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  Molecular characterization of Marine Plastic Leachates and Associated Environmental Impacts


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  Dr Joao Frias , Dr Shane O'Reilly, Dr Enda Gibney  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD project is part of the Postgraduate Research Training Programme COASTAL CONNECTIVITY, which offers 12 PhD research scholarships to commence in 2024. Each project will include an enterprise placement of minimum 12 weeks duration and a bespoke training package in coastal management and research skills.

Plastic production has risen exponentially since the 1950’s when global production started, reaching a staggering figure of 390 million tonnes in 2021. Up to 10 million tonnes of plastics enter the marine environment annually with socio-economic and environmental implications that have captured global stakeholder attention. Under environmental conditions, plastics fragment into smaller pieces, potentially releasing additives to the surrounding environment. The aim of this project is to assess and characterize the molecules associated with chemical pollution from plastics and microplastics, resulting from weathering and degradation processes. Assessing these novel substances will allow for a better understanding of ecological risk of these compounds that are associated with chemical and biological pollution, along Ireland’s coastline.

Objectives of the research project

  1. To evaluate the leaching of a diverse set of polymers
  2. To develop and validate mass spectrometry-based methods to screen for and quantify plastic leachates.
  3. To assess the extent to which target compounds are leached into the environment using field and laboratory scale experiments.
  4. To assess the ecological toxicity of plastic leachates and specific analytes
  5. To engage with relevant stakeholders to highlight any potential risks.

Project Duration:

48 months (PhD)

Preferred Location:

ATU Galway Campus


Application Form / Terms of Conditions can be obtained on the website:

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm, (GMT) Monday 29th April, 2024.

Only selected applicants will be called for an online interview (shortlisting may apply).

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Environmental Sciences (13)

Funding Notes

TU RISE is co-financed by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the ERDF Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021- 27 and the Northern & Western Regional Programme 2021-27.
Funding for this Project includes:
• A student stipend (usually tax-exempt) valued at €22,000 per annum
• Annual waivers of postgraduate tuition fee
• Extensive research training programme
• Support for travel, consumables and dissemination expenses
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