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  NERC RED-ALERT CDT PhD project: Establishing a new effect-directed analysis platform for understanding exposure risks of hazardous chemicals and their mixtures

   Department of Chemistry

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  Prof Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project is one of a number of projects that are in competition for funding from the Centre for Doctoral Training in Real-Time Digital Water-Based Systems for Environmental Health Protection (RED-ALERT CDT).

The RED-ALERT CDT is a new doctoral training centre designed to improve the health of the UK’s rivers and lakes. RED-ALERT’s vision is to train and empower a new generation of leaders to transform how we manage aquatic environmental health via Real-Time Digital Water-Based Systems.

Doctoral training within RED-ALERT will focus on challenge-led multidisciplinary research and problem-solving skills. Leveraging nationally leading research facilities, international networks and whole system "Living Labs" to provide the in-depth knowledge and breadth of understanding, it will enable a step-change in managing environmental health.

Studentships are available for entry in September 2024.

Supervisory Team:

  • Lead supervisor: Prof Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, Department of Chemistry and Institute for Sustainability, University of Bath (email: [Email Address Removed]).
  • Co-supervisors: Prof Charles Tyler, University of Exeter; Dr Daniel Read, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology; Dr John Bagnall, Wessex Water.

The Project:

Clean freshwater is fundamental to the health of wildlife and humans. Rapid urbanisation is linked with an increased risk of exposure to hazardous chemical mixtures, environment deterioration, non-communicable disease epidemics and biodiversity loss. To protect environmental health and understand ecotoxicological impacts, there is a need for Early Warning Systems, which collate comprehensive, spatiotemporal information on environmental health status, identify new threats and trigger rapid response from regulatory sectors with the aim of disease prevention and environmental health promotion.

This studentship will develop a new integrated exposure-effect directed analysis platform using combined mass spectrometry-based approaches and novel bioassays (including in vitro cell based systems and transgenic fish engineered to detected specific chemical classes and biological effect measures, e.g. oestrogens, oxidative stress, immune function, neurological ) to establish a Water-Based Early Warning system focused on rapid assessment of environmental exposure, bioavailability and ecotoxicological effects of hazardous chemicals and their mixtures (pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, pesticides, forever chemicals such as PFAS, plastics, flame retardants). Working within One Health ethos, this project will capture the heterogeneity of multi-chemical exposure and ecotoxicological effects in the environment that is critical for informed, evidence based regulatory frameworks for public and environmental health protection in the UK and globally.

The research student will receive training in a range of modern analytical and bioanalytical techniques including state-of-the-art chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry techniques, bioassays, including the application of transgenic fish, and advanced imaging methods. In addition, he/she will join an interdisciplinary team at the University of Bath, Exeter, UKCEH and Wessex Water with critical research expertise in the area and excellent research infrastructure. Experience of academic/government/industrial research, interdisciplinary and international working and development of legislation and water, public health policy, will provide an exciting opportunity for further professional development.

This studentship spans across analytical science, environmental/water science, chemistry, microbiology, ecotoxicology and imaging. This studentship will leverage Wessex Water’s established partnerships including Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bristol Avon River Trust, Avon Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Environment Agency. Opportunities for placements with Wessex Water will ensure that the student has full exposure to the contextual information necessary to establish them as a true multidisciplinary practitioner.

Project keywords: Hazardous chemicals, pollution, water quality, early warning, environmental sustainability.

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent) in Chemistry (Analytical, Environmental, Pharmaceutical, Physical), Environmental Sciences, Biochemistry or Ecotoxicology. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous but is not essential.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications:

Applicants are encouraged to contact Prof Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern on email address [Email Address Removed] before applying to find out more about the project and to discuss their suitability for the role.

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemistry.


  1. In the ‘Funding your studies’ section of the application form, please select ‘CDT’ from the first drop-down menu and enter “NERC RED-ALERT” in the space below. 
  2. In the ‘Your PhD project’ section, please quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the appropriate fields. 

Failure to complete these steps will cause a delay in processing your application and may cause you to miss the deadline.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

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

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a 3.5-year NERC RED-ALERT CDT studentship. A studentship comprises payment of tuition fees, a stipend at the UKRI rate (£19,237 p.a., 2024/25 rate) and a budget for research and training. Studentships are open to both Home and International students; however, International applicants should note that funding does NOT cover the cost of moving to the UK, obtaining a student visa or payment of the UK healthcare surcharge In line with guidance from UKRI, the number of awards available to International candidates will be limited to 30% of the total.


Brack, W., Barcelo Culleres, D., Boxall, A.B.A. et al. One planet: one health. A call to support the initiative on a global science–policy body on chemicals and waste. Environ Sci Eur 34, 21 (2022).

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