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Award details

Assessing responses to chemical exposure in invertebrate and fish populations and biodiversity across diverse UK aquatic environments, PhD (funded) Studentship in Biosciences Ref: 4143

About the award


Lead Supervisor: Prof Charles Tyler, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter

ECORISC Partner organisations: Defra, Cefas, JNCC

Project Overview

Using some of the longest and most consistent biodiversity monitoring data in the world, this project will investigate the role chemical contaminants play in the decline of aquatic invertebrate and fish populations against a background of natural population dynamics for  supporting more effective future monitoring  and environmental  protection.

Novelty of the Project:

This project will conduct new analyses of extensive datasets to establish which UK aquatic organisms are showing declining population trends, the evidence chemical stressors are responsible, and which  groups of organisms are more susceptible to chemical pollution and why, in turn supporting more effective future monitoring and environmental  protection.

Expertise that you would develop: This multi-disciplinary studentship project will provide an exceptional  training in the areas of  ecotoxicology, population biology, modelling, analytical chemistry, advanced statistical methods, programming and handling big data. Through stakeholders  the student will also gain  in-depth knowledge in conservation biology, environmental monitoring, and chemicals risk, management and  domestic and international policy. The studentship will also include a study of the Japanese freshwater fish and invertebrate data through an existing supervisory UK-Japan partnership that will include study trips offered to Japan, providing an international dimension to the studentship project and training.


This project is one of 12 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: Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive a 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) 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. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Entry requirements

The studentship is open to highly motivated UK 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.

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: Applications should be submitted before 1700 (British Summer Time) on 16th May. Your will be notified of the outcome of the process by 25th May.

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.

If you have any questions on the ECORISC CDT or the application process, please contact us at


Application deadline:16th May 2021
Value:Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months.
Duration of award:per year
Contact: PGR Admissions