Particle transport in turbulence: from particulate pipe flows to virus propagation in ventilations and airways

Eligibility: UK/EU/International graduates with the required entry requirements

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees

Duration: Full time - between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 21 June 2021

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2021

To find out more about the project, please contact Professor Alban Potherat.

Please note: in order to apply, all interested parties must firstly contact Professor Alban Potherat, with a CV and full transcript of academic records prior to embarking on an application – applicants omitting this step will not be considered.

Project details

COVID19 is transmitted by fine droplets carried by turbulent air motion. In ventilations systems, air circulates through pipes. Once inhaled, the virus progresses through the respiratory system, made of pipes too, and inflicts critical damage there. Hence, both transmission and infection processes hinge on how efficiently pipe flows carry droplets, or particles: how far into the pipe are they transported? How many of them are potentially captured at the pipe walls? Answering these questions opens the way to a robust assessment of ventilation safety, improved ventilation design, and a better understanding of how the virus progresses through the respiratory system.

These questions will be answered as part of this PhD by experimentally modelling the flow of droplets in our pipe flow facility. The Centre for Fluid and Complex systems developed a fully transparent pipe flow device of hitherto unmatched accuracy fitted with a unique optical detection device capable of mapping the motion of fluid and particles simultaneously to make the first breakthrough in this problem of fundamental importance.

The question now is to understand how the motions of fluid and particles interact in detail, ultimately manipulate this interaction with electric fields and control the transition to turbulence.

This PhD offers a unique opportunity to use and develop cutting-edge experimental techniques to tackle one of the great challenges of nonlinear physics, for both fundamental and practical purposes.


This is a fully-funded PhD studentship, including:

  • Full tuition fees
  • Stipend/bursary


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
  • Evidence of previous experience in experimental fluid mechanics, e.g. during an internship or any academic practical work.
  • MSc in Fluid Mechanics or Physics

How to apply

Please contact Professor Alban Potherat with a CV and full transcript of academic records. Please note that candidates omitting this step will not be considered.

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