PhD Scholarship: Airborne microplastics in a changing climate, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Microplastics - fragments of plastic smaller than 5 mm - have long been recognized as contaminants in the world's oceans and rivers. In recent years, they have been detected in the atmosphere in a range of urban and remote locations[1]. Being small and of low density, microplastics are transported by winds around the Earth. By absorbing and scattering light, they also play a role in direct radiative processes, thus contributing to climate change[2]. Since the amount of plastic accumulated in landfills and the natural environment is projected to double over the next 30 years, airborne microplastic pollution and associate climate impacts are set to increase.

This project will explore the role of airborne microplastics in a changing climate. We have recently implemented microplastics as a class of atmospheric aerosol into a global climate model. This project will involve running model simulations to explore the possible range of microplastic radiative forcing and associated climate impacts under different scenarios. Opportunities to participate in field and lab work may also arise.

The successful candidate will have a strong background in programming (e.g. Python, Fortran and working in a High Performance Computing environment), and a Masters degree (or equivalent) in physics, chemistry, environmental science or a related discipline. Expertise in atmospheric and/or optical physics is desirable. Strong written and verbal communication skills in English are essential.

The studentship is fully funded for three years (including fees) and will offer opportunities for travel. The successful candidate will be based in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. We offer a vibrant, friendly and supportive research environment and are housed in a brand-new purpose-built research facility. The project will be supervised by Associate Professor Laura Revell (

To apply, please first check your eligibility for PhD study at the University of Canterbury (

Applications should include a cover letter, CV, contact details of two referees, academic transcript and evidence of proficiency in English (if applicable; see

Enquiries and applications to: Dr Laura Revell (

Closing date: 17 July 2022
Value: $28 000 per annum, plus tuition fees covered.
Tenure: 3 years


  1. The atmospheric cycle of micro(nano)plastics in the marine environment, D. Allen, S. Allen et al., Nature Reviews Earth & Environment 2022, 10.1038/s43017-022-00292-x.
  2. Direct radiative effects of airborne microplastics, L. Revell, P. Kuma, E. Le Ru, W. Somerville and S. Gaw, Nature 2021, 598(7881): 462-467.

posted: 23 June 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.