Phd Scholarship – Melting In Granular Flows
University of Nottingham Department of Engineering
United Kingdom

Phd Scholarship – Melting In Granular Flows




Closing Date

    Tuesday, 25th June 2019




Applicants are invited to undertake a three-year, cross-disciplinary PhD study of granular flows of melting ice. The successful candidate will be based in the Environmental Fluid Mechanics & Geo-Processes research group at the University of Nottingham, under the supervision of Dr Barbara Turnbull, where they will carry out detailed laboratory experiments. They will work in collaboration with Dr Mike Swift, School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Nottingham, developing modelling approaches to understand the effect of melting in granular systems. The student will be able to travel to the prestigious BOKU (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), to work with Dr Roland Kaitna on their large rotating drum facility.


We are seeking applicants to start in October 2019 or February 2020.


In alpine environments, receding glaciers or rock faces tenuously held together by melting permafrost can fail, generating complex `debris flows’.  These can transport large boulders, sediments, and water large distances, interfering with watercourses, transport infrastructure and buildings.  Thus, there is interest in understanding how ice and snow effect debris flows in which they may be just a small component.


This project grows from previous work investigating how granular flows of ice, created by e.g. collapsing glaciers or permafrost slopes, melt as they move, changing their behaviour and mobility. The work will be largely experimental, manufacturing idealised granular ice to tumble in a drum or shake on a loudspeaker. Changes to ice behaviour will be tracked using high-speed imaging. The student will investigate the role of impurities and non-melting components in these systems, expanding current scaling analyses to explain these and developing the instrumentation to track e.g. even very small water content changes, directly. The student will complement this experimental programme with Discrete Element Method modelling. The process of developing and validating modelling methods against experimental data can allow for the results from the prototype system be extrapolated to the larger, real, system.


This PhD project will thus provide challenges in experimentation and modelling and help you develop skills that can be exploited in a wide range of academic and industry fields, following successful completion.


We are seeking talented candidates with:


    First class degree in science, mathematics, engineering or a similar discipline

    First rate analytical and numerical skills, with a well-rounded academic background

    Ability to undertake experimental design and analyse experimental data

    Ability to liaise with academic supervisors from a range of disciplines

    Background with relevant software (e.g. MATLAB etc.)

    A driven, professional and self-dependent work attitude

    The ability to produce high quality presentations and written reports


The scholarship on offer (to eligible students) comprises a tax-free stipend of £15,009 a year and paid UK/European Union tuition fees.


Due to funding restrictions this position is only available for UK or EU candidates.


Please contact Dr Barbara Turnbull for further information.  Email:


Please apply here


When applying for this studentship, please include the reference number (beginning ENG and supervisors name) within the personal statement section of the application. This will help in ensuring your application is sent directly to the academic advertising the studentship.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Engineeroxy


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