Masters by Research (MRes) in Environmental Science - Ponding / Release of Salt Run-Off and Implications for Freshwater Biodiversity via FindAPhD

Inverness College UHI

Inverness, , GB

About the Project

The A9 is a major transport corridor, widely regarded as the ‘gateway’ to the Highlands. There is currently an extensive project underway to dual 80 miles of single carriage way between Perth and Inverness by 2025. The aim is to increase road safety and decrease journey time, which is expected to enhance rural development. The associated research programme provides a range of research opportunities associated with the social-cultural and ecological dimensions of a major infrastructural development in an area renowned for its cultural and natural heritage and iconic landscapes.

It is anticipated that the research, undertaken in partnership between the UHI and Transport Scotland, will improve collaborative links between academia and industry, and generate novel approaches to monitoring infrastructure impacts on freshwater biodiversity.

Project description

Freshwaters support immense biodiversity, provide many important ecosystem services, and are some of the planet’s most threatened habitats. The dualling of the A9 corridor potentially impacts many local freshwater features including wetlands, major rivers and >140 minor water courses. One expected impact stems from the application of salt grit to the A9 for safety in winter conditions. Salt run-off from roads is known to adversely affect freshwater ecosystems in multiple ways.

Genetic metabarcoding’, the sequencing of targeted genetic loci in samples taken from the environment, is a new and powerful tool to characterize ecological communities. This project will combine metabarcoding of the plankton and/or invertebrate community, more traditional species diversity estimates, and water chemistry analyses to investigate how current salt runoff from the A9 impacts local freshwater biodiversity, and how this impact changes across the seasons. The student will gain experience in water quality analyses and the application of high-throughput sequencing technologies and bioinformatic tools to environmental monitoring. One intended research output is a standard protocol that be used to monitor the impact of road salt runoff on freshwater ecosystems in general.


Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in Biology, Environmental Sciences, or similar subjects that provide relevant skills, knowledge or experience.

Facilities and Funding

Stipend of £15,285 for 1 year and full UK/EU tuition fees are funded. Laboratory and office facilities and support will be provided at Inverness College UHI. Students not eligible for UK/EU tuition fees will be liable for extra tuition costs. The funding does not provide financial support for student visa applications and associated costs.

Masters by Research programme

This UHI Masters by Research in Environmental Science is a full time programme undertaken over 12 months.

Director of Studies: Dr. Barbara Morrissey
Stipend: £15,285 for 1 year and full UK tuition fees
Duration: October 2020 – September 2021

To apply
Please send in one pdf including the following information:
• Headed clearly with studentship you are applying for
• 500 words explaining your reasons for interest in studying for the MRes and your relevant experience
• A full detailed CV – including contact details: phone and email address
• Two Academic Referees
To the following email address:

Closing date for applications: 6th July 2020
Interviews to be held week commencing 13th July 2020

Funding Notes

Stipend: £15,285 for 1 year and full UK tuition fees