PhD Studentship: Exploring the role of the stable oxygen isotopic signature in nuclear forensics

Updated: 5 months ago
Location: Nottingham, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 05 Dec 2022

Supervisors: Prof. Matthew Jones, Dr. Jack Lacey, Dr. James Dunne

The UK’s Nuclear Forensics capability is supported by the Nuclear Threat Reduction department at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). As part of National Security efforts, AWE maintains expertise to advise UK Government in the event special nuclear material is found out of regulatory control. This is achieved using a range of forensic signatures to assess a materials origin and inform law enforcement investigations. These analytical techniques provide a unique insight into the production route of the material i.e. when/where/how it was produced.

Oxygen isotopes are a mature geochemical tool that have been used to study planetary and environmental processes since the mid-twentieth century. More recently, this signature has been applied to conventional forensics investigations. Many of the analytical and interpretive tools are well-established but need to be aligned to the specific requirements of nuclear forensics. This is the fundamental objective of this project.

This research will be performed collaboratively across three leading UK institutions: University of Nottingham, the British Geological Survey (BGS) and AWE. Working in this way will allow the candidate to gain experience and network across academia and industry. The successful candidate will be trained to use isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) techniques at the stable isotope laboratories based at BGS.

This project provides the opportunity to work on a unique combination of diverse scientific fields that are tangible and impactful to real-world applications. Key research topics for this project include: isotope geochemistry, isotope mass spectrometry, nuclear fuel cycle, solid state radiochemistry, surface chemistry. Prior experience in any of these will be advantageous.

Applicants will require a 2.1 or equivalent in chemistry, physics, material science, earth science, geology, engineering, forensic science or a cognate subject. Informal enquiries should be directed to Prof. Matthew Jones ( ).

The funding available for the project will cover a stipend (based on UKRI rates), research and travel costs, and UK fees for 3.5 years. Applicants should be British nationals.

Details of how to apply using the online system for postgraduate study are available at: . Please select “PhD Geography” as the course, include a CV with your application, and in the research proposal section please include “Matthew Jones advertised PhD position” in the title.

The closing date for applications is Monday 5th December 2022 . Interviews for the position will be held on the 15th December. The studentship will start 1st February 2023. A start date of 1st April 2023 is also possible.

View or Apply