Research Fellow (Postdoctoral Researcher) in the Life Cycle and Circularity Assessment of Wastewater Treatment Systems (3-year position)

Research Group/Department/School: School of Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin
Location: Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin
College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
Reports to: Dr John Gallagher & Prof Laurence Gill
Salary: 39,523
Hours of Work: Full-time from July 2022 or as soon thereafter
Closing Date: 12 Noon (GMT), Monday 13th June 2022

Post Summary

The successful postdoctoral candidate will support research across two innovative projects focusing on different dimensions of the life cycle and circularity of wastewater treatment. The candidate will support (i) a leading European project that is advancing new circular economy opportunities by producing biobased products from wastewater, and (ii) an innovative National project focusing on the role of nature-based solutions (evapotranspiration willow systems) in delivering zero-discharge decentralised wastewater treatment systems.


WOW!: The successful candidate will specifically be responsible for quantifying the circular performance in producing different wastewater bioproducts to support project deliverables within the Capitalisation phase of the Interreg North-West Europe (NEW) WOW! project. This will include undertaking a combination of material flow analysis (MFA), life cycle assessment and costing (LCA and LCC), and circularity measurement and assessment (CE) tasks to quantify the added value of carbon recovery and reuse from wastewater, especially focussed on activated carbon.

EVAPOTREAT: The successful candidate will also work on an EPA-funded project (EVAPOTREAT) which aims to evaluate the applicability of zero discharge willow evapotranspiration (ET) systems as on-site domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTS) in areas with low soil permeability via a series of field trials. The postdoctoral candidate will help to develop water balance models of the ET systems from which design guidelines can be formed, and also lead the catchment modelling on the impacts of open ET systems on small first order streams. The postdoc will also have the responsibility for carrying out the final LCA comparisons between different DWWTS.

Interreg NWE funded WOW! Capitalisation project

The 'Wider business Opportunities for raw materials from Waste water (sewage)' or WOW! Capitalisation project aims to make the transition to a more circular approach by matching supply and demand of resources from sewage. The project is exploring new market opportunities for raw materials from sewage (cellulose, PHA bioplastics and lipids) to help develop and realize new value chains.

The following activities will be part of the project: identify high potential value chains for raw materials from sewage; develop a decision support tool to support circular transitions for wastewater treatment plants; implement three WOW! resource recovery and upcycling demonstration plants; produce wastewater bioproducts (e.g. bioplastics, biofuel and bio-char); and create national policy action plans and an EU policy roadmap.

Environmental Protection Agency funded EVAPOTREAT project

The EVAPOTREAT project will evaluate the applicability of nature-based, on-site wastewater treatment systems in areas with low soil permeability where current solutions specified in the current legislation (i.e. the 2021 Code of Practice for Domestic Waste Water Treatment Systems (PE ? 10)) involving soil percolation will not work. The main focus will be on carrying out full-scale field trials using willow evapotranspiration (ET) systems in an appropriate climate and representative soils in order to provide data from which robust design guidelines can be developed for zero discharge wastewater treatment systems in such areas of Ireland.

The project involves continued monitoring of open willow ET systems to establish their long term growth performance, construction and monitoring of new partially covered ET systems as potential zero-discharge solutions, assessment of any water pollution impact of such open systems with respect to local receiving water quality and evaluation of the long term sustainability of these systems using LCA methodologies.

Standard Duties and Responsibilities of the Post

  • Collect and analyse data for the production of wastewater bioproducts (WOW!) and configurations of different DWWTS (EVAPOTREAT).
  • Conduct comparative material flow analyses, life cycle assessments and/or circularity measurement and assessments of different wastewater treatment processes and centralised/decentralised systems.
  • Engage with National and European project partners and other stakeholders to undertake research and outreach activities for the EVAPOTREAT and WOW! Capitalisation projects.
  • Work with a PhD student on the EVAPOTREAT project to develop water balance models of the ET systems from which design guidelines can be drafted.
  • Lead the catchment modelling on the impacts of open ET systems on small streams.

Funding Information

This position is part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the Interreg North-West Europe (NWE) programme.

The position is part funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency through their EPA Research Programme 2021-2030.

Person Specification

Qualifications and experience

  • A PhD in engineering, environmental science or other related STEM field
  • Excellent record of peer-reviewed scientific publication
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and to efficiently deliver results on time
  • Ability to work as part of a team in a multi-disciplinary environment

Knowledge & Experience (Essential & Desirable)

  • Experience of life cycle assessment, material flow analysis and/or circular economy
  • Knowledge of different water/wastewater modelling techniques and methods
  • Specific experience in centralised and/or decentralised wastewater treatment systems and their performance
  • Evidence of productivity through research outputs

Skills & Competencies

  • Excellent record of peer-reviewed scientific publication
  • Experience in project management

Application Procedure

Applicants should submit a Cover Letter and Curriculum Vitae with the names and contact details of 2 referees (including email addresses) to: Dr John Gallagher ( before the deadline of 12 Noon (GMT), Friday 7th June 2022.

Further Information for Applicants

URL Link to Area:
URL Link to Human Resources:

Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin

Trinity is Ireland's premier university, with a proud tradition of excellence stretching back to its foundation in 1592. The oldest university in Ireland, and one of the oldest in Europe, today Trinity sits at the intersection of the past and the future, and is ideally positioned as a major university in the European Union. Our 47-acre campus is located in the heart of Dublin city centre and is home to historic buildings dating from the University's establishment, as well as some of the most cutting-edge teaching and research facilities in Ireland. Students at Trinity benefit from a unique educational experience across a range of disciplines in our three faculties - Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Engineering, Mathematics and Science; and Health Sciences. The pursuit of excellence through research and scholarship is at the heart of a Trinity education, and our researchers have an outstanding publication record and strong record of grant success.

Trinity is the top ranked university in Ireland. Using the QS methodology 2021 we are ranked 101st in the world and using the Times Higher Education World University Rankings methodology we are 155th in the world in 2021.

Pension Entitlements

This is a pensionable position, and the provisions of the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004 will apply in relation to retirement age for pension purposes. Details of the relevant Pension Scheme will be provided to the successful applicant. Applicants should note that they will be required to complete a Pre-Employment Declaration to confirm whether or not they have previously availed of an Irish Public Service Scheme of incentivised early retirement or enhanced redundancy payment. Applicants will also be required to declare any entitlements to a Public Service pension benefit (in payment or preserved) from any other Irish Public Service employment. Applicants formerly employed by the Irish Public Service that may previously have availed of an Irish Public Service Scheme of Incentivised early retirement or enhanced redundancy payment should ensure that they are not precluded from re-engagement in the Irish Public Service under the terms of such Schemes. Such queries should be directed to an applicant's former Irish Public Service Employer in the first instance.

Application Procedure

Applicants should submit a Cover Letter and Curriculum Vitae including the names and contact details of 2 referees (including email addresses) before the deadline of 12 Noon (GMT), Friday 7th June 2022 to Dr John Gallagher (


posted: 12 May 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.