About the Project
Approach:We want to achieve frequent sensing of our waters by developing simple-to-use and low-cost chemical sensor devices which can then be operated by members of the public allowing us to gather chemical data through Citizen Science. The readouts from our devices will be captured through a phone camera and uploaded through an app. From this data, we can build a picture of a larger area and more time points – impossible to achieve by sending expert scientists into the field in isolated locations at isolated time points. We have previously developed paper-based analytical devices (PADs) for colour readout of nutrients in freshwater at ppm level. The user simply dips the PAD into a water sample. The liquid then wicks up inside and interacts with our pre-loaded substrates. These substrates change colour when they react with the analyte of interest. The user then takes a photograph and uploads it. Such paper devices are cheap to manufacture and lightweight and can thus be distributed easily and can be easily disposed.
Scope of PhD project:In this project, we want to access pharmaceuticals accumulating in the environment. We will design and test an environmental sensor system for both pre-concentration and readout of pollutants in our water systems. It is now well established that many pharmaceuticals are present in the environment at ppb levels. We will focus on compounds that are frequently detected, including antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Colour readout with substrates embedded in the paper devices works well in the ppm to high ppb range. To assess analytes at lower concentrations for on-site measurement, we will develop simple-to-use push filters that can interface with the PADs. We will trial filter materials with different surface functionalisation and porosities and try different strategies to interface the filter with the captured pollutant to the readout PAD. To ensure our devices and workflows are fit for citizen-led sampling, we will liaise with local volunteer groups, such as the Canal and Rivers Trust, and international partners in Africa and Southeast Asia enabling the student to develop extensive skills in science communication with a range of cultural groups. Our obtained data will enable a deeper understanding of the source, transport, and persistence of environmental contaminants.
See the Panorama website (https://panorama-dtp.ac.uk/research/developing-chemical-sensors-for-environmental-citizen-science/) for more information on the Project, the Supervisory Team, training and the working environment.
Student ProfileThe key requisite is an enthusiasm to immerse yourself into a multidisciplinary research environment. We bring together environmental sciences with chemistry and science communication. The position will suit a student with a degree in chemistry, biochemistry, environmental sciences or a related discipline and you should normally have, or expect to obtain, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or international equivalent (https://www.hull.ac.uk/choose-hull/study-at-hull/international/country-search.aspx))).
The application deadline is Tuesday 5th January 2021, and interviews will take place in late February.
Please see the Panorama website (View Website) for full information on funding and how to apply.
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