PhD Studentship What Factors Govern Bioaccumulation of Manufactured Nanomaterials in Sediment Dwelling Species

Supervisors: Professor Tamara Galloway and Professor Charles Tyler, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, tel +44 (0)1392 723436

Start date: 1 January 2014

The studentship will cover a stipend for three years of at least £13,726 per annum, research costs and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (currently £3,850).

Background: The manufacture and release of engineered nanomaterials for industrial, commercial and medical applications exceeds many thousands of tonnes per year, and we urgently need to understand the risks these novel materials pose to human and environmental health. Aquatic sediments are predicted to be a major sink for nanomaterials released to the environment, but we know very little of the interaction between nanomaterials and benthic species. The aggregation behaviour of nanomaterials in natural waters and sediments has led to the suggestion that ingestion through food is a major route of uptake into aquatic organisms.

Aim: To test the hypothesis that feeding mechanism is a major contributing factor in the uptake of manufactured nanomaterials by benthic organisms

Experimental details: You will study model invertebrate species exhibiting different habitat preferences and feeding strategies. For example, the Californian Blackworm Lumbriculus variegatus is a freshwater oligochaete that uses its head to forage in sediments and debris. The oligochaete Lumbriculus terrestris is a permanent sediment dweller and sediment ingestor, whilst the midge Chironomous riparius is a temporary tube dweller and deposit feeder. Test species will be cultured in the aquarium and their ability to ingest and bioaccumulate a range of commercially relevant nanomaterials studied using a range of state of the art bio-imaging and bioassay techniques.

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The project forms a part of the EU FP7 funded GUIDENANO project, an international partnership that is innovating novel methods for assessing nanomaterial safety. Nanomaterials supplied through the project will include commercially important pigments and catalysts, novel nanopolymers and environmental remediation materials. Ultimately, the project will expand the knowledge base on the factors that influence the ecological distribution and behaviour of nanomaterials, contributing important information for risk assessment.

About you: You should have a good degree (a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK) in a relevant biological subject, excellent communication and team skills and an enthusiastic interest in environmental issues. Experience in aquatic biology and/or nanoscience is welcome but not essential, since full training will be provided. You will join a successful and enthusiastic team of researchers and will benefit from an exciting programme of work at a leading University, offering highly employable skills in aquatic biology, ecotoxicology and nanoscience. As part of the GUIDENANO project, there will be the opportunity for travel and networking with a wide range of international partners across Europe.

For informal enquiries, you can contact Professor Tamara Galloway tel +44 (0)1392 723436 email  

To apply please click on the ‘Apply’ button below

The closing date for applications is midnight on Tuesday 12 November 2013.

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