PhD Studentship in Computer Modelling of New Contaminants in River Systems

University of Sussex - Geography

Application deadline: September 15, 2017

Supervisor: Prof. Joseph Alcamo

Project Description

Continental-scale modelling of water quality is a new branch of science which aims to provide a continental-scale overview of water pollution in rivers and the cause of this pollution. It is used to identify hot spot areas of rapid changes in river quality and how these changes are linked to global issues such as food security, the conservation of biodiversity, and climate change.  

Although continental-scale models cover “conventional pollutants” such as bacteria and decomposable wastes, they do not yet include pharmaceutical residues and other “new contaminants”. The presence in river water of pharmaceutical residues, including antibiotics, is of concern because it can contribute to the build-up of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the aquatic environment. In addition, pharmaceutical residues and other chemicals can disrupt the endocrine systems of people that ingest river water, either as drinking water supply, or for bathing, washing clothes, and other household purposes.

For this PhD studentship Sussex University is looking for a Masters’ graduate in informatics, computer science, geostatistics, or other discipline concerned with computational science. A strong interest in applying computational science to critical environ-mental problems is required, but prior experience in computer modelling is desired but not required.

The main objectives of this PhD project are to extend an existing continental-scale water quality model, “WorldQual”, to include key pharmaceutical chemical residues, and to use the extended model to estimate the current levels of these residues in world river systems.

The project will involve three main steps:

  1. Developing and implementing a methodology for computing the wastewater loadings of key pharmaceutical residues on a country and grid-cell basis.
  2. Implementing changes in the existing WorldQual model to simulate the river concentrations of pharmaceutical residues.
  3. Validating the new model of river pharmaceutical residues.

To accomplish these tasks the PhD student will work closely with the his/her Supervisor at the University of Sussex and the WorldQual modelling team at the University of Kassel in Germany.

Please contact Prof. Joseph Alcamo for further details (

Studentship details

The studentship is for 3.5 years (full Home/EU fee waiver, stipend Research Council equivalent rate). Only full-time students will be accepted. Applications are welcome from non-UK applicants on the understanding that the fee waiver is set at Home/EU rates only.

Funding and application notes

Apply for PhD in Geography, September 2017 entry via our online system:

Include a statement of interest (up to 2 pages) and a copy of your curriculum vitae/resume and transcripts. Mention Sussex Sustainability Research Programme funded studentship in the funding section.

Link to online application system:

For entry requirements please see:

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