Discovery and monitoring emerging contaminants in run-off from modern urban built infrastructure made from recycled material in the local aquatic environment (fresh water, estuarine, groundwater).

Discovery and monitoring emerging contaminants in run-off from modern urban built infrastructure made from recycled material in the local aquatic environment (fresh water, estuarine, groundwater).

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

OR

UK graduates with the required entry requirements

(where eligibility is restricted please ensure that this is permissible under the Equality Act 2010)

Funding details: Tuition fees and bursary

Duration: Full-Time- between three and three and a half years

Application deadline: 20 October 2022

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: January 2023 or May 2023 

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Ivan Kourtchev or Dr Will Gates.


Introduction

This PhD project is part of the Cotutelle arrangement between Coventry University, UK and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. The successful applicant will spend the 1st year at Deakin University and the following year at Coventry University and then the final 1.5 years at Deakin University. The supervision team will be drawn from the two Universities.

Project details

Waste resources, repurposed for infrastructure materials such as cements, re-formed plastics and the like, can potentially contain significant levels of emerging contaminants (ECs) that may pose a risk to the local environment in which they are installed. Despite best efforts and considerations, park benches, roads and building products made from recycled materials may unintentionally release contaminants into the environment. Also, the waste streams used to create these products change over time. Understanding the variability and potential risk that these materials provide is essential for the circular economy and chemical safety in urban environments. The project will focus on surveying a variety of infrastructure materials containing recycled components, assessing the potential for contamination from these materials and methods that may mitigate the transfer of contaminants.

Aim 1: A survey of the waste stream cycles is required to determine potential repurposed target materials which are at risk of leaching contaminants into the local environment. For example, carpets can contain high levels of ECs and are considered for recycling into concretes and roads. 

Aim 2: Targeted chemical analysis of potential contaminants from materials and surrounding areas (eg soil, urban waterways) from in situ materials.

Aim 3: Lab based stability studies to determine leaching rates, partitioning and transfer mechanisms of identified contaminants.

Funding

£15,000 bursary plus tuition fees (approximate bursary equivalent Australia dollars $27596).

Benefits

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.

The multi-disciplinary and novel nature of the project offers an excellent opportunity for higher degree research training. The successful candidate will be working under the supervision of the highly experienced scientists with complimentary skills from Coventry University and Deakin University. The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills. 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, engineering and biology fields.

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.

Deakin University

Infrastructure Materials in a Circular Economy is an active research theme within a Priority Research area of Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM). Research in built infrastructure lies in Deakin’s Faculty of Science and Built Environment and research on emerging contaminants is a strategic research area in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. IFM researchers have numerous active HDR projects in polymers, fibres and textiles, energy storage and sustainable energy technologies as well as materials design, and have recently invested significantly in reimagining materials in a circular economy. IFM’s infrastructure materials group seeks to improve infrastructure durability to reduce the overall quantity of materials required, and to replace ingredients using waste resources, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of built infrastructure. Deakin’s LES has a long and successful history of HDR research in environmental management and sustainability, wildlife and conservation biology and marine, freshwater and aquaculture sciences as well as in cellular and molecular biology, chemistry, biotechnology, forensics, physiology, ecophysiology, paleobiology and climate change.

Coventry University

The successful candidate will acquire a wealth of new competences in atmospheric science, environmental science and environmental analytical chemistry, including new analytical skills and instrumental methods under the guidance of Dr Kourtchev and Prof Sue Charlesworth. The PhD student will be trained to use highly sophisticated methods for chemical analysis of potential contaminants from materials and surrounding areas. Training on cutting-edge High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry (HRMS) will be provided for the successful candidate. 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.

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.

Candidate Specification

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average. 
    PLUS the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
  • a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
Additional Requirements

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:  

Cotutelle PhD Programmes | Coventry University 

Research degree entry pathways | Deakin

Please note that it is essential that applicants confirm that they are able to physically locate to both Coventry University (England) and Deakin University (Australia).


How to Apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Will Gates will.gates@deakin.edu.au (DU) and Dr Ivan Kourtchev ad5363@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. 

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