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Neutron activation analysis for heritage science (2021SC45)


   Computing, Engineering & Physical Sciences

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  Dr Michael Bowry, Dr J Hughes  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) is seeking to attract a PhD candidate of outstanding ability and commitment to join its vibrant and growing programme of internationally excellent research. The successful applicant will receive an annual stipend (currently £15,609 per annum for three years) and payment of tuition fees (current value £4,500 per annum for 3 years).

Identifying and preserving the rich variety of cultural heritage assets present in Scotland forms a key part of the strategic vision of several national funding bodies and organisations in the UK including the Scottish Strategic Archaeology Committee and Historic Environment Scotland. This project seeks to apply a well-established, non-destructive sample-analysis technique (neutron activation) to examine the changing composition of building materials and how this information may be harnessed, including as an input for predictive models of care and maintenance. This information will be used to inform wider policy decisions regarding the management of tangible cultural heritage.

This project will use neutron-activation analysis (NAA) techniques to support the sustainable management of historic sites in Scotland. NAA uses neutron radiation to ‘activate’ materials which undergo radioactive decay via gamma rays, allowing isotopic ratios to be measured. Isotopic ratios are applied extensively in heritage science to determine the origin and age of materials. The successful candidate will investigate the role of nuclear data in emerging isotopic analyses of benefit to heritage science.

If you would like to know more about the project, a detailed project description is available to view here.

The studentship is open to UK citizens and EU applicants with pre-settled or settled status, it is also open to international applicants if they can cover the difference between Home and International fees for the duration of the programme of study.

Candidates with a background in physics, chemistry or another analytical science degree are preferred. However, the successful candidate will receive guidance and instruction on the measurements to be performed and will work closely with professionals in a variety of disciplines.

Key competencies

The main skill areas encountered in this project will include,

-      Gamma-ray spectroscopy,

-      Radiation-detector physics,

-      Laboratory work and maintaining an experimental logbook,

-      Sample preparation,

-      Analytical calculations,

-      Uncertainty analysis,

-      Computational work and simulations,

-      Scientific writing,

-      Reviewing relevant literature.

In the process of conducting research, the successful candidate will work as part of an interdisciplinary team within the School of Engineering, Computing and Physical Sciences at UWS and attend regular meetings with the supervisor(s). Work will be partly conducted using facilities located at UWS administered by the Nuclear Physics Research Group.

There may be opportunities for international travel both for research purposes and to attend scientific conferences to present results. In addition to writing a formal thesis describing the work carried out during the project, it is expected that the successful candidate will contribute to the publication of a scientific article in a relevant, peer-reviewed journal.

In the first instance, any informal enquiries and applications to these competitive studentships should be made by email to Dr Michael Bowry ([Email Address Removed]). Successful applicants will be asked to submit the application through the UWS online system.

Start date 1st April 2022

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