PhD studentship ‘Modelling of Light Scattering by Airborne Particles’

Programme Description

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship at the Centre for Atmospheric Physics and Climate Research, School for Physics Astronomy and Mathematics, University of Hertfordshire, UK.

Start date: October 2019

Duration: 3.5 years programme at the University of Hertfordshire in collaboration with the Met Office.

Stipend: Starts at £15,009 in year-1, plus Met Office CASE award and approved expenses. All students will also receive a maximum contribution towards their individual tuition fees that is equivalent to the Home/EU student fee in each year of registration.

The project

The Light Scattering and Radiative Properties group specializes in the interaction between atmospheric particles, such as cirrus ice crystals, and solar radiation, and the significant impact these particles play in global climate.

Exact methods for calculating single particle scattering properties, like the discrete dipole approximation and T-matrix, are only applicable up to certain size parameters, which is due to the high computational demand. At University of Hertfordshire we have been developing physical optics models which help to bridge the gap between the applicability of exact electromagnetic methods and geometric optics.

This project aims to expand the applicability of these methods to more complex particle shapes, including surface roughness, and smaller size parameters. Our physical optics models are used to compute single particle scattering parameters which serve as input for radiative transfer calculations. They also assist the interpretation of observational light scattering data, e.g. from the Small Ice Detector (SID) instruments developed at the Centre for Atmospheric Physics and Climate Research. There are opportunities to combine the physical optics modelling work with laboratory and field work.

Under the guidance of our partners at the Met Office, the student will learn how clouds and aerosols are represented in global-climate models, and gain insight into the multi-faceted role of clouds and aerosols in the Earth’s climate. They will use the Met Office Unified Model to study the sensitivity of climate to the representation of scattering characteristics of clouds and aerosols.

Supervisor information

  • Dr Evelyn Hesse, University of Hertfordshire
  • Prof Joseph Ulanowski, University of Hertfordshire
  • Dr Kalli Furtado, Met Office


Applicants should hold a good first degree (equivalent to at least UK 2:1 honours) in physics, mathematics or a related discipline. A good knowledge of optics and a strong mathematical and/or computational background would be of advantage. The studentship is subject to UK/EU residency eligibility.


The closing date for applications is September 8th 2019.

Application process

Informal enquires should be addressed to Dr Evelyn Hesse at

To apply for the studentship please complete the application form, and email it with a copy of your CV to You should provide the title of the PhD project in the subject line of the email.