Treatment Wetlands as a Nature-Based Solution for Long Term Phosphorus Removal and Carbon Sequestration PhD

Updated: 2 months ago
Location: Cranfield, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 08 Jan 2023

Start date 

30th January 2023   


UK, Rest of World

Duration *:  3 years

1st Supervisor: Dr Gabriela Dotro, 2nd Supervisor: Dr Tao Lyu, Prof Bruce Jefferson

Reference No: SWEE0205


Sponsored by UK water utilities and Environment Agency, this studentship will provide a bursary of £19,000 (tax free) plus Fees for three years.            

This fully funded PhD project will enable nature-based solutions for phosphorus removal from wastewater treatment to be implemented at scale, thus protecting receiving water courses, and contributing to climate change adaptation. The research will establish the design envelope for the use of treatment wetlands by combining applied scientific research on phosphorus carbon cycling with real-world implementation challenges. The student will work with six UK water utilities and the Environment Agency, conducting field work in full-scale systems, developing innovative wetland adaptations, and assessing those innovations from a business standpoint to map the suitability of NbS for sustainable phosphorus capture.

Along with global population growth and industrialisation, the widespread application of phosphorus (P) has resulted in substantially increased discharge of P into the environment and elevated occurrence of eutrophication in natural waters. Domestic wastewater can be one of the major sources of P if not specifically targeted at the design stage. Treatment wetlands (TWs) are a type of nature-based solutions (NbS) that can potentially capture P from wastewater whilst providing multiple benefits including increasing biodiversity, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration, and contribute to the wellbeing of the local community.

The project will focus on surface flow TWs including systems combined with grey technologies. This work fits within the Environment Agency’s wastewater target of reducing P loadings from treated wastewater by 80% by 2037 against a 2020 baseline. The project will establish the design envelope for TWs targeting P removal and delivery of compatible co-benefits including carbon sequestration, and provide recommendations for their design, operation and maintenance.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK honours degree or equivalent in environmental science, a relevant engineering discipline (e.g., environmental, chemical, wastewater), biology or a related discipline. It is desirable that the candidate has worked with treatment wetlands or other biological treatment technology but not required.    


The project is open to both UK and international students who meet the academic requirements. The successful candidate will receive an annual stipend of £19,000 (tax free) plus fees for three years. Please note that we'll interview as applications come in, thus the position may be occupied before the deadline.

How to apply

For further information:

Dr Gabriela Dotro or Dr Tao Lyu
E: or

to apply, please complete the online application form .

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