Fully-funded PhD position: Movement-science inspired development of upper-limb prostheses for young children

Bangor University, School of Psychology

Qualification type: PhD
Location: Bangor Closing date: February 1st 2019
Funding for: UK/EU students
Funding amount: Tax-free stipend of approximately £14,800 per annum plus tuition fees and a research allowance
Hours: Part-Time / Full Time

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship (or 4-year Masters-plus-PhD, depending on qualifications) funded by the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership and the School of Psychology at Bangor University. The position will start in October 2019.

Supervisors: Simon Watt; Ken Valyear; Ben Ryan (Ambionics)

Project rationale and description: Growing up without a hand poses unique and difficult challenges. Prosthesis provision for infants and young children is extremely limited, and the basic-science principles that inform how children learn to use prosthetic devices are largely unknown.

This project will use human movement neuroscience to identify these principles and develop new upper-limb prostheses for infants and young children. Our overall aims are to improve prosthesis functionality and reduce rejection rates, in turn improving quality-of-life and independence for children with limb loss.

The project is a close collaboration between academic researchers in movement neuroscience at Bangor (Watt, Valyear), and Ambionics (lead by Ben Ryan; www.ambionics.co.uk), a local company which has been developing rapid-prototyped prostheses for infants and young children since 2016.

The project involves a range of scientific methods, including motion capture of movements in children with limb loss, and control children (and adults), as well as administering standardized clinical tests. There may also be opportunities for functional MRI studies. The project is anchored on the principle of combining fundamental science with practical applications, and the student will also complete placements at Ambionics, gaining experience in prosthesis design and production.

Facilities: The project is part of ongoing research in Watt and Valyear’s labs in the School of Psychology at Bangor University. The labs offer access to outstanding facilities for Cognitive Neuroscience, including motion capture, novel display technologies, eye-tracking, functional MRI, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Furthermore, Bangor is situated in a beautiful region of North Wales close to Snowdonia National Park, which provides a wonderful natural backdrop to professional life.

Requirements: The successful applicant will have an undergraduate and/or master’s degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. psychology, neuroscience, biology, medical sciences, bioengineering, human factors). Applicants without an appropriate master’s degree are welcome to apply and, if successful, will be funded to complete an MSc in in Research Methods in Psychology at Bangor prior to enrolling on the PhD.

Strong work ethic and genuine enthusiasm for research are essential, as is the ability to work both independently and cooperatively. Programming skills and/or prior experience with motion capture methods will be beneficial, but are not necessary as training will be provided.

Residency requirements: This studentship is open to UK/EU students only.

General information: PhD students are expected to contribute to teaching in the department.

Further information: In the first instance please contact Dr Simon Watt (s.watt@bangor.ac.uk) or Dr Ken Valyear (k.valyear@bangor.ac.uk) to discuss your application. Please include your CV and brief summary of your research interests.

General enquiries: For general advice about how to apply and eligibility please contact psychology@bangor.ac.uk

Apply Now: The online application form is available here. Your application must include the following sections:

  • A covering letter of up to two pages 
  • Details of academic/professional qualifications 
  • Two academic references 
  • A CV (two pages maximum) 
  • A research proposal of up to 1000 words (plus bibliographic references) 
  • If relevant, proof of English Language Competency (7.0 IELTS minimum)

Bangor Doctoral School website: https://www.bangor.ac.uk/doctoral-school/