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UK seas, microplastic and noise pollution impacts on biodiversity measured with eDNA


   School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

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  Dr Fay Couceiro, Dr Andrew Lundgren, Prof Alex Ford  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a fully-funded three year PhD to commence in February 2023. 

This interdisciplinary PhD in collaboration with GB Row will be based in the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, and will be primarily supervised by Dr Fay Couceiro, with Dr Andrew Lundgren from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation and Prof Alex Ford from the Institute of Marine Sciences.

Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees at UK/home rate for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£17,668 for 2022/2023). EU candidates will be eligible for our Transition scholarship.  

The work on this project will involve:

  • Microplastics quantification and analysis
  • Underwater noise pollution
  • Biodiversity and environmental DNA
  • Collaboration with GB Row and participation in outreach activities  

Project description

The University of Portsmouth and GB Row have teamed up to create a project that brings together marine sport and marine science. Throughout a 3,500km rowing race around the UK, samples of microplastics, environmental DNA (eDNA), noise, temperature and salinity will be gathered by rowers with a range of sensors and equipment attached to their vessels, making this a race with a purpose.

The successful PhD candidate will be trained using pre-analysed data collected from the 2022 race and will then lead the analysis of the 2023-2025 race data. The strength of this project lies in the interdisciplinary approach taken and the candidate will need to be willing to work with experts in a range of disciplines bringing them together with the aid of the supervisors.

The data collected will produce heat maps of pollution and biodiversity around the UK coast and will be used to determine how these are changing over time. There will be a particular emphasis on how Marine Conservation Zones and areas hosting conservation projects are faring and how noise pollution changes as free ports are introduced.

As part of the PhD a certain amount of outreach will be required to engage with stakeholders and possibly media during the races.  Alongside the PhD group with the School, the candidate will also become a part of the PhD Microplastics Research group which provides a rich research environment spanning many disciplines 

General admissions criteria

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. 

If English is not a first language an English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0, will be required.

Specific candidate requirements

  • Excellent laboratory skills are a necessity, and skills in microplastics analysis are desirable. 
  • Experience in field sampling and a willingness to go into the field are required.
  • Strong numerical skills are needed. The candidate will need to be comfortable working with large data sets such as those collected from hydrophones and be prepared to learn the computational skills to analyse the data.
  • Strong communication skills are wanted as the candidate will engage with stakeholders and in outreach.

How to Apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Fay Couceiro ([Email Address Removed]) to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

If you want to be considered for this funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SCES7261122 when applying.


Funding Notes

Successful applicants will receive a bursary to cover tuition fees at UK/home rate for three years and a stipend in line with the UKRI rate (£17,668 for 2022/2023). EU candidates will be eligible for our Transition scholarship.
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