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Water fingerprinting for health and lifestyle assessment

   The Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies

About the Project

The Centre for Sustainable & Circular Technologies at the University of Bath is inviting applications for the following funded PhD project commencing in October 2022.

The year 2020 witnessed a crisis in healthcare systems due to the COVID19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 has had an unprecedented impact on humanity globally. It exposed the acute inability to manage the virus due to lack of reliable surveillance systems focused on rapid identification of SARS-CoV-2 hotspots. Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE) has since enabled SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in the UK (UKHSA Sars-Cov-2 WBE surveillance). This is now developed further to include the advancement of big data driven WBE systems for new biological and chemical threats. This studentship will contribute to the development of strategically important post-pandemic infrastructure to deliver future early warning systems (EWSs) for community health and lifestyle assessment.

Assessment of community health status, wellbeing and lifestyle choices using WBE is lacking due to absence of methods and validated biomarkers. This project will investigate a panel of biomarkers: lifestyle chemicals and their metabolites (e.g. illicit drugs), characteristic endogenous biomarkers of physiological processes and biological responses (e.g. oxidative stress) as well as pharmaceuticals and their metabolites (e.g. antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, analgesics), also in the context of pharma misuse. This project will develop new, fully validated mass spectrometry-based methods to allow trace (sub ppt level) biomarker identification and quantification in complex wastewater matrices. The project will also take advantage of Bath Environmental Chemistry & Public Health (EChPH) group digital mass spectra repository (samples collected in years 2015-22) and new wastewater samples collected from both selected cities as well as near source locations (prisons) to allow biomarker validation in contrasting communities and using different scenarios (the general community and wastewater treatment plant sample collection vs near source prison environment sampling). Two types of mass spectrometers will be used: triple quadrupole for sensitive and selective targeted analysis and quadrupole-time of flight for wide scope biomarker screening and retrospective, time independent analysis. New normalisation approaches of wastewater fingerprints will be developed to enable full quantification as well as comparison of population-wide drug misuse, and general health and lifestyle status.

 The research student will receive training in a range of modern analytical and bioanalytical techniques including state-of-the-art chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry techniques. In addition, he/she will join an interdisciplinary team at the University of Bath with critical research expertise in the area and excellent research infrastructure. Experience of academic/government/industrial research, interdisciplinary and international working and development of legislation and water, public health policy, will provide an exciting opportunity for further professional development.

Project keywords: analytical chemistry, computational chemistry, environmental chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, physical chemistry, chemical engineering, environmental engineering, hydrology, pollution

Candidate Requirements:

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications:

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Prof Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, .

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemistry

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility:

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements: UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), those with Indefinite Leave to Remain and EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme). This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion:

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

Funding Notes

A studentship is for 3.5 years’ duration and includes Home tuition fees, a stipend (£15,609 per annum, 2021/22 rate) and a budget for research expenses and training. Eligibility criteria apply – see Funding Eligibility section above.

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