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“And what do you do?” - Scottish microbial mats and microbial precipitates

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  • Full or part time
    Dr A Brasier
    Dr S A Bowden
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Microbial mats and microbial precipitates often form at interfaces between very different environments, for example ground and surface waters, meteoric and coastal waters or where there is a drop in surface temperature. The aim of this project is to look at which compound-types and elements are retained by the microbial mats and microbial precipitates and how this happens.

The project will look at two elements:

1) Field based studies that monitor microbial mats and microbial precipitates – to evaluate what compounds and elements they are chelating from water.

2) Laboratory studies that evaluate end member situations outside of the that currently seen in nature, but that may arise due to future Human activity – e.g. geothermal energy

For both laboratory and field studies, target analysis using careful sample processing will determine how components are retained by the microbial mats and microbial precipitates e.g. physically adsorbed, chelated within minerals or bound at the extra cellular or cellular level.

This knowledge will be applied to the long term passive monitoring of microbial mats and microbial precipitates, and to actively propose technologies that exploit the capacity of microbial mats and microbial precipitates to chelate compounds from water.

The project will find review occurrences of microbial mats and microbial precipitates found within Scotland with a view to identifying sites suitable for long term monitoring.

The project would involve substantial fieldwork, laboratory work and method development.

Essential Background: Equivalent of 2.1 Honours Degree in Geoscience, Environmental Chemistry, Bioscience

Knowledge of: Broad knowledge of natural sciences

The other supervisor on this project is Professor Graeme Paton (Uni of Aberdeen, School of Biological Sciences)

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting www.abdn.ac.uk. There is NO funding attached to this project. You can find details of living costs and the like by visiting http://www.abdn.ac.uk/international/finance.php.


This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Geology and Petroleum Geology. Formal applications can be completed online: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply. You should apply for PhD in Geology, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor on the application form.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr A Brasier ([email protected]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([email protected]).

How good is research at Aberdeen University in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 28.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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