PhD student in Environmental Science focusing on modelling plastic in the environment

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 24 Apr 2023

Ref. No. SU FV-1112-23

at the Department of Environmental Science . Closing date: 24 April 2023.

The Department of Environmental Science is one of the biggest departments at the Faculty of Science. The department consists of four units with more than 190 researchers, teachers, doctoral students and technical/administrative staff from over 30 countries. Research and teaching focuses on chemical contaminants, atmospheric science, biogeochemistry and (eco)toxicology. As an employee at the Department of Environmental Science you will be part of a dynamic environment with research in leading research areas and with a strong international profile.

Research in the Contaminant Chemistry Unit focuses on the occurrence and behaviour of pollutants in the environment. Areas of particular focus include the discovery of new contaminants, understanding the physical, chemical, and biological pathways that contaminants follow, and the development of novel tools and techniques for sampling and analysis. We strive to synthesize our scientific understanding about the sources, transport, transformation, bioaccumulation and pharmacokinetics of environmental contaminants into mathematical models that inspire new scientific hypotheses, and support environmental decision-making.

Project description
In this PHD project, the successful applicant will contribute to the development of an evolving suite of process-based models of plastic pollution based on mass balance principles.  Plastic pollution in the environment is composed of materials with a wide range of properties, composition, size, and shape.  And, plastic in the environment generates a “chemical halo” of leached additives and polymer degradation products, and attracts a “biological halo” of microorganisms and algae.  Understanding the potential environmental impacts of plastic requires knowledge of environmental exposure to the complex physical, chemical and biological footprint of pollution it causes.  Process-based models confront this challenge by describing the complex pollution footprint produced by plastic, and by providing a platform for synthesizing scientific understanding about sources, environmental processes, transport pathways, and concentrations of different forms of plastic pollution. 

The PHD student will join an international team of model developers who are working on development of open-source mass balance models for plastic in evaluative environments, and at regional and global scales. The research will entail identifying key drivers of uncertainty and knowledge gaps in the models, literature research to develop refined models and collect new data from the rapidly evolving scientific literature about plastic pollution, development and evaluation of process models that can be incorporated into the team’s mass balance modelling platform, and evaluation of the models in case studies comparing the models against field and laboratory data, and comparing the environmental performance of alternative plastic materials.

Qualification requirements
To meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 credits must be in the second cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere.

In order to meet the specific entry requirements, for doctoral studies in Environmental Science, at least 45 of the credits at the second cycle must be in one of the natural sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Physics, or Meteorology) including a 30 credits thesis project. The applicant should also have 30 credits in other natural science subjects different from the major.

The qualification requirements must be met by the deadline for applications.

The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on their ability to successfully pursue the research education. Special emphasis is put on the applicant’s knowledge and skills within the subject area, ability to express her/himself verbally and in writing, analytical aptitude, creativity, initiative and independence, and a capacity for working together with others. The evaluation will be made based on the relevance of past education and experience, grades from previous university courses (in particular at the advanced level), the quality and ambition of the independent project work, references, a cover letter motivating the candidate’s interest, and interviews.

Experience and aptitude as a data scientist and in scientific programming would be particularly valuable for this position.  The open-source models that will be further developed in the PHD project are coded in Python, and experience with Python or similar high-level scientific scripting languages is a particular asset.   

Admission Regulations for Doctoral Studies at Stockholm University are available at: and regulations .

Terms of employment
Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship.

The term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may be extended for a maximum of two years at a time. However, the total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study.

Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, research, and administration corresponding to a maximum of 20 % of a full-time position.

Please note that admission decisions cannot be appealed.

Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all.

For more information, please contact Professor Matthew MacLeod, telephone: +46 8 674 71 68, .

Union representatives
Ingrid Lander (Saco-S), telephone: +46 708 16 26 64, , Alejandra Pizarro Carrasco (Fackförbundet ST/Lärarförbundet), telephone: +46 8 16 34 89, , (SEKO), and PhD student representative, ​​.

Apply for the PhD student position at Stockholm University's recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. 

Please include the following information with your application

  • Your contact details and personal data
  • Your highest degree
  • Your language skills
  • Contact details for 2–3 references

and, in addition, please include the following documents

  • Cover letter motivating your interest for this position
  • CV – degrees and other completed courses, work experience, and a list of degree projects/theses
  • Degree certificates and grades confirming that you meet the general and specific entry requirements (no more than 6 files)
  • Optional letters of recommendation (no more than 6 files)
  • Degree projects/theses (no more than 6 files).

The instructions for applicants are available at: How to apply for a position .

You are welcome to apply!

Stockholm University contributes to the development of sustainable democratic society through knowledge, enlightenment and the pursuit of truth.

URL to this page

View or Apply

Similar Positions