Enhancing aquatic monitoring and radiological dose using novel techniques

This project focuses on the transfer of radionuclides to marine biota relevant to the UK’s annual Radioactivity in Food & the Environment (RIFE) report.


This funded full-time PhD studentship will be funded by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and UWE Bristol. Ref: 2021-OCT-HAS03.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 October 2021.

The closing date for applications is Friday 23 April 2021. 

Studentship details

This project is a partnership between the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE) and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas). It will focus on the transfer of radionuclides to marine biota relevant to the UK’s annual Radioactivity in Food & the Environment (RIFE) report. Coastal invertebrates and seaweeds will be of particular interest.

About the Research

Long-term annual monitoring around the UK coast shows that the activity of radioisotopes emitted from nuclear facilities is very low (RIFE 25). Modelling the behaviour of these radioisotopes in the environment and estimating doses that arise from them involves estimating radioisotope transfer to a range of organisms. The transfer of radioisotopes from the environment into organisms differs between species and sites. This project will, using methods previously established for other organisms, disentangle the effect of site and species, to provide improved estimates of transfer of radioisotopes to marine invertebrates and seaweeds in particular.

In a given situation, the contribution to transfer of site variables is generally understood. Transfer to organisms is generally monitored by species but it is likely to be controlled by traits characteristic of groups of organisms.  Existing transfer data will be collated and then experiments used to extend them. Phylogenetic signals in transfer will then be used to provide improved and new estimates of transfer.


The project offers significant opportunities for experience in the areas of environmental protection, coastal biology, and radioecology. The successful candidate will spend time at both the Centre for Research in Biosciences at UWE Bristol and, the middle phase of research, with the Radiological Assessment team at Cefas. UWE Bristol is a member of the South-West Nuclear Hub and the successful candidate will have access to its events and expertise. 

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Professor Neil Willey at neil.willey@uwe.ac.uk.


The studentship is available from 1 October 2021 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax-exempt stipend, which is currently £15,285 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates in each year of study.


The successful candidate will have at least a 2:1 BSc (Hons) in a relevant biological or environmental discipline.  A Masters qualification and research experience relevant to the project is highly desirable.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2021-OCT-HAS03.

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application so please have these available when you complete the application form.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted. 

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Friday 23 April 2021.

Further information

Interviews will take place on 12 May 2021. If you have not heard from us by 5 May 2021, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.