Funded PhD position

Microbially driven recycling of nutrients from recovered VBS plants/fungi through Green manure and Biochar

As part of the Kinsella Challenge-based E3 Multi-disciplinary Project Awards, the Antimicrobial Resistance and Host Modulation research group at Department of Microbiology, Trinity College Dublin invites applications for a PhD Project Award, starting in March 2022. This PhD will be part of a very dynamic, integrative and transdisciplinary team of researchers under the project NuReCycle. NuReCycle is focused on diffuse agricultural water pollution and application of integrated nutrient control, recovery and recycling innovative systems. In this project, the PhD student will conduct research on the recovery of elemental and/or nutrient rich vegetation for use as fertilizer or biochar.

The successful candidate will conduct research work on microbially driven recycling of nutrients from recovered vegetative buffer strips plants/fungi through Green manure and Biochar, under the supervison of Dr. Marta Martins, Department of Microbiology, Moyne Institute of Preventive Medicine. In this project, the student will identify field areas with high agriculture runoff and carry out soil analysis, will perform the identification of any plants in these areas for naturally occurring hyperaccumulators plus any potential rhizobia, through mycorrhizal extraction and molecular analysis by conducting 16S rRNA and 18S rRNA gene sequencing. The recovered plants will then be tested to quantify the amounts of heavy metals absorbed and toxicity testing conducted in order to be safely used as a biochar or green manure. The candidate will be expected to produce research suitable for publication in leading peer reviewed journals.

The successful candidate will receive an annual stipend of €17,000, plus a tuition fee waiver, for each of the four years of the PhD programme, subject to successful confirmation on the PhD programme after 18 months. In return, the awardee will conduct research assistance as required by their supervisor.


Applications should be made through the NuReCycle website by 30th November 2021.

Successful candidates should have an excellent background in microbiology, biotechnology or similar area and good laboratory skills, preferably with a Master's degree relevant to the area of research of the PhD.

All applicants must have an excellent level of English written and spoken. When English is not the mother tongue or the applicant has not been educated through the medium of English, the candidate must present evidence of English language competency. The successful applicant will be based in Trinity College Dublin. Founded in 1592, Trinity is consistently ranked first among Irish universities (e.g. QS 2019; THE 2018) and was ranked 104th in the World across all indicators in the 2019 QS rankings.

Applications should be submitted within a single PDF document that includes a CV with educational history, transcripts of degree results, a short (1-2 page) letter of motivation and contact details for 2 referees. The motivation letter should clearly state how the applicant's research interests and skills relate to the research project outlined above. Applications will not be considered complete until referees have submitted their references. If the successful candidate does not have English as a first language, they will also be required to submit evidence of English language competence at this stage.

Trinity College Dublin is committed to policies, procedures and practices which do not discriminate on grounds such as gender, civil status, family status, age, disability, race, religious belief, sexual orientation or membership of the travelling community. On that basis we encourage and welcome talented people from all backgrounds to join our staff and student body. Trinity's Diversity Statement can be viewed in full at Interested applicants are requested to contact Dr. Marta Martins ( and/or Dr. David O'Connell(, for more information on the specific project, and to consult the Trinity's Graduate Studies website for questions on admissions or other logistics:

posted: 11 October 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.