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Implications of agriculture derived pollution in soil biodiversity

   Cardiff School of Biosciences

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  Dr P Orozco Ter Wengel  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project Outline

This project is at the intersection of ecotoxicology, biodiversity and agriculture. The project’s novelty is the application of state-of-the-art ecotoxicology methods and genomics to understand the impact and implications of agriculture-derived pollution in soil biodiversity.

To achieve this the student will carry out field work in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) where soil samples will be collected across oil palm plantations and tropical forest to i) characterise the presence and spatial distribution of polluting chemicals derived from agricultural practices, ii) characterise the soil diversity using metagenomic approaches, and iii) link the outcomes of (i) and (ii) with oil palm productivity.

The student will develop skills in 1) tropical field work (field; Cardiff University’s Danau Girang Field Centre in Borneo), 2) ecotoxicology (field and lab; Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), 3) phylogenetics (lab; Cardiff University), 4) statistics and bioinformatics (all supervisors), and other relevant and transferable skills (e.g. risk assessment, time management) offered by the ECORISK CDT and by Cardiff University’s Doctoral Academy.

Supervisor: Dr Pablo Orozco-terWengel

Host organisation: Cardiff University

Partner Organisation: Joint Nature Conservation Committee (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 ECORISC 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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