Measuring and modelling the dermal bioavailability of organic compounds in soil for human health risk assessment of brownfield land (fully funded fees and stipend for UK applicants)

   University of Nottingham

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  Prof C. P Nathanail, Dr C Vane, Dr D Beriro, Prof R Thomas  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This PhD studentship presents a unique opportunity to develop the field of organic geochemistry and risk-based land management working with a supervisory team of globally acknowledged thought leaders based at the British Geological Survey and the University of Nottingham. You will develop in vitro laboratory methods to measure dermal bioavailability of organic soil contaminants and apply the finding to predictive numerical modelling to improve understanding of process controls. The project is part of a programme of industry led research into potential uptake of organic soil contaminants funded by National Grid Property Holdings and includes an internship at WSP-PB, a world leading geoenvironmental consultancy. You will benefit from an extensive training programme within the University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey. The applied nature of the PhD means that this research project will provide you with an excellent chance of post-study employment in acedemia, government or the private sector. Candidates will be short listed for interview. Applicants are encouraged to include a CV when they contact the project team.

Background to the project
This PhD project is part of a programme of industry led research into human exposure to potentially harmful organic compounds in soil funded by National Grid Property Holdings (NGPH). The PhD studentship has three aims: i) to optimise an in vitro method to quantify the human dermal bioavailability of selected organic contaminants in soil; ii) to validate the results using publicly available in vivo study data; and iii) use measured physico-chemical soil properties to develop, test and evaluate numerical models to predict dermal bioavailability, explaining which factors might be responsible for the release of contaminants from soil into and through human skin. While there have been comprehensive studies on dermal bioavailability of pure compounds, the effect of soil on dermal absorption of contaminants is poorly understood resulting in overly conservative risk assessments. This PhD is both novel and relevant to Government policies on innovation science and brownfield redevelopment. This is important because brownfield forms a critical global resource intrinsically linked to peoples’ homes and wellbeing while urbanisation means more people living on post-industrial land.

The research will reduce uncertainty associated with the dermal exposure pathway in multi-pathway exposure models used for assessing risks to human health – dermal bioavailability is poorly and inconsistently represented in these models. The research outputs are expected to facilitate the redevelopment of former industrial land for housing / commercial/industrial uses.

The project presents an excellent opportunity for the student to learn from and contribute to world-leading expertise from the University of Nottingham, British Geological Survey, WSP

PB and NGPH. The Lead Supervisor is responsible for significant contributions to UK human health risk assessment guidance. BGS is a world leading geological survey and research organisation at the forefront of bioavailabilty research. NGPH own and manage a portfolio of former gasworks currently undergoing investigation, remediation and redevelopment and WSP

PB are a leading international geoenvironmental consultancy.

Industry advisors will provide a practical dimension to the research by offering the student an internship that reflects the student’s preferences and needs. This will provide insight into how science is applied in practice and opportunities to enhance the economic, social and environmental impact of the research. On-the-job training at BGS will include: good laboratory practice, sample preparation and pre-treatment, extraction and clean-up of analytes, use of gas chromatography mass spectrometer (GC-MS/MS), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis and other physico-chemical methods, analytical data work-up and data quality assurance and quality control. Structured training from the University of Nottingham will include Year 1, 2 and 3 PhD courses as well as specialist post-graduate courses on risk assessment; BGS will provide courses on statistical programming language ‘R’, applied geo-statistics and access to the Learning and Development skills catalogue. The student would also be strongly encouraged to present international conferences.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be entitled to a full-time yearly stipend at RCUK rates (circa £14,296 for 2016/17) plus Home/EU tuition fees. These rates are updated each year and thus are subject to change. International tuition fees are substantially more and the studentship does not provide additional funding to cover these.

The applicant will hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level in subjects such as Chemistry, Environmental Geoscience or Natural Sciences. A post-graduate qualification is desirable as is some industrial experience. A strong foundation in chemistry would be advantageous.


References should be provided on the candidate's CV.
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