PhD position to study emerging pollutant in atmosphere

Understanding the impact of waste-water treatment plants on emission of new and emerging pollutants into atmosphere though chemical speciation and toxicity.

Coventry University, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience

About the Project

The proposed project will investigate emission of new and emerging pollutants (NEPs) from wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) into atmosphere and their impact on human health.

WWTPs are designed to remove contaminants from domestic and municipal wastewater. WWTPs serve as a 'repository' of concentrated wastes from these environments and are enriched with 1000s of chemicals including pharmaceuticals, pesticides, industrial chemicals, personal care products, and microplastics, most of which are not regulated and referred to as NEPs. Although NEPs is a term used for soil and aquatic environments, most of them have chemical properties enabling their easy transfer into atmosphere. Recent reports indicate a significant number of cases of respiratory system disorders among residents in the neighbourhood of WWTPs, but the exact cause is yet to be investigated.

The project will investigate, for the first time, the impact of WWTPs on emission of NEPs (including microplastics) into atmosphere. This will be done through analytical method development for measuring NEPs, field campaigns (near NEPs emission sources and at a background urban site), lab experiments to understand NEPs transfer mechanism from WWT and contaminated waters into ambient air and assessment of cytotoxicity and the inflammatory response in human bronchial epithelial cells cultured in vitro at air-liquid interface.

Training and Development

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Academic Environment

Coventry University has been the UK's top modern university for seven consecutive years (Guardian University Guide 2013-2019) and holds a number of other prestigious accolades. Established in 2014 through substantial university investment, the Centre for Agroecology, Water & Resilience (CAWR) is rapidly building a global reputation for transdisciplinary research into processes of resilience in social-ecological systems. Among its key lines of research is work focusing on modelling of water and food systems, aided by high performance computing facilities.

Training and Development

Deakin University

The multi-disciplinary and novel nature of the project offers an excellent opportunity for higher degree research training. The PhD student will be working under the supervision of Dr Stevanovic at Deakin University and will be involved in the aspects of physical and chemical characterization of aerosols as well as measurements of their oxidative capacity. Working together with Dr Stevanovic, Dr Kourtchev and Dr Bogush the student will establish the impact of waste-water treatment plants on emission of NEPs (including microplastics) into atmosphere and their effects on human health. The student will be trained to use highly sophisticated methods for particle characterisations, measurement of oxidative potential and toxicity using high tech air-to-liquid cell exposure system.

Coventry University

The successful candidate will acquire a wealth of new competences in environmental analytical chemistry research, including new analytical skills and instrumental methods under the guidance of Dr Kourtchev and co-supervisor Dr Anna Bogush. The applicant will benefit from the unique opportunity of using the powerful instruments available for determining the molecular composition of environmental samples. Training on cutting-edge High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS), hyphenated techniques (e.g.LC-MS, GC-MS) and FTIR and Raman microscopes will provide knowledge of off-line analytical methods. Furthermore, the training provided in the advanced data analysis tools (PCA, PMF, HCA) will furnish the applicant with new technological competencies that are increasingly being used in environmental chemistry research to interpret highly complex datasets, such as those generated in field measurements, including in organisms. The new knowledge and training acquired by the applicant will significantly improve his/her scientific skills base and provide a strong platform for building an independent research career integrating methods from both chemistry and biology fields.

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Applicants must meet the admission and scholarship criteria for both Coventry University and Deakin University for entry to the cotutelle programme.

This includes;

  • Applicants should have graduated within the top 15% of their undergraduate cohort. This might include a high 2:1 in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark (80% for Australian graduates) in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average (80% for Australian graduates).
  • A Masters degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Masters dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 80%. Please note that where a candidate has 70-79% and can provide evidence of research experience to meet equivalency to the minimum first-class honours equivalent (80%+) additional evidence can be submitted and may include independently peer-reviewed publications, research-related awards or prizes and/or professional reports.
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.

For an overview of each University's entry requirements please visit:

https://www.coventry.ac.uk/research/research-opportunities/research-students/cotutelle-phd-programmes/

https://www.deakin.edu.au/research/become-a-research-student/research-degree-entry-pathways

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Ivan Kourtchev ad5363@coventry.ac.uk and/or Dr Svetlana Stevanovic (svetlana.stevanovic@deakin.edu.au )

To apply on line please visit: https://pgrplus.coventry.ac.uk/

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant's expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

Please note that applications must be made to both Universities

To apply please visit:

For Coventry University https://pgrplus.coventry.ac.uk/

For Deakin University http://www.deakin.edu.au/research/become-a-research-student/how-to-apply-research-degrees

published: 01 June 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.