PhD Studentship: The characterisation of different pollution sources and microplastics in air

Updated: about 1 month ago
Location: Nottingham, SCOTLAND
Deadline: 25 Aug 2022

Closing Date
Thursday, 25th August 2022

Supervisor: Dr Salim Alam

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Liz Bailey, Dr Sarah Cook

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

Research Title
The characterisation of different pollution sources and microplastics in air

Research Description

Poor air quality costs the UK economy up to £22 billion per year and accounts for ca. 50,000 premature deaths. Clean air, therefore, plays a fundamental role in supporting both human and environmental health. Ongoing changes to our daily lives, transport and agricultural systems, and energy supplies will give rise to significant changes in the nature and type of emissions over the next few years. For example, reduction of industrial and automotive emissions is increasing the importance of emissions from other sources such as personal care products, cooking and wood-burning. Concerns about micro- and nano-plastic pollution including the findings that these particles may be a vector for trace metals (Hildebrandt et al., 2021), and that such particles penetrate deep into lung tissue (Jenner et al., 2022), means that more research regarding their fate is urgently needed. The project will use a range of analytical techniques to characterise volatile organic compounds, inorganics and nano-plastics in air, from a variety of sources. Techniques will include Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTRMS), and thermal desorption (TD) techniques to identify and quantify key pollutants in the atmosphere. The coupling of PTRMS and TD techniques will be explored and developed to quantify small quantities of nano-plastics in environmental samples, while continuing to measure volatile organic compounds. A variety of pollutant sources will be characterised including agricultural emissions and engine emissions. The project will provide advanced training in analytical and environmental instrumentation and enhance understanding of the sources and transformations of key air pollutants in the urban atmosphere.

Award Start Date: 01/10/2022

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 (currently £15,285 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
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