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Research Fellow in Microfluidic Sensors

Mechanical Engineering

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £30,942 per annum
Full Time Fixed Term (until 30/01/2022)
Closing Date:  Saturday 21 December 2019
Interview Date:   To be confirmed
Reference:  1211119DA

You will join a collaborative programme which aims to tackle the grand challenge of decoding nitrogen dynamics in soil through development of novel wireless nitrogen sensing technology, field testing, and data-driven modelling of rhizosphere nitrogen dynamics. This research is a UKRI/NSF-funded “Signals in the Soil” project, bringing together partners from the UK and US with expertise in sensors, microfluidics, modelling, and environmental science.

Leaching of nitrogen-based nutrients into waterways from agricultural and horticultural lands is a long-standing challenge for environmental protection and sustainable land use. An effective approach to improving water/fertilizer efficiency is through precision farming practices guided by real-time monitoring and near-term forecast of crop irrigation and fertilization needs. However, this initiative is hampered by the lack of reliable sensing technologies and modelling tools for elucidating the spatiotemporal variation of nutrient concentrations in the soil.

In this project you will develop new sensor technology for monitoring soil chemistry, building on our recent work developing cutting-edge sensors for water and medical applications based on droplet microfluidics. While a long-established laboratory technique, droplet microfluidics is only now making its way into the first field-deployable devices. In this project you will develop field-deployable droplet-based soil analysers using our robust droplet generation technique. You will develop fundamental droplet microfluidic technology, implement it into field-deployable systems, and test them both in the lab and in the field.

The post will provide an excellent opportunity for interdisciplinary work working across the engineering/sensors/environmental science interfaces and will involve use of Southampton University's advanced microfabrication and engineering facilities. You will work closely with the investigators and their research groups and collaborators from UK and US universities.

You will have a PhD* or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Physics, Environmental Science or relevant subject area along with good communication skills, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team. A practical background is essential. Expertise in microfluidics, lab-on-a-chip, optical detection, electrical or mechanical platform build-up would be advantageous.

Equality, diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in the School of Engineering. In recognition of our continued commitment to improving equality for women in science we were awarded an Athena SWAN bronze in 2013 and 2016.   We give full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy*, onsite childcare facilities

The University of Southampton is in the top 1% of world universities and in the top 10 of the UK’s research-intensive universities. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and being a globally responsible university and has recently been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.  Our vision is to embed the principles of sustainability into all aspects of our individual and collective work, integrating sustainable development into our business planning, policy-making, and professional activities.  This commits all of our staff and students to take responsibility for managing their activities to minimise harm to the environment, whether this through switching off non-essential electrical equipment or using the recycling facilities.

*Applications for Research Fellow positions will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification. The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon successful completion of the PhD.  Prior to the qualification being awarded the title of Senior Research Assistant will be given.

*subject to qualifying criteria

The position is tenable from 31st January 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Informal enquires are welcome, please contact Dr Xize Niu via email:

Application Procedure 

You should submit your completed online application form at The application deadline will be midnight on the closing date stated above. If you need any assistance, please call Sam Stubbs (Recruitment Team) on +44 (0) 23 80594046. Please quote reference 1211119DA on all correspondence.

The closing date for this job opportunity has now passed, and applications are no longer being accepted for this position

Further details:

We aim to be an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all sections of the community. Please note that applications from agencies will not be accepted unless indicated in the job advert.

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