Studentship Nanosolutions: The Bioavailability and Biological Effects Of Nanomaterials on Soil Invertebrates

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

2nd Supervisor: Professor Tom Hutchinson (

3rd Supervisor: Dr Benjamin Shaw (

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 organisms, and specifically C. elegans and earthworms 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 the soil invertebrates 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. The approach will include understanding the fundamental reasons for biological effects, such as factors that altering bioavailability, and how particles interact with organisms and their physiology/biochemistry. 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, and various molecular methods that relate to the ecotoxicology. The studentship will be one part of the team working on different species, and will have the opportunity to learn about other organisms in the work package (e.g., microbes, marine invertebrates, fishes).

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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.

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 position 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 Richard 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 click on 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 around the 19th November 2013. We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Those applicants who have not received an offer of a place by 1 December 2014 should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.

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