University of Exeter funding: Single Molecule Biophysics:

Single Molecule Biophysics: Molecular Mechanics of Enzymes - Molecular Mechanics of Enzyme – PhD (Funded) Ref: 3762

About the award


Professor Frank Vollmer, University of Exeter

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in January 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,009 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.  The student would be based in the Living Systems Institute in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Streatham Campus in Exeter.

Project Description: Biophysics
Interdisciplinary research in the Vollmer lab is cutting-edge. We explore biophysics and biochemistry at the very limits of what humans are capable of investigating. You will apply Nano Sensors to explore Nature’s smallest entities such as single molecules and their pico Newton forces.
Have you ever wondered about how our bodies might work at the nanoscale, a scale at which we are composed of individual biomolecules? Where individual biomolecules such as enzymes take on the role of molecular machines, and where parts of a protein move like the pistons of an engine? How can one observe and analyse such intricate systems?

Your research will address these questions. My laboratory develops optical techniques to directly visualise living machinery. We are interested in looking at biological nanomachines, such as motor proteins and enzymes, as they function and while disturbing them as little as possible.

Our micro-optical devices and spectrometers have important applications in health, environment, security, and astronomy.

Science Advances 3 (3), e1603044

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £15,009 per year tax-free stipend.  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the residency requirements may still be eligible for a fees-only award but no stipend.  Applicants who are classed as International for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.  Further information about eligibility can be found here.

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0  in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.
• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to quoting the studentship reference number.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Nov 30th 2019.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus the week commencing December 2019.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email or phone +44 (0)1392 722730 or +44 (0)1392 725150.  Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor Prof Frank Vollmer, (


Application deadline:30th November 2019
Value:£15,009 per year for 3.5 years
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Office +44 (0)1392 722730 / 5150