Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

PhD position in Environmental Sciences /
Environmental Engineering

Glasgow, UK
Application deadline: March 31, 2017

Project: Biotech enhanced roads and paving for cleaning water

Summary: Large volumes of rainwater fall on roads and paving - most is immediately flushed down the drain. This is no longer tenable in a world facing serious water shortages. In a step-change in water treatment, this proposal will embed biotechnology into roads and paving, enabling them to filter, store and clean incoming rainwater for domestic and commercial use.

The challenge: The IPCC predicts that climate change will bring water scarcity to up to 3.2 billion people (approximately half the world's population). While water shortages can have considerable humanitarian impact, their economic impact is staggering, with droughts over the past 30 years costing 100 billion in Europe alone. Urban environments are very effective at capturing water due to the abundance of impermeable surfaces. The great paradox, however, is that much of this captured water is simply washed down the drain. Roads and paving can be made permeable (known as pervious paving) to capture and filter this water. However, these pervious paving systems do not clean the water to a sufficiently high and reliable standard to meet our water needs.

The solution: The bacteria are known to be key in degrading and removing pollutants from contaminated waters. However, pervious paving design is fundamentally flawed as it is not designed to nurture and optimize the microbial communities which are so vital in water cleaning. In a step change in approach, this project will utilize a pro-microbial approach to explore the impact of pervious paving design on microbial community structure, and how paving can be designed to optimize the right microbial assemblages for the best water cleaning outcomes.

This project will be based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde, which houses our state-of-the-art (6M) microbiological and analytical laboratories.

During this PhD you will develop a strong grounding in water science/engineering and in environmental microbiology relevant to employment in a diverse array of sectors, including environmental remediation and assessment, the water sector and the civil engineering sector.

You should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant science or engineering subject e.g. civil engineering, earth/environmental science, biology, chemistry.

Please contact Prof Vernon Phoenix ( for more details

This is a fully funded 3.5-year studentship: Tuition fees (UK/EU) and an annual stipend equivalent to 2017/18 Research Council rates. This funding is available to UK citizens. It is also available to citizens of the EU who have been permanently in residence in the UK for a minimum of 3 years prior to taking up the studentship.

Apply online at:

published: 09 March 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.