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Formula vs Function: Understanding How Different Formulations of Plant Protection Products Impact Toxicity

   Department of Environment and Geography

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  Prof Mark Hodson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

York United Kingdom Biochemistry Ecology Ecotoxicology Hydrology Marine Biology Plant Biology Pollution Soil Science

About the Project

Partner Organisations: HSE and Syngenta

Plant protection products (PPP) containing the same active substance can take many different forms, for example emulsifiable concentrate, wettable powder or suspension concentrate. Regulatory data on every formulation is required before a PPP can be authorised. This project aims to determine when, or even if, so many studies are required, or whether the toxicity of the PPP can be predicted on the basis of the toxicity of the active substance and the formulation type. The supervisory team includes ecotoxicology and fate and behaviour experts (Hodson, Sallach, Sweetman), the agrochemicals industry (Syngenta) and UK regulators (HSE).

The project is novel in that it is aiming to replace conventional ecotoxicity testing with either a modelling approach to toxicity and/or rules of thumb indicating when testing is/isn’t required.

You will develop expertise in performing industry standard aquatic and soil invertebrate and plant ecotoxicology tests, soil and water analysis for organic compounds, fate and behaviour modelling and the risk assessment process within the regulatory environment.


This project is one of 22 projects being advertised by the NERC-funded ECORISC (Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. More information on the CDT can be found at: https://www.york.ac.uk/environment/postgraduate/ecorisc/. Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive unique and outstanding training in pollution science and transferrable skills.

Over the first two years of their PhD programme, you will receive subject-specific training, in: i) ecotoxicology; ii) environmental chemistry; iii) ecology; and iv) risk assessment; and v) the core skills required for an environmental specialist. Successful completion of this training will result in the award of phase 1 of the Certified Environmental Risk Assessor qualification from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The formal training programme will be complemented by yearly residential challenge events, ECORISC annual conferences and tailored specialist skills training conducted as group and individual exercises.

ECORISC students will also be required to undertake two workplace experiences based with our business, policy and regulation, third sector, and research organisation partners.

An inclusive CDT programme

Inclusivity is at the heart of the ECORISC programme. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups and are employing a number of mechanisms, such as the possibility of part-time working, to ensure the programme is open to all. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at [Email Address Removed].

Eligibility and Application process

The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international/EU applicants with at least an upper second class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.

To be considered for this and other PhDs offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available at: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ecorisc-cdt-student-application-202122-2. Applications should be submitted before 17:00 GMT on Monday 3rd January 2022. You will be notified of the outcome of your initial application by Monday 17th January 2022.

Successful applicants will be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application form which will be used to shortlist candidates for an interview.

ECORISC open afternoon

We are running an online ‘open afternoon’ for you to learn more about the CDT or to ask questions on the programme or the application process. This event will run from 1400-1630 GMT on the 9th December 2021 and booking details can be found on our website at: https://www.york.ac.uk/environment/postgraduate/ecorisc/

Funding Notes

Fully funded studentship at UKRI rates. Funding available for Home and International candidates. Tuition fees at UK rate and stipend (currently £15,609 a year)
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