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PhD Studentship: NERC RED ALERT CDT Studentship for 2024 Entry – Development of Automated, Inline Sensors for Real-Time Monitoring of Metal Pollutants in Freshwater Environments. PhD in Biosciences

University of Exeter - Biosciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: EU Students, International Students, Self-funded Students, UK Students
Funding amount: £18,622 a stipend for 3.5 years (current award for 2023-24) in line with UK Research and Innovation rates Payment of university tuition fee; a research budget of £11,000 for conferences, lab, field and research expenses
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 13th February 2024
Closes: 14th March 2024
Reference: 5058

About the Partnership

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Centre for Doctoral Training in Real-Time Digital Water-Based Systems for Environmental Health Protection (RED ALERT CDT).  The NERC RED ALERT CDT consists the University of Bath, Bangor University, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter plus the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.  RED-ALERT CDT’s vision is to train and empower a new generation of leaders to transform how we manage aquatic   environmental health via Real-Time Digital Water-Based Systems.

For eligible successful applicants, the studentship comprises:

  • A stipend for 3.5 years (currently £18,622 p.a. for 2023-24) in line with UK Research and Innovation rates
  • Payment of university tuition fee;
  • A research budget of £11,000 for conferences, lab, field and research expenses;

Project Background:

Currently, quantification of dissolved metal pollutants in watercourses is hugely variable in convenience, speed and data quality. For many metals, accurate results are only achieved by slow and labour-intensive sampling and lab-based analysis. To address this unmet need, this project will develop colourimetric sensing devices that can remain submerged in water and provide frequent, automated measurements of specific metal cation concentrations. Sensors will be based upon lab-synthesised organic molecules that undergo colour change upon exposure to a specific metal, immobilised on a transparent surface to prevent them being washed away, whilst enabling optical measurement to take place to quantify metal concentrations.

This is a multidisciplinary project that will apply synthetic organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, metal coordination chemistry and miniaturised device engineering to construct a sensor device employing spectroscopic analysis. Collaboration and interaction with aquatic ecophysiologists and ecotoxicologists, as well as biosensor researchers and environmental/water organisations and the new Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW; https://www.exeter.ac.uk/research/creww/) will facilitate application of this technology in environmental monitoring of metal pollution in freshwater environments. However, the foundation of this project is the design, synthesis and evaluation of novel sensor molecules, hence the successful applicant will require expertise in, and enthusiasm for, synthetic organic chemistry.

Essential:

A degree in Chemistry, or a degree in a related subject with considerable Chemistry content.

Evidence of aptitude and enthusiasm for organic synthesis.

Experience of organic chemistry research in a research lab environment.

Either evidence of a multidisciplinary background and mindset; or a willingness to embrace cross-discipline research and an ability to develop skills in unfamiliar research areas.

Effective written and oral scientific communication skills, appropriate both to specialist and non-specialist audiences, and in both formal and informal settings.

Imaginative and innovative approach to research.

Ability to conduct lab-based research confidently, safely (with adherence to current health and safety legislation), and with growing independence and astute time management.

Able to build contacts and participate in internal and external networks for the exchange of information and collaboration.

Desired:

Experience in the following areas of chemistry: sensors, photoswitches, metal coordination chemistry, binding studies, analytical chemistry (especially involving UV-vis spectroscopy), polymer chemistry.

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.

  • CV
  • Personal Statement
  • Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained.
  • If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your current proficiency in English, please see the entry requirements for details.
  • Two references
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