School of Geography

PhD Opportunities

The following PhD projects are being advertised in the School of Geography:

Understanding the fate of nano and microplastics in aquatic environments

Supervisors: Prof Kate Spencer, Prof Andy Bushby and Dr Ozge Eyce

Funding: The Lloyd’s Register Foundation and industrial partners HR Wallingford

Application deadline: 06 March 2020

Nano and microplastics are entering the aquatic environment from numerous sources and have been found throughout the aquatic environment in both fresh and marine waters and sediment. In order to predict their dispersion and behaviour and ultimately understand their impact on ecological and human health, it is important to understand how they are transported. Due to their low density, it has been assumed that they behave as buoyant particles being transported over very long distances from catchment to coast with the marine environment as their ultimate sink. However, they are likely to associate with organic (e.g. microbiota) and inorganic (e.g, silt and clay particles) matter in suspension and form suspended sediment aggregates (or ‘flocs’) significantly modifying transport behaviour such as settling velocity. However, this has received little attention.

The aim of this PhD is to understand the association between micro/nano plastics and natural suspended sediment aggregates and the potential impact on both plastic and sediment fate. We will use state of the art correlative 3-dimensional tomography techniques (Focussed ion beam nanotomography and X-ray computed microtomography) to capture, observe and characterise the plastic-sediment suspended aggregates formed. Coupled to a settling column and floc camera system we will also quantify the impact on microplastic and sediment settling behaviour. We will explore both traditional and biodegradeable microplastics.

This PhD position is one of four projects in a mini Centre for Doctoral Training on ‘BIOdegradable Plastics as emerging Environmental Pollutants (BioPEP). This is a multidisciplinary consortium of 6 Queen Mary academics from three schools (SBCS, SEMS and Geography) partnered with 7 non-academic teams and 1 European team, that aims to evaluate the potential environmental impact of biodegradable plastics.

Eligibility: This studentship is open to UK and international students. Applicants should have an understanding of sediment and/or pollutant characteristics and behaviour. Knowledge of FIBnt, FIBSEM or X-ray computed tomography and experience of 2D or 3D geo-computing techniques would be an advantage, but is not essential. Ideally we are seeking applicants with a background in earth, environmental or oceanographic science and related disciplines.

Funding: This project is funded by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation and industrial partners HR Wallingford (View Website). Funding includes tuition fees and a stipend of £17000 per year for 3.5 years.

For informal inquiries you are encouraged to contact Kate Spencer prior to application.

How to apply: To apply, please click here.


London NERC Doctoral Training Partnership

How to apply

Applications must be made through the London NERC DTP website by 11am on 06 January 2020.

For further information eligibility criteria please see the London NERC DTP website.

Below are examples of current projects advertised on the DTP website:

Project title: Rewilding and Natural Flood Management
Supervisor(s): Gemma Harvey ( QMUL Geography), Alex Henshaw (QMUL Geography), Stewart Clarke (National Trust)
CASE Partner: National Trust

Project title: Microplastic-sediment interactions (MiPSi)
Supervisor(s): Kate Spencer ( QMUL Geography), Geraldene Wharton (QMUL Geography)

Project Title: Quantification of the impact of changing vegetation on hillslope sediment transport
Supervisor(s): Stuart Grieve ( QMUL Geography, Emily Lines (QMUL Geography)

Project Title: Investigating the impacts of drought on Spanish forests using terrestrial laser scanning
Supervisor(s): Emily Lines ( QMUL Geography)

Project Title: Past intermediate and deep ocean circulation during sustained periods of warmth
Supervisors(s): Heather Ford ( QMUL Geography)

Project Title: Microbial life and activity on glaciers and in Arctic soils
Supervisors(s): James Bradley ( QMUL Geography)

Project Title: Microbial survival in the energy-limited deep biosphere
Supervisors(s): James Bradley ( QMUL Geography)

Project Title: The future role of Citizen Science in catchment management (physical science)
Supervisors(s): Kate Heppell ( QMUL Geography)

If you wish to discuss any of these projects please contact the named supervisor. For any other enquiries, including developing other research project ideas please contact Prof Geraldene Wharton, Director of Graduate Studies for Physical Geography and Environmental Science.

Queen Mary University of London Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships (QMUL-LDS)

Mobile People: Mobility as a way of life

QMUL-LDS is a research training programme ‘Mobile People: Mobility as a way of life’ supported by the Leverhulme Trust and is led by the School of Politics and International Relations. It draws strengths from both in the interdisciplinary approaches of QMUL in social science and humanities and its extraordinary location in London’s East End as a historical hub of people, languages and cultures from around the world. To find out more information about this studentship please see here. Candidates are required to apply directly to their chosen school and indicate on the form they would like to be considered for QMUL-LDS.
Please note: The deadline for this studentship has now passed and we are no longer accepting application for September 2020 entry.

LISS DTP 1+3 or +3 Studentships

The School invites applications for 1+3 and +3 studentships through the London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership, for projects relating to: International Development, Conflict & Human Security, Health, Biopolitics and Social Inequality, and Urbanisation, Social Change & Transformation. Studentships may be either 1+3 (one year MRes followed by three year PhD), or +3 (three year PhD only, available for those with suitable masters-level social science research training). Eligibility is based on UK residency, although non-UK resident EU students may apply for a fees only award. See details on ESRC eligibility.

Please note: The deadline for this studentship has now passed and we are no longer accepting application for September 2020 entry.

Queen Mary Principal's PhD Studentships

The School invites applications for QMUL Principal’s Postgraduate Research Studentships for self-defined projects relating to any of the School’s human or physical geography research themes. Applications are also invited for projects that might involve collaboration with other Schools within QMUL. These studentships are open to UK, EU and international students and cover fees and maintenance at the Research Council rate for London (currently £17,009).

For further information on the Principal’s studentship please see here.

Please note: The deadline for this studentship has now passed and we are no longer accepting application for September 2020 entry.

AHRC LAHP studentship competition

The School invites applications for the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) for students studying arts and humanities disciplines. The research areas covered by the Arts and the Humanities Research Council (AHRC) are listed here. Further details and eligibility criteria can be found here.

Please note: The deadline for this studentship has now passed and we are no longer accepting application for September 2020 entry.

Queen Mary Alumni Loyalty Award

Students who are graduates of QMUL and are not in receipt of a full scholarship, may be eligible for £1,000 off their postgraduate degree tuition fees. For eligibility criteria, how to apply and further information, visit the Queen Mary Alumni Loyalty Award web page.

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