EPSRC PhD studentship in: Achieving biologically stable drinking water

   Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

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  Prof J Boxall, Prof Peter Jarvis  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

EPSRC PhD studentship in: Achieving biologically stable drinking water

4-years tax-free stipend of £19,000 per year and all tuition fees paid (for applicants with UK residency and for exceptional overseas applicants)

A partnership between The University of Sheffield, Sheffield Water Centre, The Cranfield University and UK Water Industry Research, as part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience (WIRe)

Closing Date for Applications: 11th July 2021

Start Date: 27th September 2021 (contract duration 4 years)

Interview date: 19th July 2021

This funded studentship provides an unrivalled opportunity to undertake applied biological research pushing the frontiers of our understanding of drinking water quality. You will conduct research using UKRIC national centres of excellence in treatment and pipe networks at Sheffield and Cranfield universities as well as field work with UK water companies. Key to success will be the selection, development and application of the latest techniques to characterise treated drinking waters in terms of biological stability. Techniques to be explored include assimilable organic carbon, flow cytometry, ATP, biofilm forming potential and sequencing.

Biological stability of drinking water is an increasingly considered concept. However, its definition, assessment and practical application remains complex and uncertain. The microbiome (quantity and composition) of our drinking water is a function of the characteristics of the source water (e.g. nutrient concentrations, biocide residuals) and the effectiveness of treatment processes, especially regarding AOC residual concentrations. But degradation of microbial water quality primarily occurs within the vast pipe networks of drinking water distribution systems and in premises plumbing. Thus this research will take a source to tap approach to understand the complex range of abiotic influences on the microbial quality of water received by customers.

By understanding how to produce and maintain biologically stable water we will reduce reliance on chemical based disinfection processes and look to offset climate change impacts such as warmer water temperature and lower quality raw water. We will also better understand how best to manage our distribution networks to minimise the risk of deterioration. The knowledge developed will be captured in a decision support tool, and by identifying and recommending best practice.

This four year PhD programme benefits from being part of WIRe (Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Infrastructure and Resilience), a collaboration between the three leading UK Universities in water resilient infrastructure. Students will benefit from bespoke training delivered by world leading authorities from academia and industry, access to world leading experimental and computational facilities as well as close and regular contact with industry and end user partners. Resources are available for international collaboration and conference attendance. WIRe is committed to promoting a diverse and inclusive community, and offer a range of family friendly, inclusive policies. For further information on the CDT WIRe scheme visit: https://cdtwire.com/.


The project will be supervised by Prof Joby Boxall at the University of Sheffield and Prof Peter Jarvis at Cranfield University in collaboration with UK Water Industry Research represented by John Haley. The normal place of work is expected to be at the University of Sheffield, with regular interaction with Cranfield University and UK Water Company field sites. Travel and subsistence costs are provided.

Eligibility Criteria

This studentship is supported by EPSRC WIRe CDT and the University of Sheffield. It is open to all students with UK residency. There is potentially to extended the funding for overseas studentship fees and stipend for exceptional applicants.

Selection Criteria

The selection criteria are a good first degree in relevant engineering or science discipline and enthusiasm for the topic area.

How to apply

Interested candidates should email a covering letter and their Curriculum Vitae to Miss Lindsay Hopcroft ([Email Address Removed]).

For information and informal enquiries please contact: Prof Joby Boxall ([Email Address Removed])

Biological Sciences (4) Engineering (12)

Funding Notes

4-years tax-free stipend of £19,000 per year and all tuition fees paid (for applicants with UK residency and for exceptional overseas applicants)

Where will I study?

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