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PhD studentship in Biogeochemistry: Investigating the routing of hydrogen from water and feed to ruminant tissues

University of Bristol - School of Chemistry

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 annual stipend, travel funds and research allowance
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 27th February 2019
Closes: 21st April 2019

This fully-funded 4-year PhD studentship is a unique opportunity to carry out interdisciplinary research at the University of Bristol. This studentship is funded by a Royal Society grant to enhance Dr Mélanie Roffet-Salque’s Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship.

The project:

Although the expression of the soil water stable isotope signal in plants has been studied in detail, surprisingly few studies have investigated the relationships between the hydrogen (H) signals of plants and higher animals. No systematic study of the relationships between water, feed and animal tissue H signals have been carried out at a molecular level on ruminants or any other mammals.

The overarching aim of this PhD studentship is to gain fundamental insights in the routing of H from feed and drinking water to ruminant tissues at the molecular level. An isotopic labelling experiment will be carried out on ruminants using deuterium-labelled water as a tracer and the composition of lipids determined using gas chromatography-thermal conversion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-TC-IRMS). This feeding experiment will be carried out in collaboration with the North Wyke Farm Platform. This novel approach will be complemented by the study of tissues from ruminants from pre-existing herds from the World University Network (WUN) Global Farm Platform.

The study of modern systems will change our understanding of water use in biochemistry and animal energetics, provide information about animal adaptation to warmer climate. This study will enable the calibration of a novel proxy for the reconstruction of site-based palaeoclimate records using animal fats preserved in archaeological pottery vessels.

You will become a member of the Organic Geochemistry Unit at the University of Bristol and work in close collaboration with the Bristol Veterinary School and Rothamsted Research at North Wyke (which includes the BBSRC North Wyke Farm Platform National Capability). You will have a supervisory team that will include researchers from both Schools at the University of Bristol. 

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. 

We encourage you to make an informal enquiry to Dr Mélanie Roffet-Salque ( if you have any queries or would like to discuss the project. 

Candidate requirements:  Candidates should possess a degree in a relevant subject area, such as a 2:1 or higher in chemistry, animal science, or a related discipline aligned to the studentship. 

Funding: Royal Society


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