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Lost at sea – distribution, impacts and policy interventions of marine cigarette butt litter

   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr Dannielle Green  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

PhD Studentship (Fee waiver and Bursary)

School of Life Sciences

Cambridge Campus

Fixed term contract for 3 years, commencing Sept. 2022.

Bursary of £16,062 per annum and a full fee-waiver for UK tuition fees.

Closing date: 06th June 2022

Interview date: 16th June 2022

About Anglia Ruskin University:

Anglia Ruskin is a vibrant workplace and our University is recognised both nationally and internationally. We have ambitious plans for the future and we are determined that our students and staff will realise their full potential. Our main campuses in the cities of Cambridge, Chelmsford, London and Peterborough have been transformed with major capital investment. With an annual turnover of over £200m, we are a major force for higher education and one of the largest universities in the East of England.

About the position:

Approximately 6 trillion cigarettes are smoked globally each year and two-thirds are littered, making cigarette butts (CBs) one of the most common litter items worldwide and the most common litter item on beaches. Indeed, there has been a 1000% increase in annual CB litter on UK beaches over the past 25 years and, collectively, the clean-up costs the UK ~£40 million each year. Once in the water, it is thought that CBs quickly become saturated and sink to the seafloor, making their distribution and spread difficult to monitor. Compared to other single-use plastics, this major environmental problem does not get the research and policy attention it deserves. We need to understand where the CBs are accumulating in the marine environment, what impact they are having on marine organisms and what are the policy assumptions being proposed locally, nationally, and internationally to tackle CB litter?

This PhD project will include a mixture of fieldwork, laboratory experiments and desk-based research including distribution modelling and GIS mapping.

Although the project is interdisciplinary, crossing boundaries of ecology, ecotoxicology and social sciences, experience of research in ecology and/or ecotoxicology is essential. Furthermore experience in running aquatic mesocosm experiments would be an advantage.

About the Studentship:

A 3-year studentship is offered, intended to start in Sept. 2022, providing a tax-free stipend of £16,062 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK rate. Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is only available as a full-time position and to candidates classified as “home students” paying UK fees. 

Project location: Cambridge campus and possibility of overseas fieldwork.

Candidates for this PhD Studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD within 3 years. 


Applicants should have a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant discipline and either a relevant level 7 (or equivalent) qualification (e.g., Masters degree) or relevant experience in working in a research environment (e.g. as a research assistant). An IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (or equivalent) is essential for candidates for whom English is not their first language.

In addition to satisfying basic entry criteria, the University will look closely at the qualities, skills, and background of each candidate and what they can bring to their chosen research project in order to ensure successful and timely completion.

How to apply:

To apply, please complete the application form available from the following website: https://aru.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/animal-and-environmental-sciences.

Please ensure the reference ‘PhD Studentship: Lost at Sea – Distribution, Impacts and Policy Interventions of Marine Cigarette Butt Litter’ is clearly stated on the application form, under the title ‘Outline of your proposed research’. Within this section of the application form, applicants should include a 500-word outline of the skills that they would bring to this research project.

Interested applicants should direct initial queries about the project to Dr Dannielle Green via email: [Email Address Removed]. For enquiries regarding the process and eligibility please contact [Email Address Removed].

Interviews are scheduled to take place on Thursday 16 June 2022. 

Closing date: 06th June 2022.

We value diversity at Anglia Ruskin University and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

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