Exchange Partnership (HKEP) scheme, a 1-year industrial placement followed by a 3-year PhD studentship funded jointly by the European Regional Development Fund, Hertfordshire LEP and Merxin ltd.

Start date: November / December 2019

Duration: 4 years

Company: Merxin Ltd

Stipend: £15,009 per annum plus approved expenses. Students will also receive a maximum contribution towards their individual tuition fees; equivalent to the University’s Home/EU student fee for each year of registration.

The project

Drug delivery to the lungs is changing: Fine and soft mist inhalers (FSMIs) are increasingly replacing propellant-based metered dose and dry powder inhalers. FSMIs use a variety of mechanical principles (e.g. vibrating meshes, impinging microjets) to generate small aerosol droplets and were developed to work with low viscosity aqueous formulations. Non-aqueous formulations for new molecules pose challenges for existing device technologies. In addition, the understanding of aerosolisation mechanisms for high concentration and viscous liquids is limited.

This project will investigate the mechanical and physical processes of droplet generation from FSMI devices of relevance to Merxin’s device portfolio addressing:

  1. The physics and fluid mechanics of droplet generation in thermomechanical and mechanical FSMIs
  2. The energy and aerosolisation requirements for FSMI technologies to match the physicochemical properties of diverse formulations including high viscosity liquids
  3. Develop analytical methods to assess aerosolisation
  4. Creating device prototypes for generation of FSM aerosols, including computational modelling and testing of aerosolisation processes

Supervisor Information

  • Professor Darragh Murnane
  • Dr Laura Urbano
  • Mr. Adam Stuart, Merxin

Candidate specification

We seek an adaptable team worker demonstrating excellent inter-personal and organisational skills. The ability to work on their own initiative at the academic-commercial interface. They will be willing to travel for work at Merxin in King’s Lynn and Hatfield, have excellent written and oral communication skills, and ability to present high quality sensitive academic data.

Essential qualifications and experience:

  1. A minimum of a 2.1 in a relevant undergraduate (BSc, BEng, etc.) qualification from a recognised institution in: Physics; Mechanical, Biomedical, or Chemical Engineering; or a related discipline. Other disciplines may be acceptable provided you meet criteria 3.
  2. Experience of laboratory experimentation for raw data collection and analysis.
  3. Experience of computational modelling of physical and mechanical processes, e.g. fluid flow, fluid mechanics, materials engineering using software (e.g. Python, OpenFoam, Fluent, etc.)
  4. Interest in industrial product development/research


  • A Merit in a relevant Postgraduate (MSc) qualification
  • Industrial/translational experience
  • Experience of analytical sciences
  • Experience of device design/prototyping
  • Proficiency in CAD (preferably using SolidWorks) and CFD

Application process and deadlines

For further information please email .  Applications sent directly to this address will not be accepted.

To apply, please download the application form and send along with qualification certificates and a copy of your passport to:

Deadline: Thursday 31 October with interviews in November.

If you do not receive an invitation to interview, then you have unfortunately been unsuccessful on this occasion.