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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

PhD Studentship possibility at University of Strathclyde

Applications are sought for a PhD studentship in improved analysis methods for brominated fire retardants in the natural environment.

Brominated fire retardants (BFRs) are a broad class of chemicals that are used in plastics, protective coatings, fabrics, furniture foam and other materials to delay ignition and slow fire growth to improve the fire safety of materials. Very little is known about BFRs at low exposure concentrations, but widespread detection around the world underscores the need to learn more about their toxicity effects, potential carcinogenicity and ease of mobility in the environment. The aims of this interdisciplinary PhD studentship are to develop analytical methods for improved detection of BFRs in the environment and utilise advanced chemometric methods for evaluating the data collected from these complex samples.

The detection of fire retarding compounds is challenged by many factors. A study evaluating prescribed analysis methods for highly purified standards showed that many BFRs have overlapping retention times in standard analytical methods, which means that they are not separated adequately when present in a mixture. This potential may increase as the complexity of samples increases. In at least two cases, environmental samples thought to contain PBDE-derived compounds were demonstrated to contain materials of natural origin only. Despite these demonstrated inadequacies, standard methods continue to be prescribed and BFR detections continue to be reported around the world. Advances in two-dimensional gas chromatography, isotope ratio mass spectrometry and position specific isotope analysis make development of new analytical methods possible.

The successful candidate will join an interdisciplinary research team spanning the Departments of Civil & Environmental Engineering (Faculty of Engineering) and Pure & Applied Chemistry (Faculty of Science). We are most interested a researcher with 1st class or upper 2nd class Honours degree in engineering, chemistry, physics, applied mathematicians or other discipline. A strong computational background is preferred.

There is one studentship associated with this advertisement and this student will be based at the University of Strathclyde. The studentship is open to individuals within the EU/EEA only and provides a stipend of approximately £13,800 per year. For further information or to apply for this studentship, please contact Dr. Christine Switzer at