Modelling the irradiation of biological molecules in the presence of solvents and metal nanoparticles

Fully funded studentship available.

Supervisors: Lorenzo Stella, Myrta Grüning, Daniel Dundas


Applications are invited for a four-year PhD position in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). The students will work as part of a research project that aims to model irradiation of biological molecules in the presence of solvents and metal nanoparticles (MNPs). Such irradiation processes occur over a wide range of time and length scales and so a range of theoretical and computational approaches are required that bridge these different regimes. The team involved in this work have developed a range of techniques to do this and the goal of this project is to join these methods together into a unified approach. Specifically, the PhD student will model the coupling of a quantum system to different complex environments such as solvents and MNPs by using an embedding scheme based on the projected equation of motion (PEOM) formalism. With this approach, the student will then study photon irradiation of nucleobases and radiosensitiser molecules in the presence of solvents and MNPs.

The Application Process

Applicants must demonstrate a first or upper second-class honours degree or an equivalent academic qualification, preferably in Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, or Mathematics.  An ability to program in either Fortran, C, or Python is desirable but not a prerequisite.

All applications must be submitted before the deadline through the QUB online application portal:

The deadline for applications is 21 May 2021. Short-listed candidates will be contacted shortly after the deadline. The starting date for the project is 1 August 2021.

For further information and queries, please email Dr Lorenzo Stella (

The Environment

The ASC works in one of the most dynamical areas in the physical sciences – the theory and simulation of molecules, liquids, solids and materials at the level of the constituent electrons and nuclei. Students in our group emerge with forefront knowledge in the theoretical and computational methods involved. This project will harness a range of ASC themes, resulting in a qualification that is difficult to obtain otherwise, yet in high demand at the academia/industry interface.

Funding notes

A fully-funded (fees and maintenance) studentship is available. Eligible candidates must be either UK or Republic of Ireland residents. EU citizens that satisfy a requirement of being ordinarily resident in the UK for the three years prior to the start of the studentship are also eligible. Further details of the eligibility criteria can be found here: Potential candidates are strongly recommended to verify their eligibility before applying.