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An investigation into novel biofilters and bioactives as solutions to heavy metal contamination in water bodies

Research Support Unit

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Dr D O'Neill , Dr D O'Meara , Dr N O'Reilly No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The overall aim for the work to be completed through this PhD scholarship is to investigate novel strategies to improve water quality.

Water pollution, like other environmental concerns, has been the focus of widespread public interest for a number of decades and awareness is ever rising. This project focuses on heavy metals; priority hazardous substances of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) (Annex X) and Environmental Quality Standards Directive (2008/105/EC). Heavy metals can enter the environment as a result of both anthropogenic pressures (e.g. burning of fossil fuels, corrosion of piping or tanks, industrial discharge, mining) and natural processes (e.g. weathering of rocks). Some of these metals have no known biological function and are well-known carcinogenic and toxic agents to many organisms. The presence of these metals in the marine environment is highly undesirable. Since many aquatic species are utilized for human consumption, the public health significance of toxic substances accumulated in their tissues is of clear concern.

Seaweeds are commonly found throughout the world’s oceans and coastal areas, and can demonstrate excellent bioremediation capacity by accumulating heavy metals from surrounding water. Gene-encoded proteins and bacteria bound to the seaweed surface contribute to the process of bioaccumulation. The successful candidate will explore these means of metal accumulation, with an aim to then take innovative biotechnological approaches to develop novel strategies to improve water quality.
Standard duties and responsibilities of the scholarship• Working as part of a project team and to engage with other team members on projects related to water quality in the Molecular Ecology Research Group.
• Regular communication with the Research Supervisory Team.
• Teaching in line with scholarship requirements.
• Training and professional development as required.
• Completing tasks required for the project dissemination strategy, including presentation of work at group team meetings.
Person specificationQualifications

• Applicants should hold or expect to attain, as a minimum a 2H1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in a biological discipline, e.g. marine biology, molecular biology, environmental science, ecology, or related discipline.

• MSc in a related discipline.

Knowledge & Experience

• Knowledge and interest in molecular biology, biotechnology, water quality, environmental protection, and ecosystem servicing.

• Experience of working in a molecular biology/research laboratory.
• Experience of working on environment remediation projects.
• Industrial experience.

Skills & Competencies

• Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see WIT’s English Language Requirements for details.
• The candidate should be research-focused and self-motivated.
• The candidate should be able to demonstrate an ability to work to a managed schedule.
• Excellent analytical skills, report writing and computer skills with evidence of organizational and communication skills.

• Demonstrated experience with laboratory diagnostic techniques, particularly real-time PCR, and recombinant DNA technologies.
Further informationFor any informal queries, please contact Dr. David O’Neill by email on [Email Address Removed]

For queries relating to the application and admission process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office via email
[Email Address Removed] or telephone +353 (0)51 302883.

Application procedurePlease download the Research Postgraduate Application Form from the WIT Website and return completed applications to [Email Address Removed] quoting (WD_2018_10) in the email subject line. Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted.

Any queries relating to the application process should be emailed to [Email Address Removed].
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