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PhD Studentship: Biological Pathogen Removal within Slow Sand Filters for Drinking Water Treatment

Cranfield University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cranfield
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: See advert text
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 11th August 2020
Closes: 30th November 2020
Reference: SWEE0119

Deadline: 30/11/2020

Start:   1 February 2021

Status: UK & EU only

Duration*:  3 years

Supervisors- 1st: Dr Francis Hassard    2nd: Dr Zhugen Yang; Prof Jim Harris

Ref No: SWEE0119

Sponsored by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Thames Water Ltd, this studentship will provide a bursary of up to £18,000 (tax-free)* plus tuition fees for three years, and funds for the student to attend several national and international conferences.            

This exciting PhD is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Thames Water Utilities Ltd. We are offering a fully-funded UK/EU PhD studentship, covering tuition fees, competitive stipend, research and consumables, and travel for international conferences. The candidate will be working with a highly interdisciplinary team to develop understanding on the biological removal of pathogens within slow sand filter biofilms. The novelty of this work is identifying the characteristics required for consistent and reliable removal of pathogens through biodegradation. This work will also provide fundamental insights into the ecology of such systems and establish a framework to engineer and monitor these conditions in the biofilm reactors.

This project and aims to:

(1) Further develop a multi-parameter viability assessment of pathogen biodegradation with drinking water biofilms.

(2) Determine the impact of different meiofauna on the pathogen biodegradation rates using pure culture ingestion experiments and assessed using image cytometry and RNA sequencing.

 Examine impact of i) multiple repeat ingestions, ii) presence of different meiofauna and iii) pre-exposure to catchment and treatment stressors (e.g. solar / UV radiation, reactive oxygen species) on the persistence of pathogens e.g. Cryptosporidium.

(3) Establish the link between media character, organic association, reactor operation and biofilm development on biodegradation rates of pathogens in pilot scale slow sand filters.

(4) Examine the impact of process conditions relevant to the persistence of pathogens within the SSF biofilm (e.g. sunlight, algae, dissolved oxygen, redox chemistry and organic matter content).

The results from this project will be published in top academic journals and will be disseminated through a combination of social media, mass media (newspapers and television) and international conferences. It is anticipated that results from this study will inform future strategies for full scale water treatment reactor design and operation at Thames Water.

The student will be widely engaging with a multidisciplinary team to learn advanced biofilm analysis and interact with stakeholders to disseminate the research output. The funding supports travel, along with opportunities to attend and present results at international conferences.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in a related discipline. Would suit students with a background in: ecology, chemical engineering, analytical chemistry, water science, environment engineering, molecular biology, microbiology or civil engineering. 


*To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK or EU national.

How to apply

For further information:
Name: Francis Hassard

T: (0) 1234 758 302

Please complete the online application form.

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