WACL hosts a team of academics, research and technical staff as well as a number of PhDs and MScs by research.

Job vacancies

All job vacancies are advertised through the University of York jobs website.


Summer placements

Paid studentships will be available in Summer 2019 for an eight week period from July with the Wolfson Atmosheric Chemistry Laboratories (WACL).

  • Determination of the flow characteristics of the new airborne whole air sampling system (SWAS) to enable event driven automated sampling during flight.
  • Why is Delhi the most polluted city in the world?  Investigating the sources of particles in haze events. 
  • DMS Summer project
  • Volatile Emissions from Common Consumer Products
  • Low cost sensors to measure indoor air pollution

The student will be integrated into the atmospheric chemistry group housed in WACL. The student will attend the atmospheric group meetings and will be expected to present their work. Further information on each studentship can be found below.

Bursary is £200 per week for 8 weeks, accommodation bursaries may be available. 

Students should be studying for a degree in Chemistry, Mathematics, Computing, Engineering, Electronics or Physics, have completed their second year of first degree or intergrated Masters and expect to obtain a first or upper second UK Honours degree.

Applications should include a two page CV and covering letter (one page) explaining what about the project and atmosheric science appeals to you to wacl@york.ac.uk by 28th February 2019.

Air sampling system

Steve Andrews: Determination of the flow characteristics of the new airborne whole air sampling system (SWAS) to enable event driven automated sampling during flight.

Whole Air Samples are a way of collecting air of specific locations and bring it back to the lab for analysis on different instruments.  Recently a new sampling system has been developed for use on the UK research aircraft and the mobile laboratory. Due to the them being used on moving platforms it is essential to determine the optimal filling parameters for different whole air sampling scenario by characterising the SWAS instrument flow path and enable automatic sample collection.

3D design and lab measurements of sample lag times, flow rates and pressures, will be used to create an event driven sampling methodology for the instrument control software for the automated capture of narrow emission plumes (e.g. from oil rigs or biomass burning). 


Delhi pollution

Jacqui Hamilton and Stefan Swift: Why is Delhi the most polluted city in the world?  Investigating the sources of particles in haze events. 

Delhi is often in the media due to the very high levels of particle population, with concentrations up to 10 times the World Health Organisation guidelines. Particle pollution comes from a variety of sources, including transportation, burning of fuels and waste, construction and natural sources such as dust and plant emissions.  Particles are the most important outdoor air pollutant globally for human health and have been linked to serious health effects and premature death in the population. The composition of particles is often used to learn information about their emission sources and atmospheric transformations.  

As part of a large UK-India research project (DELHI-FLUX) we collected samples of particles at the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women, a highly polluted location close to the famous Red Fort in central Delhi.  This project will involve extracting the ionic material from these particles into water and analysing their concentration using ion chromatography. This information will be used to help identify the main sources of particle pollution in Delhi. 


DMS Summer project

Katie Read: DMS Summer project

Ocean-atmosphere exchange of trace gases such as dimethyl sulfide (DMS) can have a significant impact on marine aerosol formation and modification. There is a lack of seasonal and long term measurements of this gas over the remote ocean, particularly in the tropics, which restricts our understanding of the emission processes involved and how ocean-atmosphere trace gas exchange impacts on changing atmospheric composition and climate.  We measure DMS continuously at our atmospheric observatory in Cape Verde with the aim of addressing some of these questions.

Typically we use higher concentration (>500 ppb) calibration standards to calibrate our ambient air measurements, as it is difficult to manufacture stable low concentration standards.   We therefore assume linearity of our systems.

Standard stability and calibration information for DMS is developed using a GC-FID in Cape Verde even though the measurements are made using both a GC-FID and a GC-MS.  This is because the mass spectrometer (MS) is not as stable as the Flame Ionization Detector (FID) and the ion source needs calibrating regularly.  Previous work has shown there to be a possible deviation from real response rate at lower concentrations (<1 ppbV) in the GC-FID system however the tests were not conclusive since benzene also showed some strange behaviour and so this summer project will therefore investigate this more thoroughly. 

You will use a dynamic dilution system to produce a range of DMS concentrations and analyse the gas in real time using GC-MS and GC-FID.  This is advancement on the simple diluting of canisters and allows flexibility in the composition and humidity of the test gases.

VOC Consumer Products

Marvin Shaw: Volatile Emissions from Common Consumer Products

Volatile consumer products (VCPs) such as shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants and moisturisers represent a major source of human exposure to Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and indoor air pollutants. Fragranced products, for instance, emit terpenes such as limonene and alpha- pinene, which dominate VOC concentrations found indoors. Terpenes react with ozone to generate a range of secondary pollutants including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, secondary organic aerosols, and ultrafine particles potentially harmful to human health. Consumer product VOCs from indoor sources can also migrate outdoors, affecting ambient air quality.

The placement will involve a series of experiments which will provide insight into potential key reaction pathways and end products of VOCs emitted from VCPs during their intended use. This is with a view to evaluate atmospheric and human respiratory exposure to these compounds. The core measurement technology to be used to determine VOC concentrations in air during this study is based on the Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry approach (SIFT-MS) approach. This real-time detection technique injects up to three different reagent ions sequentially for reaction with ambient VOCs and semi-volatile VOCs (SVOCs), providing high sensitivities and low analyte limits of detection (ppt).


Indoor air pollution

Killian Murphy: Low cost sensors to measure indoor air pollution

Air pollution is a major environmental-health risk and is responsible for millions of deaths per year globally. Despite the fact that people spend significant amounts of time indoors (over 80% in some countries) our knowledge of indoor air pollution is seriously lacking compared to its outdoor counterpart. What is limiting our understanding of indoor air pollution is a lack of measurements of key air pollutants in indoor environments. This is due in part to the impracticalities of using large and noisy monitoring equipment in peoples places of work or homes. This project will use small, low-cost air pollution sensors to develop an instrument that can be easily deployed in an indoor setting. A prototype instrument has already been constructed but this will need further development and characterising. Ultimately this project will help advance our understanding of indoor air pollution by providing the required tools to monitor key indoor pollutants.