Independently funded Research Topics

An indicative list of topics within selected research areas is listed below. These are self-funded projects; students are required to bring their own scholarships, or fund the PhD study themselves. You can apply online for these projects.

Please check back regularly for updates or contact for a detailed discussion about available topics.

If you have a specific research project in mind which is not listed, please contact Research and Innovation Services to discuss this further.

Alternatively, you can view details of current funded opportunities here.

Search for topics

45 available projects
Title Director of study Institute

UK Shale Characterisation – Application in Hydraulic Fracturing

There is significant amounts of natural gas stored in thick (up to 900 m) underground layers of shale in the central and northern parts of the UK. Despite advances in production of shale gas using hydraulic fracturing technique in the USA, extraction of shale gas is at very early stages in the UK. Therefore, the topic is of great significance for energy security and economic growth in the UK and worldwide. We propose a comprehensive study of the characteristics of UK shale from mineralogical, mechanical, structural, and petrophysical point of view. We aim to use advanced techniques such as X-ray nano-tomography, Helium ion microscopy, and X-ray diffraction to study shale samples from the UK. This research will address the existing gap in what is known about UK shale, which is of significant interest for planning future hydraulic fracturing projects.The research will use state-of-the-art laboratories at Teesside University and Newcastle University.

Dr. Tannaz Pak Digital Futures Institute

Enhanced Oil Recovery using Nanotechnology – Experimental Investigation

It is well-established that much of the easy-to-produce oil has already been recovered worldwide. There is, therefore, an increasing need for developing modern technologies to enhance recovery of the remaining oil. This research aims to provide solutions for optimising nanoparticle-based enhanced oil recovery. We will investigate the dynamics of nanoparticle-enhanced fluid displacement in sandstones and carbonates, at pore-scale, i.e. micro-meter scale. A range of nanoparticles will be studied to establish the effect of nanoparticle type, size, concentration, and surface coating on the oil recovery efficiency. In addition, the synergy between surfactants and nanoparticles will be studied. The student will use a range of state-of-the-art experimental techniques, specifically, core flooding and X-ray micro-tomography imaging (bench-top and possibly synchrotron imaging). The research will mainly take place at the newly established Petroleum Engineering laboratories at Teesside University.

Dr. Tannaz Pak Digital Futures Institute

Application of Combined Techniques of Low Salinity Water Flooding with Nano Fluids to Improve Oil Recovery in Oil –Wet Fractured Carbonate Reservoirs

Low salinity water flooding (LSWF) is one such modified application of traditional water flooding techniques. Field tests and core-flooding experiments have verified that LSWF improves the oil recovery process by 5%–38% more than that by traditional water flooding techniques.

Most of the previous studies have been carried out on sandstone reservoirs and few if any on carbonate reservoirs. The main reason could be due to poor performance of water flooding in fractured oil-wet carbonate reservoirs. In fact presence of fractures hinder the effect of low salinity for such hydrocarbon reservoir system. In order to improve the effect of low salinity water flooding in carbonate reservoirs, it is possible to combine this technique with other existing technique such as Nano fluids as the former technique may diminish the loss of low salinity flow in fracture network and direct the flow towards matrix system where the hydrocarbon is trapped in by capillary forces. To achieve the objectives of this project, the interaction between oil/water/nano-fluids and rock should be well addressed, using systematic laboratory studies under controlled conditions.

Dr Sina Rezaei-Gomari Technology Futures Institute

Optimizing the Hydraulic Fracturing Performance while Minimizing its Environmental Impacts

In recent years, hydraulic fracturing has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to its ability to unlock vast reserves of unconventional resources in North America. Hydraulic fracturing however has got environmental impacts and needs to be regulated to minimise environmental hazards.

The fracking business model in the UK differs quite greatly from the ones used in North America. Very different elements such as land regulations, community’s perception, geographical features, and availability of expert contractors play roles to make it more complicated in the UK.

The main question to be answered in this project is: Is it possible to have fracking advantages while minimizing environmental impacts?

Using advanced engineering methodologies and studies, one can identify ‘sweet spots’, and optimize the required fracking jobs in order to maximize gas extraction from unconventional resources while considering minimum environmental impacts. This project introduces smart techniques in identifying the appropriate spots for hydraulic fracturing jobs in terms of fracture location, fracture orientation, as well as fracture length, and its stability against overburden pressure. The ultimate aim of this project is to introduce a model ( models) to identify the ‘sweet spots’ for a shale gas field , hence reducing the number of wells required to extract the gas from the field. In addition to the modelling, some experiments are expected to be executed for verification of the proposed model (models).

Dr Sina Rezaei-Gomari Technology Futures Institute

“Big data” computational modelling for biomedical applications

We are now in the “big data” era, whose main contributors are biological and biomedical data, now produced at an unprecedented rate. As a result, we need advanced computational and machine learning tools to extract meaning from such “big data”. Bioinformatics and computational biology aim to design, implement, and make use of methods and software tools to perform mining, analysis and integration of large biological datasets.

Claudio Angione Digital Futures Institute

Remediation of Groundwater Resources using Nanotechnology - Experimental and Modelling Investigation

Nanotechnology offers unique opportunities for effective environmental clean-up such as groundwater and contaminated land remediation. Application of zero-valent iron nanoparticles (nZVI) in remediation of groundwater resources has become an emerging technology. Extensive research at laboratory, pilot, and more recently field scales have been conducted to understand how oil contaminants can be degraded in porous media in presence of nZVI particles. This project aims to perform direct 4D imaging (3D + time) using X-ray micro-tomography technique to understand how contaminants are distributed in porous media and how the degradation process can be optimised. A high-performance workstation dedicated to pore-scale imaging and modelling studies at School of Science and Engineering which enables us to perform high-resolution image analysis at pore-scale. The experiments will mainly take place at the newly established Petroleum Engineering laboratories at Teesside University. The findings of this research is of great importance for improving the existing models to design optimised remediation processes. On the modelling side the student will model the transport of nanoparticles in porous media using the MNMs modelling package developed at the Polytechnic University of Turin - Italy.

Dr. Tannaz Pak Digital Futures Institute

Experimental animation and moving-image art

This topic aims to investigate concepts such as cinematic painting, visual music and moving-image art from the perspective of animation and fine art practice. This is a practice-based project where the legacy of avant-garde film, animation and fine art offers wide scope to innovate, experiment and explore animation in an inter-disciplinary and contemporary context. As a project grounded in research, it focuses on producing a significant mixed media, audio-visual, moving-image or hybrid digital artwork for publication in a gallery exhibition, public space or cinematic screening.

Sabrina Schmid Digital Futures Institute

Risks to law enforcement capture of network evidence

Law enforcement agencies sometimes capture evidence from network sources. "Open source intelligence" from the Internet can be useful in the prevention and detection of crime, as well as for reducing risks in organisations generally. This project is to examine how this capture of information is performed, and to assess how capable adversaries may hinder it. An ideal outcome would identify the likelihood and impact of risks to both those carrying out evidence capture and the evidence that is captured. Appropriate and proportionate countermeasures may be proposed and evaluated. This fits within a wider are of interest concerning law enforcement practice for the Internet and balancing rights to privacy and anonymity.

Phil Brooke Digital Futures Institute

Quantitative secure information flow analysis of concurrent systems

Traditionally, computer security has been largely enforced at the level of operating systems via access control policies, which are designed to restrict access to information, but cannot control information propagation once accessed. To address this concern, information flow control can be applied to avoid information leakage and violations by executing the programs, and defend attacks from application level. Absolute security policies, such as non-interference, are too restrictive to satisfy in practice. Quantitative security analysis allows us to relax the policies: we can quantify the properties and thus tolerate “small” violation. However, quantitative approaches to secure flow analysis of programs are relatively new and have mainly focused on simple programs in a core imperative languages. While real world programs normally involve arbitrary and dynamic patterns of communication and interaction, and behaves as a concurrent system. It is therefore important to have a quantitative study geared towards the security task relevant to the computational environment in which we live. The general aim of this project is to develop, implement and evaluate quantitative approaches to secure flow analysis for systems in a typed high-level concurrent language. We propose to exploit quantified security behaviour capture of concurrent systems from perspectives of language semantics, probabilistic behaviours, and entropy based information leakage measurement.

Dr Chunyan Mu Digital Futures Institute

Reasoning about Concurrent Software

As multicore processors become the norm in modern computer hardware, concurrent software has become the mainstream. Unfortunately, it is notoriously hard to write correct concurrent software. For a concurrent program, the execution of its threads can be interleaved in many different ways, resulting in a collection of execution traces (for the program) that is often too large for a human to grasp. Thus it is easy for a programmer to overlook a scenario that might occur, and to introduce an error in the program. As a result, not only the production but also the maintenance of concurrent software bears a huge cost. In sequential software, static analysis and verification has been proven to be one of the most fruitful techniques to catch large numbers of errors at compile-time, i.e. before actually running the software. This PhD project aims to study tractable static analysis and verification techniques for concurrent software, where such techniques are most needed. In terms of reasoning properties, we choose to focus on safety, liveness and security issues of concurrent software due to their vital importance.

Prof. Shengchao Qin Digital Futures Institute

Program Synthesis using Machine Learning

Program synthesis is the task of automatically synthesizing a program that satisfies a given specification. The ability to generate code automatically has numerous applications, ranging from helping end-users (of computational devices) create small scripts for repetitive-task automation and simple data manipulation, helping learners (of computer-aided education systems) generate problem, solution, and feedback for several repetitive and structured tasks, helping algorithm designer discover new algorithms, to assisting software developers fix bugs to reduce or even remove undesirable user experience or security vulnerability. The task is extremely challenging. Existing approaches using domain-specific languages synthesizers, higher-order functions, or constraint-solving have only been able to scale up to small programs. This project aims to teach computers to write code. In particular, we will explore machine/deep learning combined with other techniques such as formal reasoning and probabilistic programming for broader and more scalable program synthesis. We will consider program synthesis from the following specification methods: natural language description, input-output examples, complete formal descriptions.

Dr Quang Loc Le Digital Futures Institute

Data-driven and Human-centric cyber-physical systems

This project is data-driven and human-centric cyber-physical systems. More specifically, it will lie in two research topics: semi-supervised and self-motivated learning cyber-physical system, and security and privacy in smart cyber-physical system. In the future, cyber-physical system will be ubiquitous, such as smart phones, wearable device, cameras, etc. The characteristic of each device is different in terms of the level of intelligence. Human-centric sensing from smarter device, e.g cameras and Kinects, can supply with users more information, while it is vulnerable to many constraints. On the other hand, the less intelligent device, e.g. wearable bands, can be less informative, but more robust and commonly available. This project will investigate a novel method to enable smarter devices to teach less intelligent ones in the application of human-centric sensing. Through this, less intelligent sensors are potential to become smarter without labour expensive supervision. Additionally, smart cyber-physical systems have security and privacy concerns. Especially, with the application of machine learning tools, even sensors with little information have potential to infer context with high accuracy, which will cause critical privacy concerns. Besides, smart autonomous systems, e.g. self-driving vehicles and intelligent robots, have even more security issues which need to be addressed before they are widely brought to daily life. Authentication is of great importance for these applications. Except the wide usage of traditional authentication methods, e.g. password, finger printing, face recognition, this project will explore the potential of signals from other sensors, e.g. wireless signals, or IMUs.

Dr Bo Wei Digital Futures Institute

Attribute Based Access Control for Big Data and IoT applications

To-date, the most widely-used authorization model in computing has been Role Based Access Control, or RBAC. Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC) is generally seen as the way forward in authorization model research. The central idea of ABAC is that access can be determined based on the attribute values presented by a subject. This project will extend our previous ABAC research to focus on the efficient implementation of ABAC in Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT, NoT) applications. Such applications might use several data storage technologies, including Hadoop, NoSQL and relational database. ABAC authorization is to be implemented by augmenting the user’s transactions with code to enforce the ABAC controls. This would require the underlying storage systems to support a high-level language such as SQL or similar. The modified user transactions would then be optimized and processed using the full functionality of the underlying systems.

Dr Jim Longstaff Digital Futures Institute

Artificial Intelligence for emergent and behavioural modelling

The outcome of many social and economic interactions is defined by not only predictions that individuals make about the behaviour and intentions of other individuals, but also the cognitive mechanism that the others adopt to make their decision. To understand the evolutionary mechanisms that promote and maintain cooperative behaviour in various societies, it is therefore important to take into account the intrinsic complexity of individuals partaking therein, namely their cognitive and complex decision-making processes. This project will study problems in this area, by developing computational models based on methods from Artificial Intelligence and Evolutionary Game Theory. The cognitive mechanisms of interest in this project are, though not limited to: theory-of-mind, intention recognition, hypothetical, counterfactual and reactive reasoning, bounded rationality, emotion guidance, learning, preferences, apology-forgiveness, commitment and morality.

Dr The Anh Han Digital Futures Institute

Modernism and Modernist Studies

The English Studies Section welcomes all PhD proposals addressing literary and cultural Modernism. The section has particular expertise in the work of Ford Madox Ford and in Modernist poetry and poetics, in particular the long poem. As part of the Cultures of Trust network we welcome proposals which address economic and financial aspects of Modernity, both as ideology and practice, and their textual representation. With international networks in spatial practice, we also encourage PhD proposals specialising in geographical or topographical approaches to Modernist writing in any genre. With the acquisition of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, we also seek postgraduate students who wish to explore creative and artistic crossover material in the period 1880-1940. For more information please contact Dr Rob Hawkes or Dr Chris Thurgar-Dawson.

Dr Rob Hawkes Digital Futures Institute

Artificial intelligence in network security

As the network applications are increasingly being used with the popularity of broadband networks, the network security is very important. The smartphones and computers use various applications for banking and online purchases and the user needs to use it securely. To perform network attacks like spoofing, flooding, eavesdropping, etc. is so easy with some research. An intrusion detection system looks for different kind of network attacks in the incoming packets. Can we use machine learning to differentiate the attack packet flows, classify attacks and eventually stop them? Can we allow the learning algorithm to understand new kind of attacks and grow in intelligence? There is a need for intelligent intrusion detection system that could detect different and dynamic attack patterns and this research will develop such a system.

Dr Biju Issac Digital Futures Institute

AI planning techniques for Network Security

Penetration Testing is a critical part of network security. It is a well-established method for identifying security weaknesses by carrying out friendly attacks. Simulated penetration testing automates this process and AI planning techniques have been used to generate these attacks: the idea being to design a model of the network, and then use AI based planning to generate the attacks. The current state of the art can identify potentially dangerous combinations of known vulnerabilities but the challenge now is to move towards generating attacks the way real attackers would. This research covers a broad range of sequential decision making problems and raises many challenging research questions.

Dr. Julie Porteous Digital Futures Institute

Modular Verification and Synthesis of Real-World Critical Software

Society is increasingly dependent on complex software systems that pose difficult challenges in terms of reliability and security. Building software systems that are safe and do not fail is a difficult and expensive task. There is a clear need for the development of methods and tools that contribute to more resilient, safer systems. This project will focus on the exploration of compositional verification techniques that allow the certification and synthesis of low-level programs from high-level functional specifications. In particular, we will explore and extend recently-developed verification technologies (e.g. Compcert and CertiCoq) to verify and construct correct real-world critical software.

Dr Joao F. Ferreira Digital Futures Institute

Tool support for mathematical reasoning

The development of correct software systems demands support for computer mathematical reasoning. However, the traditional use of mouse and keyboard are an obstacle when it comes to writing mathematics. There has been an increasing interest in using alternative input methods such as handwriting for mathematical input. Several tools have already been developed to provide more intuitive support for writing and doing mathematics but there is still much to be explored when it comes to interfaces to support the writing of verified proofs. Interactive and automated theorem provers (e.g Isabelle, Coq) are valuable when it comes to write proofs but their syntax (which differs from system to system) is complex and time consuming to learn and use. This project aims to improve the state of the art of interfaces for writing verified mathematical proofs by combining innovative interfaces (such as handwriting and gestures) and proof assistant systems. An expected end product of this project is a software tool that will assist users interested in reasoning about complex software systems.

Dr Alexandra Mendes Digital Futures Institute

AI planning techniques for Network Security

Penetration Testing is a critical part of network security. It is a well-established method for identifying security weaknesses by carrying out friendly attacks. Simulated penetration testing automates this process and AI planning techniques have been used to generate these attacks: the idea being to design a model of the network, and then use AI based planning to generate the attacks. The current state of the art can identify potentially dangerous combinations of known vulnerabilities but the challenge now is to move towards generating attacks the way real attackers would. This research covers a broad range of sequential decision making problems and raises many challenging research questions.

Dr. Julie Porteous Digital Futures Institute

Evolutionary Algorithms for Solving Multiple Independent Optimization Problems

Evolutionary algorithm(EA), inspired by biological evolution, is a popular technique for solving complex optimization problems through population-based search metaheuristics. It has shown much success in solving a variety of problems in the fields of science and engineering, and gradually established its current status as a mainstay of optimization. However, it is interesting to see that EAs have almost exclusively been used to solve only a single optimization problem at a time. Therefore, this project is dedicated to a detailed exposition on a characteristic of population-based search algorithms, i.e., their inherent ability (much like the human mind) to handle multiple optimization tasks at once. This project will exploit the parallelism of EAs to develop multifactorial EAs. The algorithms are to solve multiple independent optimization problems simultaneously using a single population of evolving individuals. The relations of multiple optimization problems are encoded to improve the algorithm performance. The research outcomes will be a new line of research on multifactorial EAs and a practical test-bed for the algorithm evaluation.

Dr. Jing Tang Digital Futures Institute

Artificial Intelligence in gaming and simulation

With the success of AlphaGo, Artificial Intelligence (AI) moves to a new stage where practical challenges may drive a new generation of intelligent agent techniques. This project will focus on the exploration of reasoning, learning and planning techniques of intelligent agents and their applications in computer games and simulations. Particularly we will develop a new line of data-driven approaches that will improve the capability and scalability of the AI techniques in real-world applications. This is motivated by widely available replay data in real-time strategy games. This project will also look into serious games and aim for the development of believable characters with human-like behavior, which could be incrementally learned from player experience. Similar line of research could be conducted in a simulation platform.

Dr Yifeng Zeng Digital Futures Institute

Efficient Sketch Based Modelling of 3D Human Figures

Over the past two decades, Sketch Based Modelling (SBM) has been gaining great attention in computer graphics research and its application are becoming successful in the animation industry. However SBM is still in its infancy and offers several new avenues of research to push its boundaries, especially in the area of 3D human character modelling. This research project will aim at designing and implementing novel sketch based modelling tools for 3D human character modelling complying natural surface anatomy. These tools will eventually be used by an artist to model a 3D human character in the desired pose of his/her choice. The research will involve looking into anatomical drawings of humans and understanding the different ways professional artist draw human figures. The research will involve transforming 2D feature curves into 3D meshes, and also making the system data-driven by developing a 3D database of human muscles. Feature curves are curves in a sketch drawn by an artist that depict different features/curvatures of the human body such as chest muscles, arm muscles etc. The tools will be designed to be used on a graphics tablet such as Wacom Cintiq with rigorous testing. The research will involve working with 3D scanning technologies for capturing data. Moreover, the research will involve surveying and implementing efficient computational geometry, and computer vision algorithms, while also designing novel algorithms to design powerful sketch based modelling tools to be used in the industry. In future we can extend the resulting tools into modelling different creatures such as aliens, monsters, humanoid robots etc.

Dr Ismail Kazmi Digital Futures Institute

Artificial Intelligence for Gamification of HealthCare

There has been a recent surge of interest in gamification for healthcare to promote healthy lifestyles with various technologies and applications that mix self-monitoring with entertainment. The ultimate goal being to help people make sustainable behaviour changes leading to improved health outcomes. This research will explore the development and application of Artificial Intelligence techniques (e.g. AI Planning, Agent Based Modelling) for such systems and the research is likely to be aligned with external industrial collaborators and other researchers in the School of Health and Social Care at Teesside.

Dr Ian Wood Digital Futures Institute

Distributed Artificial Intelligence for a Smart City

As urban environments become more and more entwined with the technology, some cities explore a wide range of technologies to transform their landscapes, work places. This can take the form of informations, help, reporting of crime, education and more which is made available to the public. When calculation becomes complex and distributed over large areas, decisions to be made need to be as much as possible informed by systems and techniques that are slowly emerging. This project aims at using modern AI techniques in particular distributed AI techniques to provide adaptive services that could have applications in health care, transport and traffic management.

Dr Julien Cordry Digital Futures Institute

Technology/AI Enhanced Learning

The activity of genetics, evolution, epidemiology and other naturally occurring systems that exhibit novel, emergent phenomena are not easily explained by traditional teaching methods. Our research addresses this problem through the production of animated, agent-based software models which visualise such emergent phenomena and the more general scientific principles which underpin their activity. These models are designed to support learning for STEM-based subjects at secondary school and undergraduate levels and to enhance societal knowledge of science through public engagement. We currently reach audiences through science centres, public engagement events and out-reach into schools and are now seeking to extend the scope and the impact of this work. This research topic focuses on investigation into the nature of representational frameworks, the manipulation of software artefacts and the exploration of innovative computing techniques (from agent-based modelling and Artificial Intelligence) to extend the potential of our software models for new groups of learners and into new subject areas. The outcome will be novel systems that enable students to predict, infer and manipulate complex dynamic representations in engaging environments. Example applications could include modelling the spread of a Zica like virus; how selection pressure causes genetic change; the environmental impact of energy use in towns; the effect of predators on population control, etc.

Dr Simon Lynch Digital Futures Institute

Creative Writing

With expertise in a wide variety of styles and genres, and hosting two Royal Literary Fund Fellows, the Creative Writing tutors in the English Studies Section welcome PhD proposals across all the main genres of fiction, drama, poetry and screenwriting. With recent renewed interest in personal and professional writing, we also encourage those seeking to undertake a PhD in writing for wellbeing or in positive psychologies of creative writing. Prospective research students wishing to write a novel as part of their PhD study are particularly encouraged, and negotiated research PhDs in Creative Writing are actively sought on both a full and part-time basis. For further information please contact Dr Sophie Nicholls or Dr Chris Thurgar-Dawson.

Dr Chris Thurgar-Dawson Institute of Design, Culture and the Arts

Literary and Cultural Geography: Place, Space and Text

The English Studies section encourages research in all aspects of literary geography, including theories of space and place, the representation of local, global and textual geographies, landscape and environment, and spatial practices in all their forms. With access to a wealth of material and international contacts in the field, work which takes as its focus research into twentieth-century literary practice is particularly encouraged. Historical and contextual approaches to the depiction of physical and political landscapes are also welcomed, as are more traditional chorological approaches to novels, poems and plays. Contact Dr Chris Thurgar-Dawson at any time for further advice or information on your proposal.

Dr Chris Thurgar-Dawson Institute of Design, Culture and the Arts

Historical Materialist Theorisations of Class and British Film and Television

This project seeks to examine historical materialist theorizations of class and culture and their potential application to the interpretation of the representation of class within British film and television. A central theoretical topic to explore would concern the issue of how class, understood as social taxonomy (the infamous English class system), systematically obstructs the emergence of the idea of class as a social-economic relationship. How do such obstructions manifest themselves in traditions of British cinematic and televisual culture? Specific topics might include social realism and the representation of class in film and television and traditions of romanticism in British post-1945 film culture.

Dr Paul Dave Institute of Design, Culture and the Arts

British Cultures of Capitalism in Film, Television, Literature and Social History

Applications are invited for doctoral study in the area of British cultures of capitalism. Within traditions of historical materialism the proposal that Britain was historically the cradle of capitalism remains a familiar but underexplored one in terms of its implications for recognizably national cultures. Research in this area might seek to assess to what extent we can talk about a specific British capitalist cultures? Topics of potential research would include British romanticism (literature, film, art); regional cultures (including those of the ‘north’ and the ‘south’ and their distinctive but nevertheless interconnected responses to the impact of capitalism and industrialisation; heritage culture (in film, literature and television), and Oxford medievalism (in literature and film, including the works of William Morris, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Phillip Pullman).

Dr Paul Dave Institute of Design, Culture and the Arts

Childhood and Transgender in Contemporary Fiction and / or Film

Applications are invited for research projects exploring representations of transgendered identity in contemporary culture, with a focus on literary, film or television narrative. The research will investigate how cultural representations reflect, shape or challenge prevailing assumptions about the development of gendered identity in childhood and adolescence. It will examine representations of children and / or adolescents whose gender identity or expression differs from that assigned to them at birth. The research will be situated within a critical and theoretical framework informed by gender and sexuality studies, with a focus on transgender studies. The methodology will combine theoretical conceptualisation with close textual analysis and historical contextualisation. The exact scope and focus of the project will be negotiated with the Director of Studies and supervision team.

Dr Rachel Carroll Institute of Design, Culture and the Arts

Black and Asian Britain in Contemporary Historical Fiction and / or Film

Applications are invited for research projects exploring representations of Black British, South Asian and / or British Asian identity and history in contemporary historical fiction and film, with a focus on narratives which revisit eighteenth and / or nineteenth century history. The research will examine a range of cultural representations, potentially including historical fiction, period drama and / or heritage film. It will investigate the ways in which specific genres of historical fiction mediate contemporary understandings of Black British, South Asian and / or British Asian identities and histories. The research will be situated within relevant critical and theoretical frameworks, including (but not limited too) Adaptation Studies, Black British / British Asian Studies, Postcolonial Studies and Neo-Victorian Studies. The methodology will combine theoretical conceptualisation with close textual analysis and historical contextualisation. The exact scope and focus of the project will be negotiated with the Director of Studies and supervision team.

Dr Rachel Carroll Institute of Design, Culture and the Arts

Gender and Popular Music in Contemporary Writing

Applications are invited for research projects exploring the representation of gendered identity in fiction and non-fiction writing about popular music, including literary fiction, popular fiction and memoir. The research will focus on the representation of girls and women in relation to popular music cultures and industries, including performance, recording, production and consumption. It will investigate the ways in which historical and contemporary popular music cultures are gendered and the extent to which literary representations reflect, shape or challenge this gendering. The intersection between gender and other significant formations of identity, including race, class and sexuality, may also be considered. The research will be situated within relevant critical and theoretical frameworks, including (but not limited to) Gender and Sexuality Studies and Popular Music Studies. The methodology will combine theoretical conceptualisation with close textual analysis and historical contextualisation. The exact scope and focus of the project will be negotiated with the Director of Studies and supervision team.

Dr Rachel Carroll Institute of Design, Culture and the Arts

Heat transfer from a bluff bodies in cross-flow of single and multi-component multiphase flows.

Heat transfer and flow characteristics around a cylinder in cross flow are important in relation to various engineering applications such as tubular heat exchangers, cooling towers, hot wire anemometer, nuclear reactor fuel rods, offshore risers, sensors and probes. The flow could be single phase flow, single-component (boiling) two-phase flow or multi-component multiphase flow depending on the type of engineering applications. For single phase flow, the incoming flow impinges the cylinder at the stagnation point and accelerates along the frontal side associated with development a thin boundary layer at stagnation point and its thickness increases with downstream angular displacement on the cylinder surface. The combined effects of flow acceleration and increase in boundary layer thickness at the heat transfer coefficient behaviour on the surface until the separation point. The fluid recirculation after the separation point and the shed of vortices from the cylinder causes the heat transfer coefficient to increase. This behaviour needs more investigation under multi-component multiphase flow conditions.

Dr Faik Hamad Technology Futures Institute

Single and multiphase Flow induced vibration of aerofoil and cylinder in cross flow

Most pipeline failure is attributed to instability and processes such as vibration induced fatigues which are fundamental failure mechanisms of a piping system. Data published by the UKs Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show that available data for individual plants show that in Western Europe between 10% and 15% of pipe work failures are caused by induced fatigue. The objective of this project is to study the flow induced vibration for single (air and water) and multiphase (air-water mixture) flows to optimise the flow and reduce the failure due to vibration. Finding an optimum flow would prolong life expectancy of the plant and limit the amount of shut downs of plants due to maintenance and refurbishment which is consequently costing the client money.

Dr Faik Hamad Technology Futures Institute

Study of multiphase flow in inclined pipes

The study of multiphase flow is of great importance for many engineering applications such as steam generators, internal combustion engines, heat exchangers, pipelines for the transport of gas and oil mixtures and many unit operations in chemical industries. Flow characteristics depend on the combination of the phases which form a mixture of gas-liquid, gas-solid, liquid-liquid or gas-liquid-solid due to the differences in their properties such as density, viscosity and the surface tension. For gas-liquid and liquid-liquid mixtures, the flow regimes can be classified into the bubbly flow, slug flow, churn flow and annular flow depending on the fluid’s ratios, the velocity of each phase and the flow orientation (vertical, horizontal or inclined). The main objective of this study is to measure the local parameters of air-water or kerosene-water mixtures under developing and fully developed conditions for up-flow in a vertical pipe and inclined pipes. The flow development and fully developed flow will be investigated for different angle of inclination of flow conditions.

Dr Faik Hamad Technology Futures Institute

The Influence of Biochar on Bacterial-Protozoal Interactions

Biochar has many potential applications and one of these is as a support matrix for the intrinsically complex microbial communities that underpin the treatment of liquid and/or gaseous wastes. Typically, protozoal predation of these microbial communities has a direct and sometimes significant impact on the overall performance and efficiency of the treatment reactors. Due to its complex surface characteristics, biochar could afford shelter for members of the waste ameliorating microbial communities against protozoal grazing or predation and, thus, mitigate reactor inefficacy or failure. Current and planned research at Teesside University entails biochar production from sustainably sourced and renewable substrates, comprehensive characterization of their physico-chemical properties, molecular analysis of the impact of the biochars on microbial communities, investigations of the interactions between protozoa and bacteria and development of habitat media to culture key microbial strains from specific phases of wastewater treatment.

Dr D Wright Technology Futures Institute

Fingerprint ageing: exploration of composition changes with time

Fingerprints are one of the most important forms of physical evidence and are used daily in criminal investigations. The knowledge of a timeframe during which a latent fingermark was deposited is a highly relevant factor, with the ability to refute or prove an alibi, or determine a potential sequence of events. There are currently no accepted methods for reliably determining the age of latent fingerprints, although several methods have been proposed, focussing predominantly on physical changes over time and their effect on enhancement with powders or chemical techniques. One novel approach is to explore how print composition changes over time, through exploration of the kinetics of decomposition processes and the formation of oxidation products within latent marks. This is the subject of this research, which explores decomposition mechanisms under different environmental conditions and fingerprint aging using a number of analytical techniques.

Dr Meez Islam Technology Futures Institute

Analysis of burned human remains: understanding the context of cremation

Researchers here at Teesside University have spent considerable time developing new methods of analysis which can be applied to burned bone. These have included methods that examine demographic features of the deceased, improved means of assessing heat-induced colour change, and novel means of determining changes to the crystal structure of bone. There is much work to be undertaken to further refine these new methods, while also applying them to forensic and archaeological contexts to better understand the range of contexts of burning that can occur.

Dr Tim Thompson Technology Futures Institute

Digitizing human remains: the forensic anthropological context

The role of the forensic (or biological) anthropologist is to examine human remains and there are many ways to do this. Recently there has been an increased in the use of non-contact surface scanning of bone to record and preserve skeletal features and information. This has significant implications for a range of contexts, including in the courtroom, the classroom and the laboratory. We use a variety of methods of collect and present this osteological material and have been developing best practice for the field.

Dr Tim Thompson Technology Futures Institute

Elimination of volatile organic compounds by catalytic oxidation at low temperature

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) constitute most hazardous air pollutants found indoors and linked to some chronic diseases, prompting the need for a robust indoor air purification technology to destroy VOCs at low temperature to reduce cost and prevent formation of unwanted intermediates. Catalytic oxidation which breaks down VOCs into safer CO2 and water holds the greatest potential to eliminate indoor VOCs. Conventional catalysts for VOCs oxidation are active at temperatures above 180˚C only, making them unsuitable for indoor application. Eight different preparation routes were investigated to synthesis highly active gold nano-particles on optimised SBA-15 support. The twelve catalyst prepared were characterised using a wide range of analytical instruments. Temporal Analysis of Products experiments (TAP) carried out at The University of Tokyo, Japan showed some catalysts were active for oxidation even at room temperature. A mobile device has been built to work with the best catalyst for indoor elimination of VOCs.

Prof. Maria Olea Technology Futures Institute

Computational fluid dynamics for microreactors used in catalytic oxidation of propane

This research deals with the design of a suitable microreactor for the catalytic oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Four different geometries had been proposed and simulated to evaluate the fluid behaviour in the microchannels in order to select the most suitable reactor geometry. One of them allowed the most uniform flow distribution in all channels as assessed through relative standard deviation calculations. The second design step involved the investigation of the VOCs catalytic oxidation, using propane as model molecule, occurring in the microreactor with the optimal geometry/configuration previously found. The proposed microreactor consists of eleven parallel channels, in which the catalysed propane combustion reaction takes place. Each channel is 0.5 mm diameter and 100 mm long. The optimum inlet gas velocity for propane conversion of 99.99 % was between 0.05 m/s and 0.1 m/s. The optimum reactor length was observed to be between 40 mm to 60 mm depending on the inlet velocity and temperature.

Prof. Maria Olea Technology Futures Institute

Microfluidics for scaled down biologics on a chip

The production of therapeutic drug products using biological means, known as biologics or biotherapeutics, is an area of growing importance for the healthcare sector.  The current approach involves an iterative process of expanding the biomass of the cell lines following transfection and using a series of screens to select those with desirable characteristics. This approach is time consuming and expensive. The project will focus on a low cost tool for improving the development of therapeutic drugs firstly through scale down and integrated CHO cell processing and secondly cell-based cytotoxicity assays using an organ-on-chip concept. The developed systems will have advantages of reduced cost, efficiency of operation  and automation for higher reproducibility. The project would be suitable for somebody from either a biological or physical science background.

Prof. Zulfiqur Ali Technology Futures Institute

Printable diagnostics

There is an increasing demand for chemical and biological information for a variety of sectors such as medical, industrial, food and environmental. The project will use a printable electronics approach for the creation of a diagnostic device. The platform will comprise multiple sensor elements with fine spatial control and include electrochemical transducer with bioreceptor and optical sensing using dye elements and receptor for immunoassay. Additional aspects will include patterned material for temperature, heating and fluidic control elements. Integration of the individual electronic and optical elements as well as integrated circuits will be carried out to create a hybrid diagnostic platform. The project would be suitable for somebody from either a biological or physical science background.

Prof. Zulfiqur Ali Technology Futures Institute

Manufacturing approaches for low cost and highly functional smart systems

The project will seek to combine new manufacturing approaches with materials for diagnostic and organic solar cell systems. The combination of new manufacturing approaches and materials will allow the development of more functional and lower cost systems. We will particularly explore use of additive manufacturing, printed electronics as well as high replication approaches such as hot embossing and microinjection moulding.  The project would be suitable for somebody from either a physical science or engineering background.  

Prof. Zulfiqur Ali Technology Futures Institute