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Vacant positions

PhD stipend in occurrence, formation, and fate of micro- and nanoplastics in drinking water treatment and distribution systems (6-19091)

At the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Department of Civil Engineering, Section of Water and Environment, a PhD stipend is available within the PhD programme of Civil Engineering. The stipend is open for appointment from July 1, 2020 or soon hereafter. The position is available for 3 years.The PhD position is a part of the MONPLAS project: “MONPLAS - The training of early stage researchers for the development of technologies to monitor concentrations of micro and nanoplastics in water for their presence, uptake and threat to animal and human life”. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 860775, https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/464658 https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/464658

Job description

The PhD student addresses the release of micro- and nanoplastics in drinking water treatment and distribution systems. The materials shall be followed from source to consumer and research done on how the plastic materials of these systems age, deteriorate, and shed micro- and nanoplastics.

Microplastics have been shown to occur in drinking water, although the sources of the plastic particles are poorly understood, which could include the raw water supply, the water treatment plant, the public water distribution network, and the private networks inside buildings. In addition, it is poorly understood how many of the quantified microplastics come from contamination during the sampling and analysis itself. The PhD student will investigate where the main sources for micro- and nanoplastics are, and which mechanisms contribute to their formation in the drinking water supply systems. The PhD student will work on quantifying the occurrence of micro- and nanoplastics in drinking water sources (lakes, streams, aquifers). Investigate its fate in water treatment plants and how it is retained. Study the release of micro- and nanoplastics from plastic parts of the water infrastructure (water treatment plants, water distribution systems, household connections). The PhD student will develop, refine, and apply various analytical techniques based on for example μFTIR imaging, μRaman imaging, pyrolysis-GC-MS, single-particle ICP-MS. Analytical methods to quantify nanoplastics (<1 μm) are explored. Methods and equipment for sampling and sample preparation suitable for very small particles are developed and refined. The de-facto detection limits of micro- and nanoplastics analysis is a function of the contamination during the work-flow, and methods for quantifying contamination for all addressed sizes and a range of polymers are developed. Methods to quantify recovery of the sample preparation process are developed for all addressed sizes and a range of polymers.

We seek a young scientist with a strong background in chemistry or environmental science and engineering with focus on chemistry. You must

  • Hold a Master degree in Environmental Engineering, Environmental Science, Chemistry, or a similar field.
  • Be in the first four years (full-time equivalent) of your research career
  • Have not been awarded a doctoral degree
  • Have not resided in Denmark for more than 12 months in the last 3 years (except refugees)
  • Enjoy working independently and well-structured together with an interdisciplinary team contributing to a highly topical and socially relevant field.
  • Show outstanding commitment, high flexibility, can cope with a higher workload and you are team-oriented.
  • Have excellent communication as well as organizational skills and are willing to engage in international, interdisciplinary collaborative research, workshops and secondments.
  • Have very good command (written and spoken) of English language.

Previous research experience within the research topic is desirable.

You may obtain further professional information from Associate Professor Asbjørn H. Nielsen (ahn@civil.aau.dk).

PhD stipends are allocated to individuals who hold a Master's degree. PhD stipends are normally for a period of 3 years. It is a prerequisite for allocation of the stipend that the candidate will be enrolled as a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Engineering and Science in accordance with the regulations of Ministerial Order No. 1039 of August 27, 2013 on the PhD Programme at the Universities and Certain Higher Artistic Educational Institutions. According to the Ministerial Order, the progress of the PhD student shall be assessed every six months. It is a prerequisite for continuation of salary payment that the previous progress is approved at the time of the evaluation.

The qualifications of the applicant will be assessed by an assessment committee. On the basis of the recommendation of the assessment committee the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science will make a decision for allocating the stipend.

For further information about stipends and salary as well as practical issues concerning the application procedure contact Ms. Lisbeth Diinhoff, The Faculty of Engineering and Science, email: ld@adm.aau.dk ,  phone: +45 9940 9589.

For more information of The Doctoral School of Engineering and Science: www.phd.engineering.aau.dk 

The application is only to be submitted online by using the "Apply online" button below.

AAU wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background or belief.


Appointment and salary as a PhD fellow are according to the Ministry of Finance Circular of November 10, 2015 on the Collective Agreement for Academics in Denmark, Appendix 5, regarding PhD fellows, and with the Ministry of Finance current circular on the employment structure at Danish Universities.

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