£6,000 FindAPhD Scholarship | APPLICATIONS CLOSING SOON! £6,000 FindAPhD Scholarship | APPLICATIONS CLOSING SOON!

Developing new methods for the characterisation of nanoplastics in solids and liquids


   School of Civil Engineering

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  Dr Elizabeth Carter, Prof Abbas El-Zein  Applications accepted all year round

About the Project

Microplastics (MP) and nanoplastics (NP) are persistent polymeric contaminants. They have been found in many ecosystems on Earth, including rivers, forests, agricultural soils, beaches, deep oceans, as well as the food chain and water sources of many species including humans. 60% of all plastic ever produced is now buried in landfills and, recently, municipal waste landfills have been found to be a large sink, and a potential source, of MP/NP.

The aim of this PhD project is to design, test and validate protocols for the measurement of MP/NP in solid and leachate samples. A range of characterisation techniques including dynamic light scattering, vibrational spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (ICP-MS, LC-MS and GC-MS, respectively) will be tested for this project.

This PhD scholarship is available at the Geoenvironmental Laboratory of the University of Sydney, working with Dr Elizabeth Carter at Sydney Analytical and Prof Abbas El-Zein at the School of Civil Engineering, to investigate nano- and microplastics in landfills and surrounding environments.

The opportunity is open to Australian citizens and residents, as well as international students. This is one of two PhD projects currently open, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), and undertaken in collaboration with researchers located at Monash and Deakin Universities as well as Queen’s University in Canada.

Successful applicants must have a BSc or BEng Honours degree or equivalent, with research projects in Chemistry, Physics, Material Science, Civil or Chemical Engineering or a closely related discipline. Preferably, they have experience with one or more of the above listed characterisation techniques. Applicants must have excellent analytical and communication skills, in written and spoken forms. They are able to work both independently and as members of a research team, while demonstrating a collaborative attitude. They are able to write high-quality research proposals and to review, and engage with, interdisciplinary studies. They are driven by curiosity and are highly motivated about working at the interface between fundamental and applied research.

Interested students are advised to email Dr Elizabeth Carter, cc to Prof Abbas El-Zein, following these steps:

  1. write in the email's subject line "Nanoplastic PhD - Expression of Interest",
  2. state in the body of the email why you are interested in this opportunity, and
  3. attach a CV and relevant transcripts, including, for international students from non-English speaking backgrounds, any available results of English testing (e.g., TOEFL etc.).

Funding Notes

Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Scheme
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