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  Geological Fate and Impact of Isosaccharinic acid (Geo-FISA)


   Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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  Prof J Lloyd, Dr Naji Bassil, Dr Thomas Neill, Prof K Morris, Prof S Shaw  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

About the project

The nuclear fuel cycle has generated higher-level radioactive wastes that will be disposed of in a deep geological facility (GDF) that will provide multiple barriers to the migration of radionuclides to the surface over prolonged timescales (tens of thousands of years). Isosaccharinic acid (ISA) is an organic ligand that is produced from the abiotic hydrolysis of cellulosic material found in Low Heat Generating (Intermediate Level Radioactive) Wastes (LHGW) [Glaus & van Loon, 2008]. Our studies showed that microbes can degrade ISA under GDF-relevant conditions [Bassil et al., 2014] and this process can lead to the precipitation of priority radionuclides [Kuippers et al., 2021].

This is an interdisciplinary research project combining geomicrobiology, microbial genomics, radiochemistry and mineralogy, and will study ISA degradation in dynamic flowthrough systems using state of the art techniques including shotgun metagenomics, XRF, XAS, confocal microscopy, ESEM, and TEM. The successful applicant will join a welcoming cohort of 40+ interdisciplinary researchers working in two recently refurbished and co-located centres in the Dept of Earth and Environmental Sciences, co-directed by the PI and co-supervisors (Lloyd, Morris and Shaw). The student will have access to a large suite of dedicated laboratories within the Williamson Research Centre for Molecular Environmental Sciences (WRC; directed by Lloyd), which houses state of the art equipment for molecular environmental studies and sits alongside the new £4M NNUF RADER labs (https://www.nnuf.ac.uk/rader) directed by Morris, offering unique complementary facilities for handling and analysing radionuclides in nuclear environmental systems.

Academic background of candidates

Applicants are expected to hold, or about to obtain, a minimum upper second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geosciences, Microbiology or a closely related discipline. A Masters degree in a relevant subject is highly desirable and experience in handling and analysis of environmental samples is also desirable.

Before you apply 

We strongly recommend that you contact the lead supervisor for this project before you apply. 

Before you formally apply please send a cover letter and CV to Jonathan Lloyd ([Email Address Removed]), Naji Bassil ([Email Address Removed])

How to apply 

To be considered for this project you’ll need to complete a formal application through our online application portal

When applying, you’ll need to specify the full name of this project, the name of the PhD (Environmental Science (academic programme) and PhD Environmental Science (academic plan), the name of your supervisor, details of your previous study, and names and contact details of two referees

Your application will not be processed without all of the required documents submitted at the time of application, and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered.  

If you have any questions about making an application, please contact our admissions team by emailing [Email Address Removed]

Equality, diversity and inclusion 

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact.

We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status. 

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Geology (18) Materials Science (24)

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year PhD studentship funded by Nuclear Waste Services and the GREEN CDT. The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend (standard UKRI rate), and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.
Applications are restricted to UK and Eligible EU applicants only (EU applicants will need settled/pre-settled status and 3 Years UK residency).
We have start dates available in September 2022

References

• Glaus MA, Van Loon, LR. 2008. Degradation of cellulose under alkaline conditions: New insights from a 12 years degradation study. Environ. Sci. Technol. 42:2906-2911
• Bassil NM, Bryan N, Lloyd JR. 2014. Microbial degradation of isosaccharinic acid at high pH. ISME J. 9:310-320
• Kuippers G, Morris K, Townsend LT, Bots P, Kvashnina K, Bryan ND, Lloyd JR. 2021. Biomineralization of uranium-phosphates fueled by microbial degradation of isosaccharinic acid (ISA). Environ. Sci. Technol. 55:4597-4606

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