PhD Studentship, School of Health Sciences

Southampton, United Kingdom
£15,609 tax-free per annum for 3.5 years, for either UK or international students
19 Oct 2021
End of advertisement period
14 Nov 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

School of Health Sciences

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Sunday 14 November 2021
Reference:  1558721CF

Physiological and perceptual mechanisms of sweat-induced skin wetness sensing in humans

We are seeking excellent candidates with interests in human physiology, skin health and thermoregulation, who want to study at a top 100 world University whilst collaborating with a leading industry partner. The PhD candidate will benefit from a 3.5-year studentship including a competitive tax-free annual stipend. During the PhD, the candidate will also benefit from a secondment at a Procter & Gamble Research Centre either in the UK or USA.

Project description:

This project is co-sponsored by Procter & Gamble and it is based on Dr Filingeri’ s work on skin wetness sensing (for more information visit:

While it is easy to imagine the feel of water running over our hands, or the sensation of sweat on our skin, humans have no known receptor to signal this directly. This is surprising, when considering that accurate wetness sensing is essential to assess our own thermal status and comfort (e.g., when one is sweating and feels uncomfortably wet) and to perceive the properties of objects and materials that touch our skin (e.g., when applying creams on the skin or when the clothes we wear become wet).

Our group has demonstrated that skin thermal and tactile inputs arising from moisture evaporation and movement across the skin contribute to the perception of wetness; yet visual and odour cues could also play a role. Using a combination of physiological and psychophysical methods in healthy humans exposed to various climates (e.g., hot, humid) and experimental conditions (e.g., resting, exercising), this research will investigate how the brain combines multisensory inputs in the form of temperature, touch, visual and odour cues from wet skin to give rise to the perception of skin wetness. Furthermore, this project will assess how individual variability in sex and hormonal states may influence this sensorial experience. 

The knowledge produced will provide novel insights on human multisensory integration and skin physiology and will support industrial innovation in user-centred-design of anti-perspirant deodorant products by the industry partner.

About us:

The University of Southampton (UoS) is in the top 1% worldwide and currently ranks in the top 100 QS World University Rankings (2019). It represents a research-led Academic Institution with strong inter-disciplinary research activity. This ESR position will be based in the School of Health Sciences, which is at the forefront of world-class teaching and research. It has a culture of collaboration, discovery and excellence, pioneering advances in clinical practice to shape the future of healthcare delivery. The Skin Health group in the School of Health Science, has an established programme of research led by Professor Dan Bader, Dr Peter Worsley and Dr Davide Filingeri, whereby the status of skin tissues can be monitored. This has been informed by utilising the latest bioengineering tools to evaluate the conditions at the interface between skin and devices including pressure, shear and the microclimate. The Skin Health Group incorporates senior bioengineers, healthcare researchers, biologists and post-graduate students, supporting international projects.

The successful PhD candidate will join the THERMOSENSELAB within the Skin Health Research Group in the School of Health Sciences, where they will receive a multidisciplinary training in skin physiology, thermoregulation, and sensory neuroscience. The supervisory team has an international reputation for research in thermoregulation and skin viability, and the successful candidate will have access to state-of-the-art testing facilities within the clinical research academic facility located at Southampton General Hospital.  Furthermore, the PhD student will benefit from an industrial collaboration with consumer goods market leader Procter & Gamble.

Dr Davide Filingeri

Dr Peter Worsley

Prof Dan Bader

Entry requirements:

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant science/engineering degree such as (but not limited to) human physiology, biology, physiotherapy, neuroscience, psychology, sport science, biomedical sciences and/or engineering. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: sensory/cognitive neuroscience, applied physiology, human factors, research experience with human participants.

Closing date 

14th November 2021


Full tuition fees and stipend of £15,609 tax-free per annum for 3.5 years, for either UK or international students.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2021/22, Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences, next page selects “PhD Health Sciences (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Davide Filingeri.

Applications should include:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A support statement (max 2 pages) outlining the motivation for this application
  • Two reference letters
  • Degree Transcripts to date

For informal enquiries, please contact: 

Dr Davide Filingeri -         

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