PhD scholarship

Christchurch, New Zealand 🇳🇿

Tracking water contamination using synthetic DNA tracers

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to develop new DNA tracers for tracking sources and pathways of water contamination. The PhD study forms part of a 3-year multi-disciplinary project awarded from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, under the Smart Ideas Grant.

With the intensification of human activities, fresh water resources are increasingly being exposed to contamination from the disposal of effluent to land. Thus, there is a greater need to identify the sources and pathways of water contamination to enable the development and implementation of better mitigation strategies. In this study, we will develop and validate synthetic DNA tracers (both free and biopolymer-encapsulated DNA) for tracking effluent discharges in surface water, groundwater and soil. When multiple DNA tracers are concurrently used, they can provide spatially explicit information about contamination sources and pathways. The information obtained from DNA tracers could support the development of contamination mitigation strategies.

Your role will include:

  • the synthesis of biopolymer particles and the optimisation of their physical and chemical properties
  • particle characterisation using epifluorescence and confocal microscopy, and Zetasizer
  • DNA quantification using the quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)
  • laboratory validation studies on the adsorption and degradation of DNA tracers
  • field validation studies in surface water, groundwater and soils.

The project starts on 1 October 2016 and the PhD position is available from this date. You will be largely based at ESR’s Christchurch Science Centre. You will work with a group of scientists skilled in biochemistry, molecular biology and contaminant hydrology. The development of encapsulated DNA tracers will be undertaken in collaboration with Associate Professor Elmar Prenner at the University of Calgary. ESR is a Government-owned Crown Research Institute.

You should have a strong background in biochemistry and molecular biology with practical skills in synthetic chemistry, and capability in the qPCR is desirable. Knowledge of contaminant hydrology would also be advantageous. Some travel to field sites is required, so you should preferably have a driving licence.

You will register with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury, and your university supervisor will be Professor Jon Harding. The full scholarship includes a tax-free stipend of NZ $27,500 per year plus university fees for 3 years. To apply for the scholarship award, your grades preferably need to be A- average or better.

If English is not your first language, you must have passed English exams with scores that meet the requirements for postgraduate study in New Zealand, for example, an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, and no less than 6.0 in each band.

Please email an expression of interest letter, your CV, your academic transcript and the names of three referees to Dr Liping Pang ([email protected]). The position will close as soon as a suitable candidate is found so we encourage applicants to apply as early as possible.

Job Details
Crown research instituteESR
Reference #19325
Posted onSep 22, 2016
Closes onSep 30, 2016
ExpertiseChemistry, Molecular Biology & Genetics
Job level(s)Other
Work type(s)Stipend (PhD or Masters), Scholarship
More details (document)ESR PhD scholarship – DNA tracers.pdf