Microplastics in Wastewater, Engineering Ref: 3141

About the award


Academic Supervisior: Prof Fayyaz Ali Memon, Unversitty of Exeter

This 4 year PhD studentship is funded as part of the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre on Water Informatics, Science and Engineering (WISE) (http://wisecdt.org/). It provides a substantially enhanced student experience, including additional training and opportunities to develop a whole range of additional skills. In particular, the successful candidate will have following additional benefits:

• Taught Programme in Exeter for Year 1, covering masters level modules
• Research project on micro-plastics in sludge at the University of Exeter in collaboration with UKWIR
• Annual residential summer school
• Research seminars and social events
• Transferable Skills Training
• 3-month additional research visit/placement to an overseas/UK leading research institution
• Full tuition fee and tax free monthly stipend
Further details on benefits are on: http://wisecdt.org/introduction-to-the-cdt/why-do-a-cdt-phd/
Microplastics (MPs) are referred as polymer based fibrous materials of size less than 5 mm. These are emerging contaminants with potential toxic implications for aquatic life and land. They have a potential to adsorb persistent organic contaminants and priority metals. These may be released upon digestion by biota or through environmental degradation leading to possible impacts on human health and ecosystems.

The overall aim of the proposed research is to develop a knowledge base that facilitates improved understanding of complexities involved in the MPs quantification, characterisation and toxicity potential assessment and explore the effectiveness of available treatments. The key research questions may include:

• How to sample and analyse MPs from different sample matrices (grey/wastewater, sewage sludge, soil)
• How to isolate, identify and quantify different types of MPs efficiently so that their possible sources can be determined?
• Does sludge treatment have any impact on MPs?
• Does the morphology of MPs change with the applied sludge treatment technique(s) and how would it alter MPs toxicity potential?
• What levels of microplastics are already present in soils from agricultural land (both from fields that have and have not had sewage sludge applied)?
• Does the recycling of treated sewage sludge to agricultural land therefore pose any risk to the environment?
• Is greywater a significant source of MPs and what intervention is possible to reduce the amount reaching wastewater treatment works?

The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit 4 years of full-time study to commence in September 2018 and is subject to confirmation of funding.
The studentship will cover a stipend at the minimum Research Council rate, currently £14,777 per annum, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for students.

Academic Supervisior: Prof Fayyaz Ali Memon, Unversitty of Exeter


Entry requirements

We are looking for highly motivated ambitious applicants who must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree or Masters level degree (or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK), in engineering/science. Previous experience in wastewater/water management (but not essential) and experience with water quality/chemicals analysis is desirable. As part of the WISE programme, the successful candidate will attend a structured training on water/wastewater management related courses.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/).

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents. 

• CV
• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience and reasons for wishing to undertake the project).
• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
• Names of two referees familiar with your academic work. You are not required to obtain references yourself. We will request references directly from your referees if you are shortlisted.
• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English

The closing date for applications is midnight on 10 May 2018.  Interviews will be held on the University of Exeter Streatham campus the week commencing 21 May 2018. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interview.
If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email emps-pgr-ad@exeter.ac.uk or phone +44 (0)1392 722730.

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof Fayyaz Ali Memon, Centre for Water Systems, Email: f.a.memon@exeter.ac.uk , Tel: +44 (0) 1392 72 4048.

Please quote reference 3141 on your application and in any correspondence about this project


Application deadline:10th May 2018
Number of awards:1
Duration of award:per year
Contact: Postgraduate Research Office emps-pgr-ad@exeter.ac.uk