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PhD Studentship in Environmental Engineering

Project Description

The impact of urbanisation on the hydrological cycle is both well-known and likely to be exacerbated through climate change. Historically, stormwater has been viewed as a quantity problem. Yet, road runoff, particularly from heavily trafficked surfaces, can contain a range of pollutants which can have detrimental impacts on both ground and surface water quality. In 2017, the number of vehicles on Irish roads reached its highest ever level at 2.68 million vehicles. Pollutants that settle on the surface of the road, such as residue from oil spills or tyre and brake wear from vehicles, build up during dry weather and are washed into rivers and streams when it rains. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) such as filter drains, wetlands, porous paving, and oil or grit separators can provide solutions to this. Despite clear environmental benefits, there have been numerous challenges in the uptake of SuDS, particularly in retrofit situations. In this project a new SuDS material is evaluated in laboratory and scaled-up trials to determine its capacity for treating and attenuating road run off. In addition to laboratory experiments, the effect of traffic volumes on pollutant load and composition will be evaluated through field work, data analysis, and modelling.

1. Complete laboratory experiments to determine the performance (e.g. volume attenuated, treatment efficiency, lifespan) of the new material in comparison to existing SuDS such as constructed wetlands, pervious paving, filter drains etc.
2. Validate laboratory data in scaled-up trials.
3. Evaluate the effect of traffic volumes on pollutant load and composition across several sites in Dublin, and deduce the potential impact on nearby water bodies.
4. Based on the monitored data, identify the most appropriate SuDS interventions to reduce pollution from road runoff on nearby water bodies.

What is funded? The studentship includes a stipend of €18,000 per annum and UCD tuition fees for EU/non-EU applicants. Test-rigs for laboratory experiments will be provided by a collaborative partner, SEL Environmental Ltd. Funding is provided for a maximum of four years.

To Apply: Please send the following to
1. A curriculum vitae
2. A cover letter
Candidates who best meet the selection criteria will be shortlisted and invited to interview.

Funding Notes


Prospective applicants should have:
- MSc, ME or BE with a 2:i (GPA 3.50) or higher in an appropriate STEM subject such as Engineering, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Environmental Science.
- Experience in the water sector, including research, industry or public sector.
- Experience in the use of tools for analyzing data (e.g. Excel, SPSS, Python, Matlab, R).
- Excellent communication skills, particularly in relation to report writing and delivering presentations.
- Some laboratory experience (desirable).
- Strong organizational skills.
- Ability to manage a complex workload and work to tight deadlines.

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