PhD: Transport of microplastic and co-contaminants in soil and groundwater via FindAPhD

University of Sydney

Sydney NSW, Australia 🇦🇺

About the Project

Microplastics (MP) and nanoplastics (NP) are persistent polymeric contaminants. They have been found in many ecosystems on Earth, including rivers, forests, agricultural soils, beaches, deep oceans, as well as the food chain and water sources of many species including humans. 60% of all plastic ever produced is now buried in landfills and, recently, municipal waste landfills have been found to be a large sink, and a potential source, of MP/NP.

The aim of this PhD project is to develop experimentally validated computational models for predicting the transport of MP/NP, and co-contaminants, in soil and applying them to the assessment of risk to groundwater in landfill environments.

This PhD scholarship is available within the Geoenvironmental Laboratory at the School of Civil Engineering of the University of Sydney, working with Professor Abbas El-Zein to investigate nano-and microplastics in landfills and surrounding  environments.

The opportunity is open to Australian citizens and residents, as well as international students. This is one of two PhD projects currently open, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), and undertaken in collaboration with researchers located at Monash and Deakin Universities as well as Queen’s University in Canada.

Successful applicants must have a BSc or BEng Honours degree or equivalent, with research projects in Physics, Mathematics, Civil or Chemical Engineering or a closely related discipline. Preferably, they have experience with computational modelling, soil hydrology and/or contaminant transport. Applicants must have excellent numerical/mathematical and analytical skills. They must also have excellent communication skills, in written and spoken forms. They are able to work both independently and as members of a research team, while demonstrating a collaborative attitude. They are able to write high-quality research proposals and to review, and engage with, interdisciplinary studies. They are driven by curiosity and are highly motivated about working at the interface between fundamental and applied research.

Interested students are advised to email Professor Abbas El-Zein, following these steps:

  1. write in the email’s subject line “MP Modelling PhD – Expression of Interest”,
  2. state in the body of the email why you are interested in this opportunity, and
  3. attach a CV and relevant transcripts, including, for international students from non-English speaking backgrounds, any available results of English testing (e.g., TOEFL etc.)

Funding Notes

Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Scheme