Would you like to contribute to a healthier and toxic-free environment?
We are seeking a PhD candidate for the NWO funded project Psychopharmac’eau who is interested in interdisciplinary research into the possibilities to reduce emissions and environmental effects of psychopharmaca.
The Psychopharmac’eau project will be carried out in a project team consisting of 3 PhD students involving researchers from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and Wageningen University and Research. You will also work closely with partners in the water sector.
Over a million people in the Netherlands use psychopharmaca, like anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. After use residues enter surface waters, where they may affect aquatic organisms, since psychopharmaca are designed to affect the nervous system. Hence, they can affect aquatic organisms at very low and environmentally relevant concentrations and are expected to mimic so-called info-chemicals, influence natural communication and cause effects on the behaviour of organisms. Yet, there is still very limited information available on the environmental risks of psychopharmaca for non-target organisms.
In this project you will investigate possibilities to improve regulation and policies, better understand trends in use and effects, possibilities to design more friendly alternatives, and assess possible mitigation by water treatment technologies and nature-based solutions.
You will work with state-of-the art technologies. Your training will include a well-structured training program, including technical and professional transferable skills courses, as well as lab visits.
What are you going to do?
- adapt existing models and combine these with data on prescription of psychopharmaca to assess expected emissions of psychopharmaca to river basins
- use sewage epidemiology techniques and high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) screening on STP influent and effluent to evaluate current exposure models as used in regulatory risk assessment
- apply principles of green and circular chemistry and assess if and how the chemical structure of the compounds could be changed
- study the possibilities to improve policies, e.g. by using information from adjacent regulatory frameworks to assess the environmental risks on the active ingredients of psychopharmaca
- test, together with the water sector, promising treatment options for sewage and drinking water and evaluate these on their performance and reduction of effects on non-target aquatic organisms.
You will combine laboratory work, modelling work and field experiments and communicate your results via conference presentations and publications in peer-reviewed journals. You will write a high-quality PhD thesis, while closely working with the project team.
Furthermore, we expect you to be an active member of our research group and to take part in teaching efforts, including assisting in practical courses and supervision of bachelor and master students.