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PhD Studentship: Contaminants in Saprolite: An Overlooked Hotspot of Environmental Concern

Cranfield University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cranfield
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Fully-funded NERC CENTA PhD Studentship
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 25th November 2021
Closes: 7th January 2022
Reference: SWEE0166

Deadline: 07/JAN/2022

Start date: October 2022   

Eligibility  

Any Fee Status (UK/EU & RoW)

Duration*:  3.5 years

Supervisors- 1st Supervisor: Professor Wilfred Otten; 2nd Supervisor: Dr Dan Evans

Sponsorship

Sponsored by NERC through CENTA DTP, Cranfield University

Increasing attention is being placed on the transfer and storage of contaminants in soils, including microplastics, pharmaceuticals (PPCPs), bacteria, and hydrocarbons (PAHs). Recent research has developed methods to detect the presence of these contaminants in, and track their movement through, the soil profile. However, much of this work has ignored the underlying parent materials (saprolite) from which soils are formed.

This fully-funded NERC CENTA PhD Studentship (3.5 years) represents a ground-breaking project using a combination of digital mapping, laboratory analyses, and field-based experiments to assess the extent to which contaminants are accumulating in saprolite. It will be an exciting opportunity to gain valuable experience in the waste management sector. CENTA is a consortium of Universities and research institutes that are working together to provide excellence in doctoral research training within the remit of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Successful home-fees-eligible candidates will receive an annual stipend, set at £15,609 for 2021/22, paid directly to the student in monthly increments, full university fees, and a research training support grant (RTSG) of £8,000.

Project Highlights:

  • A ground-breaking project to assess the extent to which saprolite is a reservoir of contaminants, and a potential hotspot for environmental concern.
  • A combination of digital mapping, controlled laboratory analyses, and field-based experiments.
  • An exciting opportunity to network with industry, gain valuable experience in the sector, and enhance future career prospects.

Overview

Increasing attention is being placed on the transfer and storage of contaminants in soils, including microplastics, pharmaceuticals (PPCPs), bacteria, and hydrocarbons (PAHs). Recent research has developed methods to detect the presence of these contaminants in, and track their movement through, the soil profile. However, much of this work has ignored the underlying parent materials, from which soils are formed.

Typically, soils overlie bedrock, of which the uppermost zone comprises ‘saprolite’. Saprolite is categorised as physically intact but chemically weathered bedrock.

This project will be one of the first to assess the saprolite as a potential hotspot for environmental concern. It will review the state of our knowledge and use digital mapping to map the extent and thickness of saprolite across the UK. In laboratory-controlled experiments, the transfer of different contaminants from soils to saprolite will be investigated, and new field-based techniques will be developed and deployed.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have at least a 2:1 at UK BSc level or at least a pass at UK MSc level or equivalent in a related discipline.

Funding

The project is open to all applicants who meet the academic requirements. Please note the grant covers fee costs for a Home award. Unless you are eligible for such a Home award, you will need to consider how you will be able to meet any shortfall in funding for tuition fees.

How to apply

For further information please contact:
Name: Professor Wilfred Otten

Email:  wilfred.otten@cranfield.ac.uk

T:  +44 (0) 1234 758351

If you are eligible to apply, please complete the online application form

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