Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Loughborough University Featured PhD Programmes
University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

Understanding the impact of chemical pollutants on freshwater ecosystem services


   Department of Animal and Plant Sciences

This project is no longer listed on FindAPhD.com and may not be available.

Click here to search FindAPhD.com for PhD studentship opportunities
  Prof L L Maltby  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Sheffield United Kingdom Biodiversity Ecotoxicology Environmental Biology Environmental Chemistry Pollution

About the Project

ECORISC Partner organisation: Environment Agency

Project Overview: This project addresses a key challenge in chemicals regulation and environmental protection: ensuring that society can benefit from chemicals whilst protecting ecosystems from their adverse impacts. Freshwater ecosystems provide multiple benefits to people (i.e. ecosystem services, ES), but the biodiversity on which they depend is under threat.  Freshwater species are going extinct more rapidly than terrestrial or marine species and pollution is a major threat. Environmental Quality Standards (EQSs) used to protect freshwater ecosystems from the adverse impacts of chemical pollutants, use toxicity data generated from single-species toxicity tests. The EQS is driven by the most sensitive species and takes no account of species interactions or ecosystem processes, which may increase or lessen the risk of chemical impacts. The links between EQSs, biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and hence ES are therefore uncertain.  Moreover, the approach is generic and cannot inform site-specific assessment and management.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield (Lorraine Maltby), University of Exeter (Ross Brown), UK CEH (Paula Harrison) and the Environment Agency (Helen Wilkinson). 

Novelty of the Project: This project provides an outstanding opportunity to inform future environmental policy and regulation.  It explores a novel approach to setting EQSs using ecosystem services thinking and trait-based approaches and the specific research objectives are:

1. Develop trait-based approaches for linking major taxonomic groups to ES.

2. Use participatory approaches and multiple criteria assessments to develop ES scores and an index of ES delivery for key taxonomic groups.    

3. Use toxicity data to assess the relative sensitivity of ES providers and develop ES-based EQSs.   

4. Use existing monitoring data to evaluate ES-based EQSs against impact on ES delivery.

Expertise that you would develop: The student will be based at the University of Sheffield and will join a vibrant and supportive research community working to better understand fundamental ecological processes and to address the key environmental challenges facing humankind. They will develop expertise in: environmental risk assessment; biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services assessment; freshwater ecology; trait-based approaches; participatory approaches; chemicals regulation and decision making. They will also develop expertise in literature reviewing, project design, critical evaluation, data analysis, scientific writing and communication.

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.