NERC RED ALERT CDT: STREAM: Study of Two Rivers’ eDNA and Anthropogenic Pollutant Monitoring - PhD via FindAPhD

Cardiff University

Cardiff, UK 🇬🇧

About the Project

Project description

3.5 year full time PhD

The Natural Environment Research Council funded RED ALERT Centre for Doctoral Training will provide training in water-based early warning systems for environmental and public health protection focused around 4 UK and 3 international Living Labs aimed to provide the in-depth knowledge and enable a step-change in managing environmental and public health.

Overflow discharges by water companies as well as run off from agricultural sites flowing into rivers in the UK have been identified as a critical problem increasing pollution and reducing water quality. In several instances it has been shown that increases in pollutants have resulted in concomitant reductions of biodiversity. The focus of this studentship will be to characterise the relationship between the distribution of pollutants and changes in biodiversity in the rivers Taff and Ely. Using environmental DNA and water samples, the student will use metabarcoding to characterise the diversity of plants, animals and bacteria at a range of sites between the headwaters of these rivers and Cardiff Bay. Simultaneously, water samples collected on the same sites will be analysed using Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry to detect types of pollutants and their quantity. To test and validate the impact of pollutants on the species identified in these rivers, the student will develop assays to test for the effect of pollutants concentrations on selected river species; this stage will also enable identifying threshold limits of pollutants concentrations that result in species declines. The results of the analyses of water biodiversity and pollutants will be incorporated in an online dash board that will present research results in a user friendly manner using maps and other summary statistics that stakeholders deem relevant for decision making. The platform that will be developed will serve to provide new data as this is updated on follow on projects that aim at monitoring these rivers contamination and biodiversity.

Application criteria

The student should have a background in ecology and genetics. Ideally, the student will also have experience in genomics and informatics, but these are not mandatory.

Industrial partner 

STREAM’s industrial partner is Afonydd Cymru, who will contribute co-supervision of the student, as well as will provide catchment knowledge, and stakeholder engagement and key networking. 

How to Apply –

You can apply online – consideration is automatic on applying for a PhD in Biosciences, with an October 2024 start date.

Please use our online application service at and specify in the funding section state that you wish to be considered for School of Biosciences funding.

Please specify that you are applying for this particular project and the supervisor.

Information on the application process can be found here –





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