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The role of DOM character in Carbonaceous and Nitrogenous Disinfection ByProduct formation in water supplies

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  • Full or part time
    Dr N Fenner
    Dr C Freeman
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A large grant programme on Characterising the nature, origins and ecological significance of Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM) in freshwater ecosystems has recently been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council. This links leading researchers at the universities of Bristol, Bangor, UEA and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. In association with this programme, three PhD studentships are to be funded.

Applications are invited here for one of those PhD studentships, based in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Bangor, and supervised by Dr Nathalie Fenner and Prof. Chris Freeman (Bangor) and Prof. Penny Johnes (Bristol). The successful candidate will have the unparalleled opportunity to work within a truly interdisciplinary community of leading scientists, with expertise in defining the sources and pathways by which C, N and P are created within the landscape, accessed by the biota and moved from source to sea.

A rising trend in Dissolved Organic Matter (DOM, including C and N) flux to upland temperate and boreal freshwaters, leading to an increase in DOM flux to coastal waters is widely reported. DOC & DON are known to support carcinogen formation in water supplies through water treatment processes, raising significant concerns and imposing significant additional costs for the water industry. Chlorine is ubiquitous in water treatment in the UK and much of the world is reliant on it to provide safe drinking water. When chlorine reacts with DOM it forms disinfection byproducts (DBPs). In the UK only one group of DBPs are currently regulated, the trihalomethanes (THMs) and a maximum concentration of 100µg L-1 at a consumer’s tap has been set for the sum of the four THMs. THMs are often the major DBPs we find in chlorinated water but well over 600 other DBPs have been reported.

This studentship will focus on links between CDBP and NDBP formation and the presence of carbohydrates and amino acids, as these have been shown to be poorly removed during conventional water treatment. Sampling and analysis will focus on a nutrient gradient (ranging from low nutrient waters in the upland headwaters of the Conwy (N. Wales) to highly enriched waters in the lower reaches of the Hampshire Avon) and additional waters known to exceed DBP standards in the Scottish, Welsh and Wessex Water regions.

The student will determine: 1) whether amino acids and carbohydrates in surface waters are significant precursors for CDBP and NDBP formation, 2) water supply areas where the risk of DBP formation is greatest, 3) whether the risk of DBP formation in public water supply increases along gradients of nutrient enrichment in relation to climatic gradients, and 4) generate a risk assessment tool for water utilities and map the risk of population exposure to DBP formation within the Welsh, Wessex and Scottish Water regions.

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr N. Fenner ([Email Address Removed]) in the first instance. To apply, please send a CV and covering letter with contact details for two referees by email to the principal supervisor, Dr Fenner. Closing date for applications: 30th June 2014. Interviews (in person or online) will be scheduled for the week starting 14th July 2014, and the starting date will be 1st October 2014.

Funding Notes

This studentship is subject to NERC funding rules. To check eligibility criteria all applicants must visit the NERC student eligibility webpage before making an application: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/available/postgrad/eligibility.asp

Non-UK citizens and UK-citizens that are currently overseas are specifically encouraged to refer to the studentship handbook for detailed eligibility criteria. The successful applicant will receive a stipend and fees will be provided at the NERC rate.

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