Implementation of a fluorescence based sensor for improved understanding of water catchment quality as a function of land use

A PhD studentship opportunity in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol, supported by a living stipend and tuition fees at Home/ EU rates.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 31 July 2018.

About the studentship

This exciting project involves a range of partners and collaborators; our sensor technology partner Chelsea Technologies Group (CTG), Westcountry Rivers Trust, a Water Charity, the Environment Agency (UK Government) and  South West Water (private water utility). This project will involve the deployment and implementation of a UK developed V-Lux sensor by (CTG) in a range of UK and Indian aquatic systems with a view of driving the technology readiness level (TRL) currently at 7 through to a TRL of 8/9.

The key focus of this PhD project is to build two case studies (UK and International) illustrating the potential use of fluorescence based sensing for understanding impacts of land use on water catchments. This research will help support a 3-year award from the NERC India-UK Newton Water Quality Programme that aims to provide policymakers, regulators, business and local communities with information and solutions to help them secure the provision of clean water, and rejuvenate rivers and restore ecosystems.

West Country Rivers Trust and South West Water (in partnership with the Environment Agency) will provide access to river catchments in the South West for our study and our current India partners will also provide access to already identified sites within West Bangalore. Overseas travel, field work and liaison with project partners are key to this project.

This PhD project will help support this programme by conducting research to improve understanding of the sources, transport and fate of aquatic dissolved organic matter in UK and Indian water catchments as a function of land use. Ultimately, the aim of this research will be to inform new monitoring strategies and technologies to help better understand and improve water quality.

This project will be supported by the UK’s high technology sector (CTG), the UK’s water sector, Westcountry River Trust, South West Water and the Environment Agency. The medium-term ambition is to provide robust proven UK technologies to deliver tools that will help drive the improvement in the quality of freshwater catchments in both the UK and India. Through the V-Lux sensor we seek to gain an insight to the extent to which aquatic organic matter is influenced or transformed and its impact on identified freshwater sources. Notably, for the first time we aim to gain real-time information relating to the impact that land use has on the transformation of aquatic organic matter in freshwater systems as they occur through time and space. For example, how DOM is affected by bacterial transformation through rapid changes in nutrient loading and the impact that this has on catchment quality and dynamics.

This project has been designed to qualify (in the field) a recently developed fluorescence based sensor for monitoring bacterial processes in freshwater aquatic systems. The sensor has been built on rigorous scientific principles developed during a NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) funded project award which completed in April 2018.

Funding details

The studentship will start on 1 October 2018 and consists of an annual tax-free stipend of £14,777, subject to satisfactory progress, for three years. In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for the length of the funding period.

The studentship will only fully fund applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees. Applicants who are normally required to cover international fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates.

Eligibility criteria

Essential Criteria:

  • A minimum of a good honours degree (minimum of upper second class honours degree) in a relevant scientific discipline (e.g. Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Science or Hydrology).
  • Experience of in the use of fluorescence techniques for monitoring aquatic organic matter fluorescence, a demonstrable interest in water quality, experience of fieldwork.
  • Demonstrable experience of working/interacting with small medium enterprises and/or other organisations.
  • Must have undertaken a relevant research project at UG or PG level.
  • A recognised English language qualification is required. 

Desirable Criteria:

  • Use of GIS tools for visualising environmental data.
  • Good communication skills.

How to apply

Download and complete the Graduate School studentship application form and send it directly to the UWE Bristol Graduate School. Please ensure you include the title of the research project you propose to undertake, and detail why you are interested in undertaking this PhD project and what relevant knowledge, experience and qualifications you would bring to the research. Please see the Graduate School studentship application guidance notes for further information about how to complete the application form.

Please also complete the Equal Opportunities monitoring form and complete the first section of the Graduate School application reference sheet before sending to your nominated referees.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Professor Darren Reynolds

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 31 July 2018.

Further information

If you have not heard from us by 17 August 2018, we thank you for your application, but do not wish to pursue it on this occasion.

The start date of this PhD studentship is 1 October 2018.

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