Manufacturing Bio-Based Photoprotective Products with Ionic Liquids at London South Bank University

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About the Project

Photoprotective products—designed to prevent light from damaging our skin & eyes – damage the environment by contributing to toxic marine pollution and expending non-renewable resources. To mitigate this damage, our lab is seeking to manufacture non-toxic, biodegradable and/or recyclable photoprotective products using natural photoprotective compounds (lignins) extracted from waste woody (lignocellulosic) biomass with designer solvents called ionic liquids (ILs).

ILs are salts that are liquid at low temperatures—they can be designed to isolate lignins from biomass and to separate lignins according to their properties. As a PhD researcher, you’ll help develop methods to use ionic liquids to control how lignins interact with light in order to manufacture photoprotective products with complimentary colour requirements in parallel.

You will prototype products and test their safety and efficacy with academic and industrial collaborators, while simultaneously working with policymakers to gain regulatory approval for lignin as a UV-filter. Your PhD project will improve environmental outcomes of key preventive healthcare tools. This is a unique opportunity to use your fundamental engineering, materials science, and/or chemistry research skills to directly influence policy and commercial industry across sustainability, ecology, and healthcare spheres.

This is a lab-based project that will involve developing novel methods of biomass fractionation and material processing & manufacturing. You will make use of a range of synthetic & analytical chemistry, as well as physical, chemical, and mechanical material characterisation techniques. While experience in these techniques is desirable, the essential characteristics of the successful candidate are astute problem-solving and critical thinking skills, excellent organisation, and self-motivated ambition. If you are selected, you will be offered the training, guidance, and mentorship necessary to achieve a rewarding PhD experience.


The successful applicant will be working with Dr Meredith Rose Barr at LSBU. Dr Barr is a new PI with both the time to invest in your research & development, and an ambition for professional growth that will align with your goals as an early career researcher.


Applicants must have (or be expected to gain) a first- or upper second-class Honours degree (or international equivalent). A relevant master’s degree is desirable, but we also take into account professional experience, publications, and other evidence of accomplishment as well as an ability and background knowledge appropriate to the proposed research. Candidates need a good standard of English language skills to complete their work and prepare and defend a thesis. Please refer to country-specific entry requirements for more information.

Enthusiastic candidates from all countries with a background in Engineering, Materials Science, Chemistry, or a related discipline are encouraged to apply.

Application process

To apply, please fill out this informal application form (where you will be asked to upload your CV). If you have a question about the studentship, please email me***********@ls**.uk with the subject line “Question about Photoprotective Lignin Studentship”. Please do not send CVs to Dr Barr via email. LSBU’s on-line postgraduate application form will only be completed by the successful candidate after selection.

Funding Notes

This PhD is a School of Engineering Bursary covering fees (including tuition) and a £21,460 tax-free stipend per annum for 3 years. The stipend is regularly updated and therefore subject to change depending on start date. An April 2024 start date is anticipated but can be delayed to accommodate visa application timelines. Visa and English language qualification fees are not covered by the bursary.

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