A six-year Natural Environment Research Council-funded Centre for Doctoral Training.
The ECORISC Centre for Doctoral Training will produce a generation of innovator scientists that can identify, understand and effectively manage the risks of chemicals through the use of state-of-the art science and out-of-the box thinking.
By combining mechanistic understanding, theoretical advances and modelling approaches we'll contribute to the development of predictive risk assessment frameworks that will allow society to benefit from chemical use while ensuring protection of the natural environment, now and in the future.
As an ECORISC graduate you'll be an interdisciplinary researcher skilled in experimental, modelling and statistical techniques and able to apply your knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems alongside having an awareness of the wider policy and regulatory context within which chemicals are managed.
You'll be highly employable in global job markets across a range of sectors including:
ECORISC draws together a critical mass of internationally recognised scientists from the universities of York, Cardiff, Exeter, Lancaster, Sheffield, and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrolody (UKCEH) who are ranked among the best in the UK in Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Environmental Science. In recent years our institutions have a research focus on environmental sustainability, demonstrated by significant capital investments made in the environmental sciences area.
As one of our students you'll be supervised by some of the leading UK scientists with international reputations in our research themes and will have access to world-beating research facilities.
As an ECORISC student you'll have access to exceptional shared facilities offered by our core and associated partner institutions including:
Individual PhD projects will address one or more of six primary ECORISC research themes, identified as priorities for research in recent horizon scanning exercises and through our interactions with our associated partners in industry, government and third sector organisations.
Projects will develop novel sampling and analytical techniques to quantify emerging and novel chemicals in water, soil, sediment and biota and new models for assessing the bioavailability and uptake of chemicals into biota. Compound-specific analytical methods along with untargeted screening approaches will be used to provide an assessment of the full range of chemical stressors present in environmental media.
Projects will combine transgenic and epigenomic technologies, in vitro, in vivo testing and the adverse outcome pathway (AOP) approach to develop an understanding of the effects of chemicals at molecular, cellular and tissue levels and how these effects translate to impacts on individual organisms. This will include seeking translation (read-across) from in vitro to in vivo for reducing and avoiding the use of animal models in chemicals testing.
Projects will develop and apply ecological understanding and modelling approaches to extrapolate from empirically derived (eg toxicity test) or predicted (eg AOP) individual-level endpoints to potential risk to ecosystem functions and the services they deliver.
This will include developing the mechanistic understanding and modelling approaches required to:
Projects will develop an understanding of the mechanistic basis and long-term effects of mixtures on ecosystems and new modelling frameworks for assessing the risks arising from the combined effects of chemicals and other stressors.
Projects will develop approaches for assessing temporal and spatial variation in the vulnerability of communities within real landscapes to chemicals. Projects will integrate an understanding of the factors and processes that influence the types, concentrations and bioavailability of chemicals in the environment with an understanding of the ecological and ecotoxicological processes that influence the sensitivity and recovery of species and communities exposed to chemicals and other stressors.
A landscape-scale understanding is essential to developing a systems-based approach to chemical assessment and management.
Projects will explore how cutting-edge pollution science can be most effectively incorporated into the design, assessment and management of chemical products and will develop new frameworks for chemical prioritisation and risk assessment.
As an ECORISC student you'll embark on a just under four year journey designed to take you from a novice researcher to an effective and influential environmental specialist who has the skills and expertise required to undertake high quality interdisciplinary research necessary to solve real world challenges associated with managing chemical risks.
You'll work on a challenging research project and receive high quality training in environmental pollution science, transferrable and specialist skills. Through the close involvement of our associated partners in the design and delivery of the training programme, year group challenge events, student mentoring and their hosting of secondments and internships you'll gain experience of working in a real world environment.
Over the first two years of your ECORISC PhD programme you'll receive subject-specific training, delivered in collaboration with our partner organisations, in:
On successfully completion of the programme you'll secure phase 1 of the SETAC Certified Risk Assessor (CRA) qualification.
One week challenge events held each July will bring each year group together in a residential setting to address real world scenarios linked to chemical risk management and to enhance cohort cohesion. Delivered in collaboration with our associate partner institutions, these challenges will provide an opportunity for you to use knowledge and skills gained during the core training programme and your individual research project. These events will be designed to promote the interdisciplinary thinking and clarity of communication required when applying chemical risk assessment in the real world.
You'll be hosted by associated partners, including the Rivers Trust and Simomics, who have access to substantive ‘data’ sets and data analysis and interpretation platforms. You'll be challenged to analyse and interpret the data to address a real world question and will be introduced to regulatory monitoring data sets, giving you hands on experience in the review and quality assessment of data and of the use of software tools for complex dataset analysis.
Under the guidance of our business partners such as AstraZeneca, Bayer, Reckitt Benkiser, Syngenta and Shell you'll work in teams to perform an environmental risk assessment of a new to market chemical product. You'll develop and present a short ERA report, which will be scrutinised by our regulatory and third sector partners.
Our final event will be delivered in collaboration with our policy partners such as Defra and JNCC. You'll take a ‘hot’ environmental topic and through role playing exercises you'll explore how best to translate the underlying science in the area to a policy outcome and communicate that outcome to a non-specialist audience. The challenge will end with a mock House of Commons Environmental Select Committee hearing.
You'll be required to undertake two workplace experiences based with our partner organisations. Internships will be short in duration (two to four weeks) and will give you a taste of what it is like to work in a partner organisation.
During secondments, which will be longer, you'll work on a project defined in consultation with the partner hosting the secondment and your supervisory team.
All ECORISC students will be based at one of the core ECORISC institutions:
Our 28 partners are from research, industry, policy or third sector organisations will provide expertise in developing studentships, supervision, training, impact advisers, and internship opportunities:
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York