School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

The effect of microplastics on freshwater communities and ecosystems

Dr Pavel Kratina (primary),
Dr Ozge Eyice and Dr Iwan Jones

17th January 2020

EU studentship (UK/EU fees only)

We are looking for a PhD student to study the effect of microplastics on freshwater environments and ecosystem services as part of our £12 million EU Interreg VA France (Channel) England Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund to tackle plastic pollution along the English Channel. The studentship is expected to start as soon as possible, and no later than April 2020.

Research environment

The School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary is one of the UK’s elite research centres, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). We offer a multi-disciplinary research environment and have approximately 160 PhD students working on projects in the biological, chemical and psychological sciences. Our students have access to a variety of research facilities supported by experienced staff, as well as a range of student support services.

Training and development

Our PhD students become part of Queen Mary’s Doctoral College which provides training and development opportunities, advice on funding, and financial support for research. Our students also have access to a Researcher Development Programme designed to help recognise and develop key skills and attributes needed to effectively manage research, and to prepare and plan for the next stages of their career.

Project details

Large amounts of plastic waste are transported into freshwater ecosystems each day. However, we know little about the impact of these plastics on key macro- and micro-organisms, and consequently on ecosystem services and biogeochemical cycles. In this PhD project, the student will combine field surveys, microcosm and mesocosm experiments to determine: (i) the flow of microplastics through different food web compartments, (ii) the toxicity and damage that different types of plastics exert on the key functional and taxonomic groups, (iii) the microbial communities that can degrade microplastics and consequences for higher trophic levels.

The student will perform experiments with sediment and aquatic samples from a number of catchments across the Channel region and use techniques and approaches commonly used in our research laboratories such as highly controlled microcosms, outdoor mesocosms, stable isotope analysis, mass spectrometry, and high-throughput sequencing.

The team of advisors includes Dr Pavel Kratina, Dr Ozge Eyice and Dr Iwan Jones. The PhD student will work alongside a post-doc and other researchers in the project. The position is based at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, QMUL.


Applications are invited from outstanding candidates with or expecting to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree in an area relevant to the project such as aquatic ecology, environmental science or a related field. A masters degree is desirable, but not essential. Interest in linking empirical analysis and modelling approaches is an asset.

Applicants from outside of the UK are required to provide evidence of their English language ability. Please see our English language requirements page for details.

Applicants must be able to start on or before 1st April 2020.


This studentship is funded through the Interreg VA France (Channel) England Programme co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, and is open to UK/European applicants who meet the criteria for home fee status (see the UKCISA website for details). It will cover tuition fees, and provide an annual tax-free maintenance allowance for 3 years at a rate of £17,009 per year.


Potential candidates are invited to contact either Dr Pavel Kratina () or Dr Ozge Eyice () for further details about the project. Formal applications must be submitted online by the specified deadline.

The School of Biological and Chemical Sciences is committed to promoting diversity in science; we have been awarded an Athena Swan Bronze Award. We positively welcome applications from underrepresented groups.