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  Microplastics and Nanoplastics as Emerging Risk Factors in Neurodevelopmental and Neurodegenerative Condition

   Department of Biomedical Sciences

   Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Project Overview:

Microplastics (MPs) and nanoplastics (NPs) are ubiquitous environmental pollutants raising concerns due to their potential adverse effects on human health. MPs/NPs accumulate in various tissues of both animals and humans and are neurotoxic. In the past few decades there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions coinciding with increasing MP/NP pollution, leading to the hypothesis that MPs/NPs might act as risk factors in developing neurological conditions.

Using in vivo (nematode Caenorhabditis elegans) and in vitro (cell culture) models, this project will investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the neurotoxic effects of MPs/NPs. The nematode model is an excellent platform for investigating the impact of MPs/NPs on the developing and aging nervous system, a key regulator of both physiology and behaviour. The nematode studies will be complemented by in vitro cellular models of MP/NP toxicity with the aim to identify differentially regulated signalling pathways that could contribute to the development and progression of neurodevelopmental (e.g. ASD, ADHD) and neurodegenerative (e.g. Alzheimer's, Parkinson's) conditions.

By elucidating these mechanisms, we aim to unravel the complex relationship between plastic pollution and neurological health, paving the way for innovative strategies in disease treatment.

To achieve the aims of this interdisciplinary project, we are seeking a highly motivated individual who will work at the intersection of environmental science, toxicology and neuroscience. They will learn a diverse array of techniques across genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, and behavioural analysis using multiple model systems and will become part of a vibrant international collaborative research group.


Kevei research group:

The Kevei group is focusing on investigating ageing and ageing related diseases using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans model complemented by cellular models with a special focus on Parkinson’s disease. The research group is currently composed of 3-4 PhD students, plus Masters and undergraduate students and benefits from the collaborative research environment of the University of Reading Agriculture, Food and Health theme and from UK-based and international collaborations.


School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading:

The University of Reading, located west of London, England, provides world-class research education programs. The University’s main Whiteknights Campus is set in 130 hectares of beautiful parkland, a 30-minute train ride to central London and 40 minutes from London Heathrow airport. 

Our School of Biological Sciences conducts high-impact research, tackling current global challenges faced by society and the planet. Our research ranges from understanding and improving human health and combating disease, through to understanding evolutionary processes and uncovering new ways to protect the natural world. In 2020, we moved into a stunning new ~£60 million Health & Life Sciences building. This state-of-the-art facility is purpose-built for science research and teaching. It houses the Cole Museum of Zoology, a café and social spaces.

In the School of Biological Sciences, you will be joining a vibrant community of ~180 PhD students representing ~40 nationalities. Our students publish in high-impact journals, present at international conferences, and organise a range of exciting outreach and public engagement activities.

During your PhD at the University of Reading, you will expand your research knowledge and skills, receiving supervision in one-to-one and small group sessions. You will have access to cutting-edge technology and learn the latest research techniques. We also provide dedicated training in important transferable skills that will support your career aspirations. If English is not your first language, the University's excellent International Study and Language Institute will help you develop your academic English skills.

The University of Reading is a welcoming community for people of all faiths and cultures. We are committed to a healthy work-life balance and will work to ensure that you are supported personally and academically.


Applicants should have a good degree (minimum of a UK Upper Second (2:1) undergraduate degree or equivalent) in Biology or a strongly-related discipline. Applicants will also need to meet the University’s English Language requirements. We offer pre-sessional courses that can help with meeting these requirements. With a commitment to improving diversity in science and engineering, we encourage applications from underrepresented groups.

How to apply:

Submit an application for

a PhD in Biological Sciences at


Further information:



Dr. Eva Kevei, email:



Biological Sciences (4) Environmental Sciences (13) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

We welcome applications from self-funded students worldwide for this project.
If you are applying to an international funding scheme, we encourage you to get in contact as we may be able to support you in your application.


Jewett E, Arnott G, Connolly L, Vasudevan N, Kevei E. Microplastics and Their Impact on Reproduction-Can we Learn From the C. elegans Model? Front Toxicol. 2022 Mar 24;4:748912. doi: 10.3389/ftox.2022.748912.
Chandler RJ, Cogo S, Lewis PA, Kevei E. Modelling the functional genomics of Parkinson's disease in Caenorhabditis elegans: LRRK2 and beyond. Biosci Rep. 2021 Sep 30;41(9):BSR20203672. doi: 10.1042/BSR20203672.

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