1 – PhD Studentship- Emerging air pollutants and their sources – what are they, what risk do they pose and how do they behave?

Location:  UK Other 

Closing Date:  Monday 31 July 2023 

Reference:  SCI2194

Supervisor: Dr Salim Alam

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Liz Bailey, Dr Helen Martin Markes International

Subject Area: Air quality, Pollution, Analytical Chemistry, Microplastics

Research Description:

Changes to our daily lives are giving rise to different types of atmospheric emissions. For example, the reduction of industrial and automotive emissions, alongside soaring fuel costs, is increasing the importance of emissions from sources such as cooking and solid fuel burning (e.g. woodburning). Recent research has shown that pollutants from woodburning stoves in urban areas can be responsible for almost half of an individual’s exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

These changing patterns of emission, and pollutants that are emitted, are currently poorly described, and understood. New monitoring strategies and policies will be needed that incorporate these pollutants alongside traditional measurements.

The aim is to characterise the details of emissions from pollutant sources in both indoor and outdoor air and establish their environmental behaviour and risk. Gas and particulate samples will be collected in conjunction with the deployment of low-cost sensors within homes and urban areas, to comprehensively characterise emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), particulate matter and oxidant precursors.

Advanced training will be provided to run a suite of analytical and environmental instrumentation and the associated software solutions at both the University of Nottingham, Markes International and SepSolve Analytical.

The candidate will have the opportunity to spend several weeks per year at the facilities of the industrial partners in Bridgend and Peterborough, UK, and collaborate with external scientists and attend international conferences. They will also have an opportunity to investigate atmospheric processing of VOC at the Saphir atmospheric simulation chamber, Julich, Germany.

Award Start Date: 01/10/2023

Duration of Award: 36 months

Terms and Conditions: 36 months funded with an additional (unfunded) year for write up. This research studentship is only available to UK citizens and includes payment of tuition fees and a tax-free stipend based on UKRI rates (£18,622 pa).

Applicant Qualification Requirements:

Applicants should have an interest in atmospheric science, environmental science, chemistry or physics. They should hold, or be expected to obtain, a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 or equivalent in a physical or environmental science subject. Candidates with an additional qualification (i.e. Masters) will be looked on favourably. Experience of laboratory and fieldwork will be essential.

How to Apply:

Cover letter explaining why you feel you are a suitable candidate (maximum 1 page), alongside a curriculum vitae should be emailed to salim.alam1@nottingham.ac.uk, after which a formal application can be made via the University website: nottingham.ac.uk/pgstudy/how-to-apply/apply-online.aspx

2 – PhD Studentship: Restructuring soil for improved health and resilience:

Location:  UK Other 

Closing Date:  Monday 10 July 2023 

Reference:  SCI2197

Supervisor: Sacha Mooney

Subject Area: Soil science

Research Title: Restructuring soil for improved health and resilience

Research Description:

Globally, soils have become degraded at alarming rates in recent decades. Restoring and maintaining the health of our soils is an urgent priority to improve food security and mitigate the consequences of climate change. Soil structure is increasingly being recognized as a key property affecting a soil’s health and improvements in structure have been shown to help reverse the impacts of soil degradation.

This research could support improvements in soil function on over 100 million hectares of land globally. Natural mineral fertilizers differ from traditional fertilizers in composition and behavior. A key unanswered question is does adding natural minerals as a crop nutrient to soil offer soil structure benefits which could offer downstream benefits for soil health and crop production. 

In this project, the student will develop a comprehensive understanding of how natural minerals interact with soil to change soil structural properties, especially soil porosity and aggregation. Soil structure is a crucial soil property as it provides the network of pore space through which all soil physical, chemical, and biological processes take place.

In the first experiments, the student will set up laboratory experiments in which X-ray Computed Tomography imaging will be used to visualize and measure soil structural development. The aim is to demonstrate if multi-functional natural minerals consistently improve a soil’s structure across a range of spatial and temporal scales and in contrasting environmental conditions e.g. soil type, crop type. The second stage of experiments would aim to confirm laboratory results at the field scale. 

The studentship will be based within the group at the University of Nottingham’s world-leading Hounsfield Facility at Sutton Bonington and involve collaboration with scientists at a global mineral supplier where there will be potential placement opportunities.

The student will undertake a range of field and laboratory-based experiments where full training (as a beginner) will be provided opportunities to gain key skills across a wide range of interdisciplinary areas including in soil physics/mechanics, X-ray CT imaging and plant-soil interactions. The student will also benefit from the training courses offered by the University of Nottingham Graduate School.

Award Start Date: 01/10/2023

Duration of Award: 42 months

Terms and Conditions: This studentship covers the tuition fee for UK or INTERNATIONAL applicants and a tax-free stipend based on current UKRI rates (c. £18k p.a.). Applicant Qualification Requirements: Min 2.1 in relevant science degree

Applicant Qualification Requirements: Min. 2.1 degree in relevant science

How to Apply: Please email your CV and covering letter (including names of 2 referees) to: sacha.mooney@nottingham.ac.uk

Closing Date: 10/07/2023

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