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Optimising bone shape with memory networks

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Faculty/Lead unit

Science and Engineering Faculty

Science and Engineering Faculty

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Pascal Buenzli
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Vivien Challis
Lecturer in Applied and Computational Mathematics
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Bone is a dynamic tissue that optimises its shape to the mechanical loads that it carries. Bone mass is accrued where loads are high, and reduced where loads are low. This adaptation of bone tissue to mechanical loads is well-known and observed in many instances. However, what serves as a reference mechanical state in this shape optimisation remains largely unknown.

Research activities

You will use mathematical and computational modelling to investigate mechanisms by which a network of cells living within bone tissue (osteocytes) sense and respond to mechanical loads.
This network is similar to the neural network in the brain. It is plastic, which enables learning new mechanical states; and it is long-lasting, which provides a mechanical memory. You will investigate how this new model of mechanical adaptation influences the evolution of bone shape when such a mechanical memory can be reset during bone tissue renewal. Results will be compared with previous theories and with experimental observations.


A new theory of bone mechanobiology with applications to biomechanical implant stability, orthodontics, and bone disorders.

Skills and experience

This project can be tailored to suit research students at Honours, Masters, and PhD level. Some proficiency in differential equations and computer modelling is expected.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.