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The University of Southampton
EngineeringPostgraduate study

Eng-Sci-Bio02 PhD/EngD Studentship: Mathematical and Computational Modelling of Biological Branching Structures

Mathematical and Computational Modelling of Biological Branching Structures- Blood Vessels, Lymphatics, Lung and Plants

At first glance one might think that the similarities between the structure of the human lung and the roots of a plant are coincidental. However the frequency with which such branched structures occur in nature should make us think again. In fact these branched structures have all evolved because the laws of physics mean that such structures are the most efficient means of transporting fluids to and from a region of space, such as the tissues of the body.

These branched systems always consist of larger vessels (tubes) connecting to smaller vessels, connecting to still smaller vessels etc. This hierarchy of different sized vessels arises because of the competition between two effects. The first is that fluids flow more easily along large vessels. The second is that in a network consisting of large vessels the average distance between any point in the tissue and a vessel will be much larger than for a network with the same overall volume consisting of small vessels. The optimum solution is thus a network containing large vessels for transporting fluids over large distance and small vessels for distributing the fluids on shorter scales.

This PhD project will deal with the development of mathematical models specifically designed for one of the four different branched biological systems that I work on. These four are vascular, lymphatic, lung airway and plant root branching structures.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr. Tiina Roose, Bioengineering research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2374.

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