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The risk of soil contaminants on above- and below-ground urban ecosystems


   Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

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  Dr J Edmondson  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

ECORISC Partner organisation: Fera

Project Overview: This interdisciplinary project seeks to understand the risks posed by soil contamination by anthoropogenic activities to above-and below-ground urban ecosystems, and in doing so, seeks to improve the quality and ecosystem function of urban environments for residents and wildlife alike.  This is urgently needed as soils in urban ecosystems experience high levels of contamination from heavy industry, transport and human management (e.g. pesticides and herbicides at unregulated application rates) and the impact of these on the structure and function of urban soil ecosystems are unknown.  Our supervisory team is uniquely placed to deliver this project with expertise in urban ecosystems, plant-soil-microbe interactions and the impacts of pesticides in the environment on wildlife.   

Novelty of the Project: This project will produce a new framework for assessment of environmental risk of urban soil contaminants. Currently, little is known about how heavy metal and chemical contaminants impact soil microbial and fungal community structure and function in urban ecosystems, and how this impacts on the associated wildlife above- and below-ground.

Expertise that you would develop: The student appointed to this project will develop a wide range of skills in soil, plant and microbial ecology, including analytical chemistry, metabolomics, isotope tracing and metagenomics. In addition, the student will undertake fieldwork and develop associated skills in citizen science, working with local authorities and the general public.

The ECORISC CDT

This project is one of 12 projects being advertised by the NERC-funded ECORISC (Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. More information on the CDT can be found at: https://www.york.ac.uk/environment/postgraduate/ecorisc/. Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive a unique and outstanding training in pollution science and transferrable skills. 

Over the first two years of their PhD programme, you will receive subject-specific training, in: i) ecotoxicology; ii) environmental chemistry; iii) ecology; and iv) risk assessment; and v) core skills required for an environmental specialist. Successful completion of this training will result in the award of phase 1 of the Certified Environmental Risk Assessor qualification from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The formal training programme will be complemented by yearly residential challenge events, ECORISC annual conferences and tailored specialist skills training conducted as group and individual exercises.

ECORISC students will also be required to undertake two workplace experiences based with our business, policy and regulation, third sector and research organisation partners. 

An inclusive CDT programme

Inclusivity is at the heart of the ECORISC programme. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups and are employing a number of mechanisms, such as the possibility of part-time working, to ensure the programme is open to all. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at [Email Address Removed].

Eligibility and Application process

The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international/EU applicants with at least an upper second class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference. 

To be considered for this and other PhD’s offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available at: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ecorisc-cdt-student-application-2020212. Applications should be submitted before 1700 (British Summer Time) on 16th May. Your will be notified of the outcome of the process by 25th May.

Successful applicants, will be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application form which will be used to shortlist candidates for an interview.

If you have any questions on the ECORISC CDT or the application process, please contact us at [Email Address Removed].


Funding Notes

Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive a unique and outstanding training in pollution science and transferrable skills.
The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international/EU applicants with at least an upper second class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.