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Mesocosm Experiments to Integrate Landscape-Scale Factors into Future Directions for Pesticide Risk Assessment


   Department of Environment and Geography

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  Prof Colin Brown  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

York United Kingdom Biochemistry Biodiversity Ecotoxicology Hydrology Marine Biology Plant Biology Pollution

About the Project

Partner Organisation: Fera Science Ltd

This CASE PhD is strongly led by stakeholder needs (Fera Science Ltd, Chemicals Regulation Directorate) and includes time spent with both organisations based in York. The project combines long-term mesocosm experiments within a unique experimental facility (E-flows mesocosms) with correlative analysis of landscape-scale data. The overall aim is to provide proof-of-concept for incorporating landscape-scale factors and ecological recovery into pesticide risk assessment, using aquatic plants as the basis for the research. The project is supported by leading experts from different disciplines, creating the opportunity for excellent training and a genuine influence on future practice. Existing data and models from the Water Friendly Farming project will be used to inform the design of two years of mesocosm experimentation. These experiments will investigate the effects of landscape-scale processes on risks to aquatic ecosystems from exposure to pesticides. For example, this could include study into effects of exposure to mixtures of pesticides, processes of recovery from chemical impact, and/or spatial and temporal variation in both patterns of exposure and sensitivity of aquatic assemblages. The project will make recommendations for how to strengthen future risk assessment procedures. A clear framework of activities has been established for year 1, providing space for the student to develop skills and understanding across the multi-disciplinary aspects of this project, and to generate research hypotheses for experiments starting in Year 2. There is considerable freedom for the student to determine the project direction thereafter.

Healthy aquatic plants are a cornerstone for healthy aquatic ecosystems. This project will generate fundamental science to improve future pesticide risk assessments. The novelty lies in the combination of long-term field experiments in the E-flows mesocosms and a landscape-scale investigation into the ecology, distribution and chemical exposure of aquatic macrophytes.

You will develop experimental ecotoxicology skills working alongside Fera Science Ltd in the world-class E-flows mesocosm facility in York. In parallel, expertise will be developed in landscape ecology, ecological data analysis, pesticide exposure science, and regulatory science. This ambition is facilitated by drawing on existing data and models from the Water Friendly Farming project. The multidisciplinary skill set that will be developed is very attractive to future employers within regulatory, industrial and academic sectors.

The ECORISC CDT

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. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive unique and outstanding training in pollution science and transferrable skills.

Over the first two years of their PhD programme, you will receive subject-specific training, in: i) ecotoxicology; ii) environmental chemistry; iii) ecology; and iv) risk assessment; and v) the core skills required for an environmental specialist. 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 yearly residential challenge events, ECORISC annual conferences 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. 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 PhDs offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available 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 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 or to ask questions on the programme or the 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

Fully funded studentship at UKRI rates. Funding available for Home and International candidates. .Tuition fees at UK rate and stipend (currently £15,609 a year)
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