Cohort 1

Franciszek Bydalek – University of Bath

Water is one of the most precious and important resources that humanity has to take care of. Yet, with new economies and nations falling into the trap of wild consumerism, the clean and available water becomes almost a luxurious commodity in many parts of the world. There are a number of strategies that can help to mitigate or even reverse this negative trend, and certainly implementation of low-cost/affordable, environmentally sound technologies such as constructed wetlands is one of them. I am environmental engineer by training, specializing in sustainable water and wastewater management and with few years of engineering and research experience in constructed wetlands. For my PhD at University of Bath, I will be working on microbial ecology and fate of pathogens in constructed polishing wetlands, thus adding a new, exciting microbiological perspective to my research work.

Microbial Ecology and Fate of Pathogens in Constructed Polishing Wetlands Lead supervisor: Dr Jannis Wenk; Stakeholder: Wessex Water

Rory Burford – University of Bristol

Glacially-derived organic matter is known to be more bioavailable than organic matter found in non-glacial catchments. In spite of this, research into the controls on glacial organic matter is relatively sparse, especially in temperate regions such as high mountain Asia and the northern Andes. Meltwater from mountain glaciers can have a significant impact upon river chemistry in these low-latitude regions – especially in dry seasons when peak glacial melt buffers a fall in precipitation. However, the quantity and composition of this glacial meltwater is particularly sensitive to climate change. In my PhD project, I aim to determine the key controls on bioavailable organic matter in a number of low-latitude glacial catchments, with a view to improving our knowledge of how climate change will affect microbial productivity in glaciated regions. I am working with a multifaceted team headed by Jemma Wadham (Bristol Glaciology Centre), building upon my interdisciplinary background in Natural Sciences (B.A., University of Cambridge) and Physical Geography (M.Sc.R., University of Bristol).

Determining the controls on bioavailable organic matter in understudied glacial catchments

Lead supervisor: Professor Jemma Wadham; Stakeholder: GCRF India, Edinburgh, and NOC

Toby Champneys – University of Bristol

Tilapia are a prominent group of aquaculture species that provide a valuable source of food for millions of people around the world. However, tilapia have successfully invaded every environment in which they are farmed, including highly biodiverse systems such as the freshwater habitats of Tanzania. Declines in native species following tilapia invasion have been documented, yet little is known about the impact of tilapia on native systems and the mechanisms that drive these impacts. Over the course of my PhD I hope to provide new insights into the effects of invasive tilapia in Tanzania, through the lens of  behavioural ecology. My experience in this field began during my BSc and MRes degrees from Swansea University and now continues as a member of the Ioannou Group at Bristol University. Here I am able to utilise the latest techniques in collective animal behaviour to assess the behavioural components of invasive species effects in both lab and field settings. Being part of the GW4 FRESH CDT allows me to draw on an excellent supervisory team led by Dr. Christos Ioannau, along with a host of cohort led training and networking opportunities. I post semi-regular updates of my research on twitter @ChampneysToby for anyone interested in freshwater fish ecology!

How Does Behaviour Underpin the Impact of Invasive Tilapia on Native Fish?   Lead supervisor: Dr Christos Ioannou; Stakeholder: GCRF Africa, Tamatamah 

Elliot Druce – University of Bristol

After a BSc in Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Nottingham and an MRes at Imperial College studying Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, I am now based at the University of Bristol studying for my PhD under the supervision of Prof. Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo. My project uses genomic approaches to investigate how nitrogen from human pollution (fertilisers, waste water treatment) impacts phytoplankton populations in freshwater ecosystems, and to study how these phytoplankton species incorporate this excess nitrogen into their metabolic pathways.

Nitrogen metabolism in phytoplankton under natural conditions and the presence of inorganic fertiliser and organic waste Lead supervisor: Dr Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo; Stakeholder: Natural England

Jack Greenhalgh – University of Bristol

I am based at the University of Bristol within the faculty of Life Sciences. After completing an MSc in Aquatic Science at UCL I was awarded a GW4 FRESH CDT. During my PhD I aim to clarify our understanding of the distribution of crayfish taxa and crayfish plague in the UK using environmental DNA. Environmental DNA is rapidly increasing the speed at which we can detect invasive species thanks to recent advances in molecular ecology. Furthermore, a water sample is all that is required from the field. The results of this project will allow policy makers and consultants to predict changes in crayfish distribution and aid white-clawed crayfish conservation.

Crayfish conservation: using eDNA to detect endangered and invasive species Lead supervisor: Professor Gareth Jones; Stakeholder: Applied Genomics

Annalise Hooper – Cardiff University

My research at Cardiff University is focussed on identifying environmental triggers that induce Cyanobacterial production of Geosmin. Geosmin is a naturally occurring metabolite that imparts unpalatable earthy and musty flavours to drinking water, costing the UK water industry over £200 million per annum to treat. Current monitoring of Cyanobacterial Blooms only indicates a proxy for biomass, which doesn’t correlate with the Geosmin release. During my PhD I aim to establish a link between nutrient dynamics and Geosmin synthetase activity within drinking water reservoirs. Allowing a more pre-emptive model to be implemented to prevent future Geosmin problems.

Environmental triggers for Geosmin production in freshwater ecosystems Lead supervisor: Dr Rupert Perkins; Stakeholder: Welsh Water

Victoria Hussey – University of Bristol

Constructed wetlands are known to be an effective environmental engineering approach for phosphorus removal from wastewaters. Biogeochemical processes such as sedimentation and uptake by biota remove phosphorus from wastewaters, whilst nitrification and denitrification remove nitrogen pollution. What remains unknown is the impact of these biogeochemical processes on carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus species exported from constructed wetlands to adjacent freshwaters, and whether these wetland systems are generating emerging nutrient-based contaminants. In my PhD research, I hope to understand how biogeochemical processes control the bioavailability of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in constructed wetlands, and how these processes could be creating emerging risks to freshwaters. My research is focused on one of the first full-scale constructed wetland systems in the UK, built by Wessex Water to act as a tertiary treatment process in domestic wastewater recycling. I am working with an interdisciplinary team of supervisors, headed by Penny Johnes (Hydrology Research Group, University of Bristol), which builds upon my background in Geographical Sciences (BSc, University of Bristol) and Physical Geography (MScR, University of Bristol). Keep up-to-date with my research on Twitter: @victoriahussey1

Investigating Nutrient Cycling, Retention and Bioavailability of Effluents Discharged From Constructed Wetlands: Optimising Wetland Management to Reduce Emerging Risks to Freshwaters Lead supervisor: Professor Penny Johnes; Stakeholder: Wessex Water, BGS

Fiona Joyce – Cardiff University

I obtained a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Leeds in 2011, and have since worked as an Aquatic Ecotoxicologist for an environmental consultancy in Cambridge. Having been awarded a GW4 Fresh CDT studentship, I am now based within the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University. As a PhD student, my research project will be to investigate the importance of riparian woodland for increasing the resilience of stream ecosystems to floods and droughts. This is a multidisciplinary project involving analysis of invertebrate food webs and interpretation of historical data to predict future outcomes of wooded and non-wooded streams in the context of climate change. This aims to inform policy makers and guide land management practices to help protect freshwater ecosystems.

Does Riparian Woodland Increase the Resilience of Stream Ecosystems to Floods and Droughts? Lead supervisor: Dr Ian Vaughan; Stakeholder: Forest Research, Woodland Trust

Luke Lear – University of Exeter

I am based at the University of Exeter medical school, Cornwall campus, where I am embarking upon my PhD.  This looks at antimicrobial resistance and virulence in freshwater microbial populations, using Galleria as a model immune system. The aim is to understand what can cause antimicrobial resistance to spread through communities and workout the source of the resistance. My background is in evolutionary ecology, with a strong emphasis on biological invasions.

Combining a Novel Phenotypic Virulence Screen with Genomic Approaches to Uncover Bacterial Acquisition of Multi-drug Resistance and Virulence in Aquatic Environments   Lead supervisor: Dr Michiel Vos; Stakeholder: Environment Agency

Josh Rainbow – University of Bath

I have completed an MSc in Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, with a focus on biosensor development for disease diagnostics and monitoring. Before and during my studies at the University of Bath I have volunteered alongside PhD and postdoc students in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. During this time, I have helped develop a number of diagnostic devices for the purposes of DNA detection. My PhD project looks at the detection of DNA from several pathogens commonly found in fresh water sources. To do this I will be developing a multiplexed biosensing device to detect several associated DNA sequences within a single sample.

Integrated Biosensing Platform for Waterborne Pathogen Detection: Improving Public Health Lead supervisor: Dr Pedro Estrela; Stakeholder: Public Health England

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