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Award details

Developing a testing strategy to predict long term epigenetic effects of environmental chemicals. NERC DCT ECORISC PhD Studentship for 2022 entry, PhD in Biosciences Ref: 4385

About the award

Supervisors

Dr Eduarda Santos - College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter.

Location

Department of Biosciences, Streatham Campus, University of Exeter

Project Outline:

Chemical pollutants are a key environmental stressor that contributes to population declines in wild organisms, and many can cause long lasting effects that can manifest long after the exposure took place by altering the epigenome. This project will develop a rapid and effective testing system able to predict which chemicals can affect the epigenome in a long lasting manner. The zebrafish embryo model will be used to identify windows of sensitivity for chemical exposures most likely to result in epigenetic effects, and determine whether long lasting alterations of the epigenome took place. To do so, ecotoxicology, genomics and bioinformatics approaches will be used to develop a system capable of accurately predicting the long term effects of chemical exposures and understanding the mechanistic bases of those effects. The project will build upon previous datasets and expertise of the supervisors and their teams, who are internationally recognised experts in these fields.

The project addresses an emerging area of concern and will contribute to assessing whether exposures to environmental chemicals can result in adverse effects to individuals and populations long after the exposures take place via disruption of the epigenome. The testing system is a novel and exciting one that will rapidly screen for chemicals of concern.

The student will develop expertise in a broad range of scientific skills, from ecotoxicology and embryo testing systems to epigenomics, including molecular biology techniques and bioinformatics. Further, the student will develop expertise in the application of ecotoxicology data in national and international policy and science communication to experts and the general public.

Supervisor: Eduarda Santos

Host organisation: University of Exeter

Partner Organisation: Cefas

The ECORISC CDT:

This project is one of 22 projects being advertised by the NERC-funded ECORISC (Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. More information on the CDT can be found at: https://www.york.ac.uk/environment/postgraduate/ecorisc/.

Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive unique and outstanding training in pollution science and transferrable skills.

Over the first two years of their PhD programme, you will receive subject-specific training, in: i) ecotoxicology; ii) environmental chemistry; iii) ecology; and iv) risk assessment; and v) the core skills required for an environmental specialist. Successful completion of this training will result in the award of phase 1 of the Certified Environmental Risk Assessor qualification from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The formal training programme will be complemented by yearly residential challenge events, ECORISC annual conferences and tailored specialist skills training conducted as group and individual exercises.

ECORISC students will also be required to undertake two workplace experiences based with our business, policy and regulation, third sector, and research organisation partners.

An inclusive CDT programme

Inclusivity is at the heart of the ECORISC programme. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups and are employing a number of mechanisms, such as the possibility of part-time working, to ensure the programme is open to all. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at ecorisc-cdt@york.ac.uk.

Eligibility and Application process

The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international/EU applicants with at least an upper second class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.

To be considered for this and other PhDs offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available at: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ecorisc-cdt-student-application-202122-2 Applications should be submitted before 17:00 GMT on Monday 3rd January 2022. You will be notified of the outcome of your initial application by Monday 17th January 2022.

Successful applicants will be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application form which will be used to shortlist candidates for an interview.

ECORISC open afternoon

We are running an online ‘open afternoon’ for you to learn more about the CDT or to ask questions on the programme or the application process. This event will run from 1400-1630 GMT on the 9th December 2021 and booking details can be found on our website at: https://www.york.ac.uk/environment/postgraduate/ecorisc/

Entry requirements

The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international applicants with at least an upper second class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.

Successful applicants, will be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application form which will be used to shortlist candidates for an interview.

International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.

The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 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

To be considered for this and other PhD’s offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available at: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/ecorisc-cdt-student-application-202122-2

Applications should be submitted before 1700 on Monday 3rd January 2022.

Your will be notified of the outcome of the process by Monday 17th January 2022.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (International callers)

Project-specific queries should be directed to the lead supervisor Dr Eduarda Santos (E.Santos@exeter.ac.uk)

Summary

Application deadline:3rd January 2022
Value:For eligible students the studentship will cover tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3 years 10 months full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions Team pgrenquiries@exeter.ac.uk