PhD studentship: Investigating Collection Techniques for Airborne Human DNA


  • Qualification type: PhD
  • Subject area: Investigating Collection Techniques for Airborne Human DNA
  • Location/Campus: College Lane Campus, Hatfield
  • Start date: June 2024
  • Closing application date: 12 April 2024
  • Duration: 3 years, full-time

Project outline

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is found in biological materials shed from living creatures in their natural surroundings. DNA can be collected from a range of environments including soil, water, and air. Collecting eDNA from air is both challenging and exciting because of the multiple unknowns and the research opportunities they present. This project seeks to explore the use of aerosol collection technologies for sampling airborne eDNA of human origin. This will involve developing and conducting experiments to collect bioaerosol samples using commercially available and prototype electrostatic and filter-based aerosol collection instruments and to use molecular diagnostic techniques including PCR and Next Generation Sequencing NGS to qualify and quantify the collected eDNA. Ethical consideration will be central to work conducted within this project. The findings might lead towards improved systems for monitoring and detecting human eDNA for various applications ranging from advanced healthcare to search-and-rescue capabilities.


Entry requirements


  • A first or upper second-class degree in Engineering, or relevant physical or natural sciences related subject.
  • Ability to work collaboratively and manage time independently to meet deadlines.
  • Excellent oral and written English communication skills.
  • Overseas applicants, for whom English is not their first language, must have an IELTS (English proficiency) score of 6.5 or above.
  • Highly self-motivated to pursue a full-time research programme.
  • Good problem-solving skills and attention to detail.
  • Well organised and ability to work independently.

Desirable (non-essential):

  • A Masters (MSc/MEng) degree or experience relevant to the research project.
  • Experience of experimental methods in science or engineering.
  • A desire to be part of a team exploring multidisciplinary questions in an emerging area of science and engineering.


The studentship is open to UK, EU and International Students (subject to ATAS).

How to apply

Applicants are required to provide the following documents:

  • A completed application form
  • Two academic references
  • Copies of qualification certificates and transcripts
  • Certification of English language competence (minimum IELTS 6.5 or equivalent) for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

Please send completed applications via email to the Doctoral College using the following format in the email subject line: “Investigating Collection Techniques for Airborne DNA”.

You should arrange for your referees to send their reference via email directly to the Doctoral College

Funding information

The award includes tuition fees and a stipend at standard UKRI rates. For 2023-2024 this is set at £18,622. The stipends usually increase annually in line with inflation.