Hexavalent chromium formation and fate in bushfire-impacted soils.
Expressions of interest are invited for a PhD position in the Environmental Geochemistry & Mineralogy group of Prof Ed Burton at Southern Cross University, Australia. This group forms part of the vibrant Southern Cross GeoScience centre, based at the University’s Lismore campus in eastern Australia.
Bushfires are a global phenomenon which impact vast areas of the Australian continent every year. They are predicted to become even more frequent and severe into the future due to climate change. Recent research indicates that heating of natural (unpolluted) surface soil during bushfires can drive the formation of hexavalent chromium, a hazardous cancer-causing toxin. However, little is known of the processes and factors which govern the extent of hexavalent chromium formation or its associated fate in Australia’s diverse fire-prone landscapes.
As part of a larger team, the successful candidate will contribute to the development of novel approaches to investigate the environmental geochemistry of chromium in relation to mineral transformations in bushfire-impacted soil, sediment and aquatic systems. You will conduct laboratory and field studies on selected bushfire-relevant geochemical and mineralogical transformation processes and their influence on chromium behaviour, using state-of-the-art experimental and analytical techniques including stable isotope tracers, synchrotron spectroscopy, Mössbauer spectroscopy, and others. This will provide novel insights into the cycling of chromium in the environment. The outcomes will have direct implications for environmental risk assessment, contaminated site remediation, water quality management, and other fields. More broadly, this project will expand our understanding of the effects of climate change on metal-mineral interactions in soil systems.
The ideal candidate is highly motivated for scientific research in environmental geochemistry and mineralogy with a special interest in the fate of inorganic contaminants. Applicants must hold an MSc degree (or equivalent) in environmental sciences, soil sciences, geo-ecology, geology, geochemistry, mineralogy, chemistry, or a related natural science discipline. Good knowledge of spoken and written English as well as excellent communication and team skills are expected.
Applications must include a CV, academic grade transcripts, copies of previous research outputs and a cover letter outlining a summary of your research experience, your reasons for wanting to do a PhD and information on how your skills will be relevant to the project (email to [Email Address Removed]). This project aims to officially start in the first quarter of 2020, but there is some flexibility with the exact starting date (upon mutual agreement).
Contact: Prof Ed Burton, [Email Address Removed]
Successful candidates will be offered a full-time PhD position and the project includes scholarship ($27,600 AUD pa), fee-waiver and an additional stipend to cover research costs of up to $5000 AUD pa will be available. Contingent on satisfactory performance, this will be extended to a total period of 3 years.