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PhD Studentship - Identifying, Characterising, Applying Plastic-degrading Enzyme

Anglia Ruskin University - Faculty of Science & Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Cambridge
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £18,622 per year tax-free stipend (2023-24 rate).
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 20th December 2023
Closes: 3rd March 2024
Reference: 546408
 

About ARU:
We are ranked in the world’s top 350 institutions in the 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and we are a global university transforming lives through innovative, inclusive and entrepreneurial education and research. Our research institutes and four faculties bridge scientific, technical and creative fields. We deliver impactful research which tackles pressing issues and makes a real difference to our communities. Our academic excellence has been recognised by the UK’s Higher Education funding bodies, with 16 of our research areas assessed as world-leading. In 2021, we were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our world-leading music therapy work.

About the Role:
Anglia Ruskin University is inviting applications for a fully-funded Vice-Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship for a period of 36 months within the School of Life Sciences, Science and Engineering.

Project Description:
Combining microbiology, biochemistry, genetic modification, chemical engineering and management research methodologies, this interdisciplinary project is an exciting opportunity for an enterprising and ambitious student to work in the cutting-edge research area of enzymatic plastic recycling and recycling technology adaptation by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The student will work with a cross-disciplinary supervisory team who will guide and train the student in various techniques to be used in the project. There may be a chance to interreact with industrial partners and non-government organisations as well as environmental bodies as the project progresses.

Having access to various environmental isolates, the student will screen for new potential plastic degrading enzymes using experimental methods and bioinformatics. Using molecular biology and biochemistry techniques, the student will express, purify and characterise new enzymes. To help inform the development of innovative enzyme-based recycling technologies, the student will meet stakeholders and design and analyse surveys to identify the drivers and barriers to SMEs adapting recycling technology.

Plastic pollution is threatening ecosystems, human health, and the economy, with the effects felt most severely by vulnerable/poor populations and recycling strategies to reduce plastic waste are needed. Enzymes that can break down plastics such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) are of particular interest as they offer repeated and specific degradation and recycling of plastic polymers into high quality plastic products. Naturally occurring enzymes with some specificity to plastic polymers can be bioengineered to work optimally in industrial recycling processes.

To be successful, plastic recycling technologies must be scalable and economical across large as well as SMEs. In the best possible way, research and technological advances in plastic recycling facilitate businesses to implement recycling strategies with the aim to work towards UK government’s net-zero strategy, which includes the use of recycled plastics (UK Government, 2021). This makes this an ambitious but potentially a high gain and velocity project.

The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the studentship Terms and Conditions which can be found on our website (accessed by the 'Apply' button) alongside further information about the project: https://aru.ac.uk/research/postgraduate-research/vc-phd-scholarships and enquiries can be directed to phdscholarships@aru.ac.uk.

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting welfare of our staff and students and expect all staff to share this commitment.

We value diversity at ARU and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

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