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Mechanistic Understanding of the Basis of Pollutant Effects Across Species


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  Prof David Spurgeon, Prof Peter Kille, Dr Stephen Short, Dr Roman Ashauer  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Lancaster United Kingdom Bioinformatics Environmental Chemistry Pollution Zoology

About the Project

PhD opportunity based at the UK Centre for Ecology Lancaster with degree award from Cardiff University

The project will investigate the biology that determines how different invertebrate species (e.g. earthworms, nematodes, insects) respond to pollutant exposure. The project will work at the cutting edge of experimental, mechanistic and theoretical ecotoxicology under the supervision of experts in these complementary fields. The project is novel because it seeks the coalescence of two different approaches to assessing chemical impacts on ecological species: the molecular biology approach and the systems level physiology and modelling approach. Unifying these two aspects will allow the student to understand how species respond to different types of pollutant exposure (e.g. pesticides, metals, chemicals in plastics) and what the population impacts will be.

The student will receive training in many highly valued areas of experimental ecotoxicology, including high throughput bioassays, bioimaging techniques, biochemical and molecular genetics for chemical mode of action assessment and physiological modelling. All are fields at the leading edge of ecotoxicological research and are highly valued in academic research, chemical management and translational ecotoxicology and chemical assessment work. The project will be based at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UK CEH) in Oxfordshire (one of the UK leading environmental science research institutes in the UK), and will provide opportunities to spend extended time working at Cardiff University and Syngenta’s research hubs in Jealotts Hill (UK) and Basel (Switzerland).


This project is one of 22 projects being advertised by the NERC-funded ECORISC (Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. More information on the CDT can be found at: https://www.york.ac.uk/environment/postgraduate/ecorisc/. Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months.

Over the first two years of their PhD programme, you will receive training in ecotoxicology; environmental chemistry, ecology; and risk assessment. Successful completion of this training will result in the award of phase 1 of the Certified Environmental Risk Assessor qualification from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The formal training programme will be complemented by residential events, an ECORISC annual conferences and skills training. You will also be asked to undertake two workplace experiences with our business, policy and regulation, third sector, and research 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. Any questions please 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.

To be considered for this and other ECORISC PhDs, you should initially complete an online application at: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ecorisc-cdt-student-application-202122-2. Applications should be submitted before 17:00 GMT on Monday 3rd January 2022. You will be notified of the outcome of your initial application by Monday 17th January 2022.

Successful applicants will then be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application from which candidates will be shortlisted for interview.


ECORISC open afternoon

We are running an online ‘open afternoon’ for you to learn more about the CDT and application process. This event will run from 1400-1630 GMT on the 9th December 2021 and booking details can be found on our website at: https://www.york.ac.uk/environment/postgraduate/ecorisc/

Funding Notes

The studentship is funded under the NERC-sponsored ECORISC. Full details at the end of this advert. This award provides annual funding to cover tuition fees and a tax-free stipend of £15,609 per year tax-free stipend.
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