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  Towards meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals: Catalytic removal of environmental pollutants


   School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

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  Assoc Prof Vladimir Golovko  Applications accepted all year round  Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

About the Project

Golovko group is looking for a strong candidate suitable to take up a UC Taumata Whanaketanga Whainga | Sustainable Development Goals PhD Scholarship and capable of making a difference in the area of catalytic removal of environmental pollutants.

Air and water pollution is a huge problem in the world. Poor countries could not afford the energy for energy-hungry pollutant removal systems. This project aims to develop a range of novel catalysts capable of efficiently removing/converting such environmental pollutants using renewable energy sources.

This project is aligned with a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. For example, Goal 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” and specifically, Target 3.9 “By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination” Indeed, reports point to the rising air pollution as the major reason for the growth of lung cancer. Discovery of the efficient and affordable catalysts capable of removing pollutants from air and water using renewable energy will benefit both smart cities and developing world communities, stimulating sustainable industries and ensuring healthy lives of people both in Aotearoa and globally.

The candidate

Successful candidate will focus on the fabrication of catalysts with active sites precisely defined using atomically precise metal clusters. Such chemically made metal clusters have unique electronic and geometric properties (compared to the properties of the larger metal nanoparticle and to the bulk metal). Catalytic activity of such active sites can be fine-tuned via number and type of metal atoms in the core of the metal cluster. We will anchor such active sites onto novel semiconductor supports with control over the band gap (for optimal light harvesting) as well as surface chemistry and defects (for better anchoring of the clusters). Catalysts will be tested for removal of pollutants from air and water at the Golovko Laboratory at the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences. Collaboration/co-supervision with academics from the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering will further enrich PhD student experience and will ensure timely completion of the degree.

Our team published extensively in this area (Nature (Impact factor, IF) 69.5, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental IF 24.3, Chemical Engineering Journal IF 16.7, ACS Catalysis 13.7 etc.). We hope that the successful candidate will contribute to the publishing in the highest impact journals possible. Details of publications by Golovko Group can be found here: https://scholar.google.co.nz/citations?user=06ayYKQAAAAJ&hl=en 

 Good educational background and prior experience in materials chemistry and nano-chemistry/technology with strong emphasis on synthesis and characterisation of materials is preferred. Understanding and expertise in materials characterisation techniques (e.g. electron microscopy, XRD, XRF, Raman, XPS) and capability for numerical modelling of the findings is a bonus. Desire to learn advanced synchrotron-based characterisation techniques will be welcomed. High GPA is highly desirable!

Excellent team-working skills are required - successful candidates are expected to be comfortable working both independently and in a collaborative environment with other PhD students within wider team.

Good time management and communication (both written reports and verbal) skills are also required.

Why University of Canterbury?

University of Canterbury is celebrating 150 years of accessible education in 2023.

Discover our world class university in the heart of Christchurch, a unique and vibrant city on the rise!

This scholarship is aligned to efforts by University of Canterbury to make a difference with respect to sustainability, which were recently recognised by the Times Higher Education (THE). THE released their Impact Rankings for 2023, and the University of Canterbury has ranked among the top 80 universities worldwide for Global Sustainability Impact.

How to apply

Prospective student must meet PhD enrolment requirements by the University of Canterbury.

A curriculum vitae, cover letter, details of your English proficiency test (if you are not a native English speaker) and contact details of at least two referees should be emailed to Associate Professor Vladimir Golovko ([Email Address Removed]; University of Canterbury). Please, mention in your cover letter where (which website) you have spotted advertisement for this PhD position.

Funding Notes 

Potential funding details: UC Taumata Whanaketanga Whainga | Sustainable Development Goals PhD Scholarship covers scholarship to the value of NZ$28,000 per annum and tuition fees. Wā roanga | Tenure: the scholarships are tenable for the period necessary to complete up to 3 years of PhD study.

A suitable candidate will be able to apply for an additional Australian$8,250 per annum via AINSE Postgraduate Research Award.

Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Materials Science (24)
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 About the Project