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JOB POSTING

14 positions for Early Stage Researchers

H2020-MSCA-ITN-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”

MonPlas

Hiring / Funding Organisation / Intitute

The Initial Training Network 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” announces 14 positions for Early Stage Researchers with the option of being awarded a doctoral degree. MONPLAS ESRs will have access to state of art equipment and expertise of the academic and industrial beneficiaries and partners. Positions will be available at Aston University (Birmingham, UK); KTH (Stockholm, Sweden); Bruker Optik GmbH (Ettlingen, Germany); Stichting Wageningen Research (Wagenigen, Netherlands), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Brussels, Belgium); Leibniz-Institut für Photonische Technologien e.v (Jena, Germany); Aalborg Universitet (Aalborg, Denmark); The Queen’s University of Belfast (Belfast, UK).

ITN MONPLAS description:

MONPLAS is a highly multi/inter-disciplinary doctoral-level training network that brings together expertise from different sectors to enhance detection methods for micro and nanoplastics in water (and beyond) and therefore to map their origins and potential public health threat. The breadth of technology coupled with the innovative training package, where ESRs will be exposed to industrial R&D environments, will enable the next generation of scientists to drive research of micro and nanoplastics into the wider environment. Consisting of some of Europe’s greatest experts in their fields MONPLAS will provide tomorrows talent with the skills and knowledge to tackle possibly one of mankinds greatest threats to its existence whilst they jointly develop the technologies for the industrial instrument in collaboration with end-users and equipment manufacturers. The positions are for 36 months and expected to begin in July 2020.

The ITN MONPLAS programme offers 14 Individual Research Projects:

ESR1 project

Title: Fast and specific detection of micro and nanoplastic by flowthrough plasmonic sensing

Overview: The overall objective is to develop the first reliable technology to reproducibly and specifically identify and quantify individual nanoplastic particles. It will then be used, in collaboration with end-users, to accumulate data for various water, beverage and food samples, adding it to a virtually empty current database due to a lack of suitable techniques. To do so the ESR will develop, according to the size of the plastic particles studied, metallic porous membranes of various thicknesses and pore sizes using various microfabrication techniques. Thereafter a polarimetry setup, with a 45 degree incident angle to the normal of the membrane surface, similar to that used in FP7 Positive, will be used to measure both changes in the birefringence of the membrane and its SERS signals as micro and nanoplastic bind to the pore walls for their specific quantification.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Aston University

Main supervisor: Dr Daniel Hill d.hill2@aston.ac.uk

Mentor: Dr David Reece (Renishaw)

Secondments: 3 months to VUB, 2 months to KTH and 2 months to Renishaw

ESR2 project

Title: Portable and low cost photoluminesent (PL) micro- and nanoplastics detection

Overview: The ESR2 will work on the construction of portable Photoluminescence (PL) absorption spectrometers. Initially, ESR2 will use information on optical signatures for different types and nano/micron plastics obtained from microfluidics knowhow. This will determine the most effective components for portable spectrometers such as the PL excitation laser, the type of USB spectrometers and the detection system, which will tune to the specific areas of resonant absorption/transmission and luminescence of plastic nanoparticles. These systems will be tested for the monitoring of water on site (Wessling).

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Aston University

Main supervisor: Dr Alex Rozhin a.rozhin@aston.ac.uk

Mentor: Waldemar Weber (Shimadzu)

Secondments: 3 months to VUB, 3 months to Wessling.

ESR3 project

Title: Detection and characterisation of micro- and nanoplastics in beverages and food.

Overview: The ESR at KTH will develop size based microfluidic continuous particle separation methods, based on inertial focusing. Inertial microfluidics is a passive, label-free separation method and both straight channel and spiral microfluidic devices with unique geometry to continuously focus and separate particles at a volumetric flow rates not reported in other microscale systems will be studied. In this project, inertial microfluidics will be applied for high throughput enrichment of micro and nanoplastics, primarily from water sample and then also in other matrices such as beverages (e.g. beer).

Host institution and PhD enrolment: KTH

Main supervisor: Prof Aman Russom aman.russom@scilifelab.se

Mentor: Dr Miquel Paraira Faus (Aigues de Barcelona)

Secondments: 2 months at Wessling, 2 months at Aalborg University, 2 months at Stichting Wageningen Research

ESR4 project

Title: Detection and characterisation of micro- and nanoplastics in beverages and food

Overview: The ESR at KTH will develop filter based sample preparation strategy to separate micro- and nanoplastics from water, beverage (beer) and foodstuff (salt and honey). Two parallel routes will be investigated, one approach will be a stand-alone sample preparation module using filters with various pore sizes, and a second approach will use centrifugal microfluidics for integrated sample preparation. In collaboration with ESR3, the first stand-alone approach will be integrated and/or combined with inertial microfluidics to deliver different sized plastics for downstream analysis.  

Host institution and PhD enrolment: KTH

Main supervisor: Prof Haakan N Joenssen hakan.jonsson@scilifelab.se

Mentor: Dr Zoltan Palotai (Wessling)

Secondments: 2 months at Wessling, 2 months at Aalborg University, 2 months at Stichting Wageningen Research

ESR5 project

Title: New microplastics analysis system based on quantum cascade laser spectroscopy

Overview: The ESR at Bruker will develop a system for microplastics material identification and quantification by QCL-based infrared microscopy. The first work package is the setup of an initial prototype of a QCL-based microplastics analysis system. The system will be characterized with a focus on diffraction effects caused by the edges of the particles. A coherence reduction technique will be applied and characterized. State of the art analysis methods developed for FT-IR microscopes will be adapted and the feasibility of an application of these algorithms with a lower number of spectral channels will be examined. Depending on the results, the existing algorithms will be optimized or an alternative algorithm will be conceived and implemented. Finally the system will be tested at Aigues de Barcelona in cooperation with Aalborg University.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Bruker Optik and Aalborg University

Main supervisor: Dr Roland Haig Roland.Harig@bruker.com

Mentor: Dr Wendy Meulebroeck (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Secondments: 3 months at Aalborg University, 3 months at Aigues de Barcelona

ESR6 project

Title: Detection and characterisation of micro- and nanoplastics in beverages and food.

Overview: The ESR at WFSR will develop analytical methods to determine micro and nanoplastics in food products or additives, including honey, water, salt and beverages such as beer. The aim of this proposal is to improve analytical sample preparation and detection techniques for both micro and nanoplastics, and gain insight into the oral exposure of humans to environmentally relevant micro and nanoplastics. For this, reliable analytical methods will be developed and validated to detect them in complex matrices, based upon our extensive experience with engineered nanoparticles.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Stichting Wageningen Research and Wageningen University

Main supervisor: Dr Ruud Peters ruudj.peters@wur.nl

Mentor: Dr Maria Rosa Boleda (Aigues de Barcelona)

Secondments: 2 months at Queens University Belfast, 2 months at Aalborg University, 2 months at Wessling.

ESR7 project

Title: Design, fabrication and demonstration of an optofluidic chip for characterizing microplastics

Overview: The ESR will develop and apply an optofluidic-based system to measure the concentration of various types of microplastics for which a combination of diffuse reflection spectroscopy and scattering will be used, while Raman spectroscopy will be applied to identify the types of plastic. After applying a size based microfluidic continuous particle separation method (in collaboration with ESR3), the sample under test will flow towards the sensing area on chip. All optical components for these three detection techniques will be integrated on the microfluidic chip to have at the end a low-cost, disposable chip into a handheld system for characterizing microplastics in beverage samples.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Main supervisor: Dr Heidi Ottevaere Heidi.Ottevaere@vub. be

Mentor: Dr David Reece (Renishaw)

Secondments: 3 months at Renishaw, 6 months at KTH

ESR8 project

Title: Surface Plasmons Resonance (SPR) for the detection of microplastic particles

Overview: The ESR will design, fabricate and demonstrate the proof-of-principle of an SPR based optofluidic sensor for the detection of microplastics. The optics of a state-of-the-art SPR device will be optimized and a novel integrated lens design will be applied that allows in combination with other optical detection techniques noise reduction resulting in a low limit of detection. The free form lens will be fabricated in commercial polymers and functionalized prior to demonstrating the proof-of-principle for detecting microplastic particles

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Main supervisor: Dr Wendy Meulebroeck wendy.meulebroeck@vub.be

Mentor: Dr Miquel Paraira Faus (Aigues de Barcelona)

Secondments: 3 months at Aalborg, 3 months at Aigues de Barcelona

ESR9 project

Title: Multispectral imaging flow cytometry for assessment of microplastic particles

Overview: The ESR will develop and apply a multispectral imaging flow cytometry (mIFC) approach to assess microplastic particles in the size range between 2 and 40 µm based on their geometrical and colorimetric properties. ´Different affinities of plastic materials to dye molecules will be utilized to discriminate between microplastic materials. The number and size of microplastic particles will be detected as well to determine their content. Combined with appropriate separation and enrichment techniques mIFC can assess microplastics from various matrices such as seawater, sediments, food, drinks, plants and tissues.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Leibniz-Institut für Photonische Technologien eV and Jena University

Main supervisor: Dr Thomas Henkel Henkel, thomas.henkel@leibniz-ipht.de

Mentor: Dr Gabor Bordos (Wessling)

Secondments: 3 months at Aalborg University, 3 months at Renishaw

ESR10 project

Title: High throughput Raman spectroscopy for analysis of microplastic particles

Overview: The ESR will develop a high-throughput Raman microspectrometer with laser line excitation for analysis of microplastic particles on a substrate or in continuous flow. The laser excitation wavelength, spectrometer and detector will be selected that are most appropriate for Raman-based detection of coloured and non-coloured microplastics. Automation will include particle localization on the substrate before acquisition of Raman spectra. Acquisition of microplastic particles in a microfluidic chip will be synchronized with an image-based detection. A database of microplastics will be compiled and chemometric data analysis will classify the microplastic particles. Commercial databases will be tested as alternative approaches.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Leibniz-Institut für Photonische Technologien eV and Jena University

Main supervisor: Dr Iwan Schie iwan.schie@leibniz-ipht.de

Mentor: Dr David Reece (Renishaw)

Secondments: 3 months at Renishaw, 2 months at Aalborg

ESR11 project

Title: Occurrence, formation, & fate of micro & nanoplastics in drinking water treatment & distribution systems.

Overview: Micro and nanoplastics haven 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. Finally, it is poorly understood how many of the quantified microplastics come from contamination during the sampling and analysis itself. The ESR will investigate where the main sources for micro and nanoplastics are, and which mechanisms contribute to their formation in the drinking water supply systems.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Aalborg University

Main supervisor: Dr Asbjørn Haaning Nielsen ahn@civil.aau.dk
For applications please use the following link: 

https://www.vacancies.aau.dk/

Mentor: Dr Gabor Bordos (Wessling)

Secondments: 3 months at GLSciences, 3 months at Aigues de Barcelona

ESR12 project

Title: Chemometrics for automated identification of micro- and nanoplastics in water

Overview: Chemical analysis of micro- and nanoplastics in water creates a very large amount of highly complex data. For example, the number of spectra for FTIR or Raman imaging can go well into the millions per sample. The interpretation of these large datasets is labour intensive and subject to interpretation bias. Both are aspects that hamper the validity of micro- and nanoplastics analysis in increases the costs. ESR 12 will develop chemometric methods that help overcoming these issues, allowing a data analysis that is faster, more reliable and cheaper.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Aalborg University

Main supervisor: Dr Jes Vollertsen jv@civil.aau.dk

For applications please use the following link: 

https://www.vacancies.aau.dk/

Mentor: Dr Geert Alkema (GLSciences)

Secondments: 3 months at Renishaw, 3 months at Bruker Optik

ESR13 project

Title: Rapid and low cost detection platform for micro- and nano-plastics

Overview: The ESR will conduct research on the development of a low cost platform exploiting vibrational spectroscopies for rapid and sensitive detection of micro- and nanoplastics. A range of different plasmonic nanostructures (metamaterials, nanorod arrays, and other optically active surface) in the scale of tens to hundreds of nanometers will be fabricated by micro- and nanofabrication techniques (e.g. electron beam lithography (EBL) and 3D nanoprinting technology). The platform can be incorporated into microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip components to facilitate sample pre-treatments, separation, and detection. The platforms will be fully validated and assessed against benchmarking techniques such as mass spectroscopy. This will equip the ESR with skills in materials synthesis and characterization, system integration, assay development and validation.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Queen’s University, Belfast

Main supervisor: Dr Cuong Cao c.cao@qub.ac.uk

Mentor: Dr Roland Harig (Bruker Optik)

Secondments: 3 months at KTH, 3 months at Wessling

ESR14 project

Title: Toxicity of micro- and nano-plastics on living cells

Overview: The ESR will study the ingestion, fate, and impact of micro-, nano-plastics to living cells. Different reporter gene assay (RGA) cell lines responsive to endocrine hormones will be used for the study. The student will develop several bioassays such as MTT assay using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (tetrazole) and AlamarBlue® assay to investigate the cell viability and cytotoxicity. In addition, high content analysis, reporter gene assays, and other hormone detection and quantifications approaches such as ELISA and mass spectrometry will be used to investigate adverse impacts of selected micro and nano-plastics on the living activities and hormone production. This project will provide useful and important information about the risk assessment of micro and nanoplastics, thereby to suggest any possible changes in the use of plastics in food industry and household commodities.

Host institution and PhD enrolment: Queen’s University , Belfast

Main supervisor: Prof Chris Elliott chris.elliott@qub.ac.uk

Mentor: Dr Waldemar Webber (Shimadzhu)

Secondments: 2 months at GLSciences, 2 months at Stichting Wageningen Research, 2 months at Wessling.

Additional information

Befenits

Salary:

The successful candidates will be employed on a full-time basis with a competitive salary in accordance with the MSCA rules and the personal circumstances of the applicant. The successful candidate will receive a financial package consisting of MSCA living allowance and mobility allowance. Eligible applicants with a family will also receive an additional family allowance according to the rules of the MSCA. The exact(net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment and will depend on the Host Institution's local tax regulations. MONPLAS Consortium partners will also advertise the ESR positions individually on their institutional websites, national portals, as well as on the EURAXESS platform. These local/individual advertisements will have further details regarding the scientific investigations and salaries.

Supervision:

MONPLAS ESRs will benefit from two institutional supervisors, an external supervisor and a mentor, ensuring the successful completion of their Individual Research projects.

Training:

In addition to their individual scientific projects MONPLAS ESRs will be collaborating with world leading research groups within the Consortium through secondments. All ESRs will benefit from extensive and varied further continuing education, completing a series of carefully designed training modules and transferable skills courses; they will participate in symposia, workshops and international conferences and will have meaningful exposure to the industrial environment through MONPLAS industrial partners.

Family-friendly working conditions:

Female applicants and applicants wishing to return to research after a period of absence are especially encouraged to apply. Local adverts will detail family-friendly working conditions such as child care facilities if available.

Eligibility criteria

At the core of the MSCA-ITNs is researcher mobility. At the time of commencing their MONPLAS employment, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their (recruiting) host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.

Usual MSCA Eligibility Criteria apply and will be verified during the application process. For more information on MSCA, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/mariecurieactions.

Applicants must at the first day of their MONPLAS employment contract, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research career and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. This research experience is measured FROM the date when they obtain the degree which formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged). Research Experience is measured TO the first day of the MONPLAS employment contract of the researcher.

Application procedure

General guidance for applicants: The ESR positions will also be advertised locally at the respective institutions and local recruitment sites. These local/individual advertisements will have further details including local PhD admission criteria and application deadlines. Please contact the supervisors directly for their guidance, enclosing your CV, a cover letter and supporting documents by email (using the subject header "ITN MONPLAS Application") for the position that you wish to apply for. Please see the descriptions of ESR projects listed above.

 

Application deadline is expected to be the 28th February.

Additional comments

MONPLAS is explicitly committed to the principle of equal opportunities. Applicants will be selected for interview and interviewed using a wide selection of practices, in person or through media conferencing by a supervisory board who will select candidates to be offered a contract. In this way, we seek to avoid unconscious bias increasing Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity and hope to fill 50% of posts by females.


For specific questions concerning the content of the research, please contact Dr. Daniel Hill d.hill2@aston.ac.uk or the main supervisors for each ESR project.

PhD tuition fee:
The MONPLAS Fellowship includes a bursary to cover PhD tuition fees. Specific bursary conditions will be advertised locally.

 

Acknowledgement
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.

Requirements

Offer Requirements

Skills/Qualifications (ESRs 1-10, 13-14)

  • ITN MONPLAS is looking for the candidates with a strong academic background and exceptional grades, who have been awarded, or expect to get before the project start, a Master of Science degree in Electrical,Optical Engineering, Photonics, Physics, or equivalent.

  • In exceptional cases outstanding candidates with a BSc in an appropriate discipline will also be considered at Aston University

  • Please provide transcripts of the marks you have already achieved with your application.

  • English Language: ESRs must demonstrate that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficient for them to derive the full benefits of the network training. Formal English language requirements will vary according to the university at which the ESR is enrolled for a PhD. Please see the local/individual advertisements for the exact requirements applicable or contact your intended host for further information.

  • Applicants must comply with the usual MSCA eligibility and mobility rules.

  • All applicants MUST be within their first 4 years of research experience

ESR11: Skills/Qualifications (ESR 11, 12)

  • ETN MONPLAS is looking for the candidates with a strong academic background and exceptional grades, who have been awarded, or expect to get before the project start, a Master of Science degree in Chemistry, Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, or equivalent.

  • Please provide transcripts of the marks you have already achieved with your application.

  • English Language: ESRs must demonstrate that their ability to understand and express themselves in both written and spoken English is sufficient for them to derive the full benefits of the network training. Formal English language requirements will vary according to the university at which the ESR is enrolled for a PhD. Please see the local/individual advertisements for the exact requirements applicable or contact your intended host for further information.

  • Applicants must comply with the usual MSCA eligibility and mobility rules.

  • All applicants MUST be within their first 4 years of research experience.

Work locations

2 position(s) available at

Aston University

United Kingdom

Birmingham

1 position(s) available at

Bruker Optik GmbH

Germany

Ettlingen

2 position(s) available at

KTH

Sweden

Stockholm

1 position(s) available at

WFSR

Netherlands

Wageningen

2 position(s) available at

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Belgium

Brussels

2 position(s) available at

IPHT

Germany

Jena

2 position(s) available at

Aalborg Universitet

Denmark

Aalborg

2 position(s) available at

Queens University

UK

Belfast