Project code



School of Biological Sciences

Start dates

February and October

Application deadline

Applications accepted all year round

This 3-year self-funded PhD will be based in the School of Biological Sciences and will be supervised by Dr Federica Ragazzola, Dr Gianluca Tozzi and Dr Chiara Lombardi (ENEA, Italy).

The work on this project will:

  • use the shell waste to create biodegradable artificial structures for habitat restoration purposes (in leisure marinas) in line with the blue growth strategy
  • design different forms and texture of habitat structures mimicking the major bioconstructors of the targeted areas
  • carry out settlement test to determine the most successful bioconstruction
  • deploy the successful artificial bioconstruction as a pilot study in a leisure marina

This project aims to offer innovative solutions, using aquaculture waste, to turn leisure marinas (grey infrastructures) into infrastructures built around the Ecosystem restoration concept (blue and green infrastructure), and in doing so, create tools for climate change mitigation.

As coasts become more urbanised – due to commercial, industrial and recreational activities – coastal environments are gradually being built over, and natural habitats that support complex assemblages of native flora and fauna are being lost at a rapid rate.

The loss of biodiversity is strictly linked with the loss of ecosystem services (air, water purification, waste disposal, food source) and it is among the top reasons for ecosystem restoration. Artificial structures are often used in ecosystem restoration, and they can be designed and deployed to accomplish multiple functions particularly to provide hard substrate for invertebrate colonization and provide refugia for fish and invertebrates.

This project will use biodegradable polymers with different dissolution rates (both those created by us and those which have been already been produced) mixed with eco-friendly material, to create 3D artificial proto-types resembling the structure of the bioconstructors of the native environment.

The final goal is to have this artificial structure colonized by calcifying organisms which will take over the dissolving biopolymer, resulting in a transformation from artificial habitat to a natural habitat, made by native bioconstructors.

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

Entry requirements

  • You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in a relevant subject area.
  • In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications.
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

How to apply

Please contact Dr Federica Ragazzola ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

Please note, to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code BIOL4790219 when applying.

When you're ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select ‘Biological Sciences’ as the subject area. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.

Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

Please note, to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code BIOL4790219 when applying.

October start

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February start

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