PhD Studentship: Nanosolutions The Bioavailability And Biological Effects Of Nanomaterials On Soil Microbes

DoS: Professor Richard Handy (, tel.: +44(0)1752 584630

2nd Supervisor: Dr Rich Boden (, tel.: +44(0)1752 584452

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship. The studentship will start on 1 January 2014.

Project Description This PhD studentship will conduct research on soil microorganisms, as well as the specifically on the model organism Escherichia coli as part of a cross-species work package on a large EU project called NANOSOLUTIONS. The overarching aim of the NANOSOLUTIONS consortium is to provide a prospective tool for the safety classification of ENMs that is based on a fundamental understanding of how ENMs interact with organisms. NANOSOLUTIONS will identify and elaborate those characteristics of ENM that determine their biological hazard potential at the molecular level using systems biology tools, as well as investigating mechanistic events at the cell, tissue and organism level. This studentship will focus on exposing E. coli and soil microorganisms to a range of pristine and surface-modified nanomaterials with different physico-chemical properties including TiO2, CuO, Au, and Ag nanoparticles, CdTe quantum dots, nano diamond, and MWCNTs. The aim of the research is to identify the hazard from these materials and how the surface and/or physico-chemistry of the materials alters the toxic responses in a range of model soil microorganisms. The approach will include understanding the fundamental reasons for biological effects, such as factors that altering bioavailability, and how particles interact with the cell wall and metabolic processes of microbes. The experimental work will provide samples for omics/systems biology to the NANOSOLUTIONS consortium, although the studentship will focus on whole organism effects there will be opportunities to learn metal/nano chemistry, microbial physiology/biochemistry and various molecular methods that relate to the environmental microbiology. The studentship will be one part of the team working on different species, and there will be the opportunity to learn about other organisms in the work package (e.g., C. elegans, earthworms, marine invertebrates, fishes).

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Eligibility Applicants should have (at least) a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant MSc or MRes qualification. Prior experience in working with microorganisms is not essential but is preferred.

The studentship is supported for 3 years and includes full Home/EU tuition fees plus a stipend of £13,726 per annum. Due to funding the studentship is open to UK citizens and EU citizens only, with appropriate qualifications and good English language skills.

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Professor Handy ( However, applications must be made in accordance with the details shown below.

For an application form and full details on how to apply, please visit the apply button below. Applicants should send a completed application form along with a covering letter detailing their suitability for the studentship, C.V. and 2 academic references to Catherine Johnson, Research Office, Room A425, Portland Square, Plymouth PL4 8AA or e-mail

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 1 November 2013.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview on Friday 15th November 2013. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 1 December 2013 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.                                                          

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