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Impact of toxic metal contamination on freshwater snails using an ecogenomics approach: lessons for future mitigation of freshwater resources.

   Cardiff School of Biosciences

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  Dr Isa-Rita Russo  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project Outline

This multidisciplinary project will investigate the effects of toxic metal contamination in freshwater ecosystems in South Africa and will provide essential data on downstream freshwater pollution for future mitigation measures. The project will utilise a series of chemical analyses, ecological experiments under laboratory conditions, statistical/GIS analyses, and molecular methods (DNA barcoding, whole genome sequencing).

These approaches will be used in combination to validate the use of freshwater snails as bioindicator species in ecological monitoring to access environmental health and the biogeographic changes that are taking place in the environment. Investigating snail genomes at the DNA methylome level will contribute to the understanding of the transcriptional and regulatory potential of genomic DNA.

The student will develop strong field techniques and analytical skills with a focus on epigenetics and the associated bioinformatics. The student will become an expert in molecular laboratory skills and toxicity experimental design. All are fields at the cutting edge of ecotoxicological research. A policy placement will provide the student with the ability to apply their scientific understanding.

Supervisor: Dr Isa-Rita Russo

Host organisation: Cardiff University

Partner Organisation: JNCC


This project is one of 21 projects being advertised by the NERC-funded ECORISC (Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. 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 transferable skills.

Over the first two years of the PhD programme, you will receive subject-specific training, in: i) ecotoxicology; ii) environmental chemistry; iii) ecology; and iv) risk assessment; and v) core skills required for an environmental specialist. The formal training programme will be complemented by yearly residential challenge events 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. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process. 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 PhD’s offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available on the ECRORISC PhD Studentships web page. Applications should be submitted before 17:00 (British Summer Time) on Friday 9th December 2022. You will be notified of the outcome of the process by 17:00 Thursday 22nd December 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 and to ask questions on the programme or the application process. This event will run from 14:00-16:00 GMT on Wednesday 16th November 2022 and booking details can be found on the ECORISC website.

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