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Discovery and monitoring emerging contaminants in run-off from modern urban built infrastructure made from recycled material in the local aquatic environment (fresh water, estuarine, groundwater).

   Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience

  Dr Ivan Kourtchev, Prof Sue Charlesworth, Dr Damien Callahan, Dr Will Gates  Thursday, October 20, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Waste resources, repurposed for infrastructure materials such as cements, re-formed plastics and the like, can potentially contain significant levels of emerging contaminants (ECs) that may pose a risk to the local environment in which they are installed. Despite best efforts and considerations, park benches, roads and building products made from recycled materials may unintentionally release contaminants into the environment. Also, the waste streams used to create these products change over time. Understanding the variability and potential risk that these materials provide is essential for the circular economy and chemical safety in urban environments. The project will focus on surveying a variety of infrastructure materials containing recycled components, assessing the potential for contamination from these materials and methods that may mitigate the transfer of contaminants.

Aim 1: A survey of the waste stream cycles is required to determine potential repurposed target materials which are at risk of leaching contaminants into the local environment. For example, carpets can contain high levels of ECs and are considered for recycling into concretes and roads. 

Aim 2: Targeted chemical analysis of potential contaminants from materials and surrounding areas (eg soil, urban waterways) from in situ materials.

Aim 3: Lab based stability studies to determine leaching rates, partitioning and transfer mechanisms of identified contaminants.

Applicants must meet the admission and scholarship criteria for both Coventry University and Deakin University for entry to the cotutelle programme.  

This includes;  

  • Applicants should have graduated within the top 15% of their undergraduate cohort. This might include a high 2:1 in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark (80% for Australian graduates) in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average (80% for Australian graduates). 
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 80%. Please note that where a candidate has 70-79% and can provide evidence of research experience to meet equivalency to the minimum first-class honours equivalent (80%+) additional evidence can be submitted and may include independently peer-reviewed publications, research-related awards or prizes and/or professional reports. 
  •  Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).  
  •  The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.  

 For an overview of each University’s entry requirements please visit:  

Please note that it is essential that applicants confirm that they are able to physically locate to both Coventry University (England) and Deakin University (Australia)

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Will Gates (DU) and Dr Iven Kourtchev

Application Process

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus an up to 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project. 

All candidates must apply to both Universities.

For the Coventry application, please visit: 

For the Deakin application, please visit:

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