CDTS315: Pollution from source to cetaceans – antimicrobials as a case study for One Health wastewater pollution

   School of Natural Sciences

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  Dr Ellie Jameson, Prof Mark Fitzsimon, Dr Thomaz Andrade, Dr Rosie Williams  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Marine ecosystems are of immense ecological and economic significance, under increasing threat from poorly understood pharmaceutical pollution. This project will addressing critical knowledge gaps in the persistence, accumulation, and impact of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in marine food chains.

Using extensive datasets from wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), chemical data, and a marine mammal tissue bank the project will bridge gaps in understanding of antibiotic pollution in marine ecosystems. The student will use bioinformatics to analyse sequence data for antibiotic degradation pathways, and chemical data from wastewater, environmental and stranding samples. Integrating this data will guide targeted analysis of tissue bank samples, and new stranding, water and sediment samples. Fieldwork will focus on the well-studied Conwy outflow, in proximity to wastewater overflows. The student will use proven methods to assess antibiotics, degradation products and AMR.

Aims and Objectives

  • Investigate the persistence, accumulation, and impact of antibiotics and AMR on the marine ecosystem in North Wales.
  • Characterise of antibiotic and AMR pathways in WWTPs (WasteWater Treatment Plants). Analyse metagenomic data from WWTPs across Wales to identify the types and prevalence of antibiotic degradation pathways. Identify the bacteria carrying AMR genes and assess potential to persistence in marine ecosystems.
  • Compile and integrate of diverse datasets. Consolidate data on antibiotic and AMR pollution, including wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), prescribing data, marine mammal strandings and passive sampling.
  • Field sampling to fill knowledge gaps. Identify key gaps in the existing data and sites for passive sampler deployment and sampling.
  • Identify persistent Antibiotics. Quantify, and characterise persistent antibiotics in WWTP, marine environment and mammals, using exisiting data, fieldwork and laboratory experiments.
  • Investigate pollutant interactions. Assess interactions, antagonistic impacts and parallels between antibiotics and other pollutants in marine ecosystems.
  • Recommendations for Mitigation and Management. Generate evidence-based recommendations for antibiotic pollution in marine ecosystems, including strategies for reducing contamination at source and safeguarding ecosystem health. 


Training will be provided on concepts and methodologies, of each relevant discipline, to ensure the student has a solid grounding in communication, microbiology, data analysis, bioinformatics, chemistry, marine ecology, behaviour, and policy. The training will be consist of formal courses and practical skills, benefitting from diverse expertise in the supervisor team. The student will undertake EDI training, to enable them to host an In2Science/Nuffield student to promote science careers to people form underprivileged backgrounds.

Project Structure

Collaboration among BU (Bangor University), ZSL (Zoological Society of London), UoP (University of Plymouth), and NRW (Natural Resources Wales), is central to the project's success.

  • Literature review to understand the background
  • Bioinformatics analysis of AMR in wastewater datasets, BU
  • Gap analysis, BU.
  • Placement at NRW - operations, policy, and environmental chemistry.
  • AMR analysis of marine mammal tissue samples, ZSL.
  • Analytical chemistry of field and tissue samples, UoP.

Supervisor team

Dr Ellie Jameson a microbial ecologist at BU, Prof Mark Fitzsimons an environmental chemist at UoP, Dr James Waggitt is a marine ecologist at BU, Dr Rosie Williams is an ecotoxicologist at ZSL and Thomaz Andrade is a water policy advisor at NRW. Eligibility

Applicants should have a first or upper second-class honours degree in an appropriate subject and either a relevant masters qualification or a wider range of experience in a relevant career path (which is equally as important).

Each applicant may apply for a studentship on up to three CDT SuMMeR projects. Where more than one project is applied for, the supervisors of all those projects will be made aware that other applications have been made.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and 8 months. All UKRI-funded PhD students (UK, EU, International) will be eligible for the full award – both the stipend to support living costs (£18,622 per academic year at full time equivalent at the 2023/24 rate), and fees at the research organisation’s UK rate. International students are eligible for UKRI-funded postgraduate studentships but UKRI will limit the proportion of international students appointed each year through individual doctoral training programmes to 30% of the intake per cohort. CDT SuMMeR’s funding will not cover international fees set by universities; applicants normally required to pay international fees may have to cover the difference between the home and the international tuition fee rates (approximately £12,697 per annum). Please enquire with the lead supervisor on the situation regarding international fees for the project you are interested in. CDT SuMMeR’s funding will not cover costs associated with visa application or health surcharges, or additional costs associated with entry to, and living in, the UK. For EU and international eligibility for UKRI studentships, see UKRI’s guidance.

In case of uncertainty, applicants should contact the planned university of registration for eligibility advice, or the CDT SuMMeR Programme Office: [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Environmental Sciences (13) Politics & Government (30)

Funding Notes

CDT SuMMeR studentships are partially funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which applies the eligibility criteria laid down by its parent body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and co-funded by the respective Hosting Partner institutes. UKRI provides details on its training grants in its Terms and Conditions for Training Funding document, including its Training Grant Guide, which can be found on the UKRI website.