Impact of Soil Hydrophobicity on Flooding and Erosion Hazards

Impact of Soil Hydrophobicity on Flooding and Erosion Hazards

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

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees  (UK/EU/International)

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: October 1st 2020

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: January 2021

For queries contact Dr. Ran Holtzman


Water repellency (hydrophobicity) is widespread in natural and agricultural soils. Hydrophobicity increases surface runoff and reduces soil cohesion, therefore promoting flooding and soil erosion. It also promotes the preferential flow of contaminants and nutrients into the groundwater, bypassing the plant root zone. Hydrophobicity and extreme weather have an intricate, two-way connection: hydrophobicity amplifies the consequences of extreme rainfall via flooding and soil erosion, while also being a consequence of global warming because excessive drying, wildfires, and greywater irrigation (due to shortage of freshwater) induce hydrophobicity.

This fully-funded PhD project, aligned with GCRF theme, aims to provide the first proper representation of the underlying physics in watershed models. As such, it will improve our ability to predict and mitigate floods and soil erosion, reducing their impact on communities, agricultural and natural soil and water resources--a subject of increasing attention, e.g. see a recent news item.

This project is highly interdisciplinary, integrating physics and earth sciences with geography. We seek a highly-talented, motivated, and open-minded candidate, with background in one or more of these disciplines. Experience with computer simulations as well as laboratory experiments is highly desirable.


Fully funded PhD studentship, which includes bursary plus tuition fees.


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.
The Centre for Fluid and Complex Systems brings together a wide range of expertise and facilities for the measurement, characterization and modelling of fluid flows. The Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience is rapidly building a global reputation for high-quality transdisciplinary research into processes of resilience in food and water systems. The successful candidate will thus be part of two of the UK’s leading research centres for the measurement and characterization of complex flows, with strong links to research institutions and companies around the world.

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.

Entry requirements

  • 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. 
    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) 

Essential criteria

  • a proven ability to undertake independent study
  • excellent written and spoken language skills
  • sound knowledge fluid dynamics, physics and hydrology

Desirable criteria

  • MSc in fluid physics, earth science, hydrology, physical geography, or similar
  • experience with hydrological modelling
  • solid understanding of standard statistical techniques
  • solid understanding of quantitative research techniquesintermediate programming skills
  • intermediate programming skills

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr Ran Holtzman

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.

Apply to Coventry University