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PhD Studentship: Modelling Pathogen and Biofilm Behaviour within Drinking Water Distribution Systems

University of Sheffield

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Sheffield
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £20,000 per annum & tuition fees
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd November 2023
Closes: 31st January 2024

Enhanced 3.5 year tax-free enhanced stipend of £20,000 per year and (Home) tuition fees

Closing Date for Applications: 31st January 2024

Start Date: Flexible, UoS PhD cohort intake start dates are late February and late September 2024 (contract duration 3.5 years)

This funded studentship provides an unrivalled opportunity to undertake modelling research pushing the frontiers of understanding and managing drinking water quality. In this role you will develop modelling tools to capture emergent pathogen / biofilm behaviour under different disinfection regimes, working closely with a large, multidisciplinary team of researchers in the laboratory and field. The research will make a significant contribution to the UKRI EPSRC funded project on drinking water distribution system biofilms ‘To chlorinate, or not to chlorinate’ (www.tochlorinate.ac.uk). The results of this research will enable the optimisation of disinfection residual used in treated water, helping to deliver a step change in protecting public health whilst minimising chemical and energy use.

You will conduct research to advance from modelling the planktonic to include/incorporate the attached phases of microorganism dynamics, relevant across all biofilm domains. Mobilisation modelling will be developed to specifically describe biofilm-hydraulic interactions. This will then be integrated with quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) approaches that will model in-pipe processes, for the first time. This research will be a major and significant breakthrough, opening a range of possibilities such as the extension of QMRA into premises plumbing. You will help to drive a new way of modelling the impacts of disinfectant residuals within DWDS increasing the accuracy of predicting associated risks and understanding of biofilm pipe wall interactions.

Supervision

The PhD will be supervised by Prof Joby Boxall and Prof Vanessa Speight at the University of Sheffield. The normal place of work is expected to be at the University of Sheffield, with regular interaction with The University of Glasgow and UK Water Company field sites. Travel costs are provided plus a generous budget for professional development.

Eligibility Criteria

Funding is provided for enhanced stipend and UK fees. While applications are not restricted to home applicants, additional funding from other sources will be necessary to cover overseas fees (which cannot be covered by the stipend and no fee waivers are available). Fee information can be found here: www.sheffield.ac.uk/new-students/tuition-fees/fees-lookup

Selection Criteria

The selection criteria are a good first degree in relevant engineering, computing or science discipline and enthusiasm for the topic area. Expertise in Matlab and Python are required. Experience of hydraulic modelling and/or biological applications is ideal but not essential.

How to apply

Interested candidates should email a covering letter and their Curriculum Vitae to Miss Lindsay Hopcroft (l.hopcroft@sheffield.ac.uk). For information and informal enquiries please contact: Prof Joby Boxall (j.b.boxall@sheffield.ac.uk).

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