Globally, the contamination of groundwater from geogenic (e.g. arsenic, fluoride) as well as emerging pollutants is a major public health and economic concern exacerbated by challenges such as increasing groundwater reliance and climate change. The provision of safe drinking water supplies is a major development target included in the Sustainable Development Goals. However, effective and sustainable groundwater remediation remains very challenging, with a clear need for improved decision support systems for remediation selection and management.
The aim of this PhD project is to contribute to the development and validation of robust data, tools and systems for the selection and/or management of groundwater remediation strategies in one or more strategically selected areas in the Global South impacted by local groundwater quality challenges. The project could be approached from several different angles. Example research topics/projects include:
- How can remediation selection be optimized for different geochemical (e.g. groundwater composition, remediation targets), regulatory and socio-economic settings to support remediation decisions for the removal of groundwater arsenic and other contaminants (inorganic, organic, microbial)
- How can artificial intelligence offer robust solutions for improved understanding of contaminant distribution and groundwater remediation?
- How can holistic cost-benefit systems approaches be developed and contextualized to locally-relevant contaminant exposure (water, food) challenges in the Global South?
- How can community science be utilized as an effective tool for improved and increased scale of data/sample collection, knowledge exchange and impact increasing uptake or integration of local-scale remediation strategies?
Students are also encouraged to suggest their own related project. Multiple projects are available. There is a particular geographical interest in projects focussed on East Africa, India and South America.
Depending on project remit, this PhD research will involve one or more aspects of theory (e.g. geochemical, decision science), field (e.g. sampling design/collection), laboratory (e.g. sample preparation/analysis; experiments) and/or modelling (e.g. multi-criteria decision analysis, agent-based, statistical) approaches. The project will start with a detailed literature survey to inform a well-designed set of novel research questions and plans. The research workplan will be executed through the design, development, implementation and interpretation of models, field surveys and/or laboratory work. An interdisciplinary approach will be highly encouraged.
Self-funded opportunities are available and suitable applications for scholarships will be supported for consideration through other funding schemes (including the Postgraduate Research Teaching Associate (PGRTA) scholarship; see https://www.se.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/funding/teaching-associate-scholarship) for interested and eligible candidates.
The proposed PhD projects build upon a strong track record within the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, as supported by The Leverhulme Trust (ECF2015-657), NERC (NE/R003386/1 & DST/TM/INDO-UK/2K17/55(C) & 55(G); NE/J023833/1) and EPSRC. Our research is multidisciplinary and highly collaborative nationally (e.g. British Geological Survey, University of Birmingham, St George’s University of London) and internationally (e.g. India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Chile and Argentina). Our ongoing research and collaborations – especially through the Indo-UK Water Quality project FAR-GANGA (www.farganga.org) provide an excellent foundation for the PhD project(s).
This PhD will be based in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The University of Manchester (https://www.ees.manchester.ac.uk/). The student will benefit from world-leading academic expertise and excellent research facilities available within the Williamson Research Centre for Molecular Environmental Science and through collaborators. Numerous researcher training and development opportunities are available. Student visits to other institutions through schemes such as the Turing scheme will be encouraged depending on project remit. There will be multiple opportunities for collaboration, presenting research and (co-)authoring scientific publication(s). The student will develop an excellent skill set – including scientific and analytical/technical skills, and key professional competencies like problem solving, critical thinking, communication, project management, self-management and teamwork.
The PhD supervisorial team is Dr. Laura Richards and Prof. David Polya (others may be included if and as appropriate). Prof. Prosun Bhattacharya of KTH (Sweden) is an additional potential external collaborator/supervisor depending on project remit.
Successful candidates will have a strong background (Masters / BSc) in environmental/chemical/geological sciences, environmental/chemical engineering or similar. Strong candidates will be highly motivated, independent, hard-working and curious, with a strong interest in research. Demonstrable experience in aspects of data analysis, fieldwork, laboratory work, problem solving, critical thinking and scientific writing is advantageous. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential. Previous research experience is highly desired.
Please contact Dr. Laura Richards (email@example.com ) for further information. Nominations for consideration for internal funding schemes will be put forward for highly competitive candidates and are subject to scheme conditions and deadlines. Self-funded positions have no deadline.
To make an application please visit - https://www.ees.manchester.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/
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