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Cohort two- 2022

Tyler Cuddy

Hi! My name is Tyler, and I grew up in a small country market town in the heart of Wales called Builth Wells. I completed my BSc in Zoology with a year in industry, achieving First-Class Honours from Swansea University in 2021. During my undergraduate degree, I spent the best part of a year working at the Danau Girang Field Centre nestled in the tropical forests of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Reserve in Borneo. There I worked with many species including pangolins, civets, leopard cats and reticulated pythons.

After Swansea, I came to Cardiff University to study an MSc in Global Ecology and Conservation. My masters thesis was undertaken in partnership with the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England, assessing the spatial ecology of newly reintroduced white-tailed eagles from the Isle of Wight and how their spatial use has changed over their first-year post-release.

PhD Project: Small mammalian carnivore ecology and the effects of heavy metals on the environment.

This project will take me back out to the Kinabatangan, and aims to assess how heavy metals are distributed across the fragmented landscape which is interspersed by palm oil plantations. Non-invasive sampling approaches will be used to take fur and scat samples from Malay civets and leopard cats (both highly generalist species that do very well in plantations), to assess heavy metal contamination and bioaccumulation within mesopredators as well as genetic population structure (and possible genotoxicity) across plantations, secondary forest, and hopefully primary forest too. The data generated will hopefully allow for the identification of particular areas of concern regarding heavy metal contamination and the populations most at risk of harmful bioaccumulation.

Holly Hulme

I completed my undergraduate degree in BSc Geography in 2017 at the University of South Wales. My subsequent career in Devon developed from an Environmental Monitoring Technician to an Environmental Advisor specialising in wastewater pollution. My experience in environmental risk and impact assessments has motivated me to pursue further academic research in the field. 

PhD Project: Synthetic chemicals in terrestrial and freshwater biota: drivers and consequences of landscape scale variation.

Working alongside the Cardiff University Otter Project and Syngenta, the PhD project will utilise archive data from sentinel species to explore ecosystem exposure to synthetic pollutants, at a landscape scale, and the potential implications for affected communities.

Nicholas Porter

I completed my undergraduate degree in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Surrey. I developed a keen interest in environmental research during an industrial placement as part of the Inorganic Geochemistry Department at the British Geological Survey. During this time, I completed a research project exploring the viability of microdialysis as a novel technique to study passive micronutrient and heavy metal flux in soils.

PhD Project: Sustainable Oil Palm Farming in Borneo: Uptake and Effects of Heavy Metals and Pesticides in Wildlife of the Oil Palm Plantation Affected Landscape of the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain.

I will be based at UKCEH working on my project. My aim is to map the effect of chemical contaminants in the highly fragmented forest landscape of the Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Working from the Danau Girang Field Centre, I will collect a range of samples including soils, waters and biological samples from local wildlife species. Analysis of these samples will serve to develop an understanding of the pollution footprint of intensive oil palm cultivation practices and their impact on wildlife conservation. Through collaboration with project partner JNCC, results and recommendations will be discussed with local oil palm smallholders and local stakeholders such as Wild Asia.

Owen Trimming

I grew up in Totnes, Devon. For my undergraduate studies, I went to The University of Manchester where I got my degree in Biochemistry. After graduating in 2020, I moved to Cardiff, where I worked for a year as a lab technician at the University COVID-19 testing facility. I decided to go back into education in 2021, completing my Masters in Biological Research here at Cardiff University. My research involved qPCR analysis of cyanobacterial eDNA in UK reservoirs, as a method of monitoring the occurrence of unpleasant taste and odour events in drinking water. During this project I developed an interest in environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology. Like many environmental scientists, I love the outdoors, spending much of my free time running and hiking.

PhD Project: Advancing in vitro fish models for assessing environmental pharmaceutical risk: Integrating spatial-temporal kinetics of pharmaceutical uptake, biotransformation, metabolism and effect.

My current research seeks to utilise cell culture methods to assess the ecotoxicology of drugs in fish. Pharmaceuticals have been an emerging class of pollutant over the last 30 years and their adverse effects in aquatic environments are often missed by traditional acute toxicity testing. In my work I will investigate the chronic toxicity of drugs that is associated with their mode of action. The in vitro model will be made up of both primary gill and liver cells so that uptake, metabolism and biotransformation of the drugs can be assessed. A multi-omic approach will be taken, investigating changes in both the transcriptome and metabolome. I also want to explore how individual gill and liver cell types respond to the drugs by utilizing advances in single cell sequencing technology.

I have the privilege of working with Astra Zeneca as my industry partner. My project is also in collaboration with Exeter University and King’s College London.

Ivy Ng'iru

My name is Ivy Ng’iru. I have studied environmental conservation and natural resources management from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. My interest, on a bigger scale, is in the field of ecology, evolution and organismal biology, using insect-plant interaction as my model study. While in Kenya, I have been based at Mpala Research Centre, where I have worked on various projects that study the spatial-temporal dynamics of butterfly populations, ant-acacia mutualisms, harvester ant ecology, and invasive species ecology.

PhD project: Moths in the margins: developing and testing tools to determine the protection provided by agricultural field margins.

Lepidoptera are important as pollinators, but also as sources of food in their roles within food webs. It is thus important that we understand the impacts that pesticide use has on non-target species such as moths and butterflies. There lacks a comprehensive understanding of sub-lethal effects of pesticide exposure as most tests focus on the determination of lethal doses. This limits the assessment of other effects that would impact traits such as feeding behaviour, larval sizes, larval development, mobility etc.

This PhD project aims at developing practical methods to test pesticide exposure levels in Lepidopteran larvae in situ in field margins, and using these methods to compare the effectiveness of field margins in preventing spray drift from reaching non-target larvae.

Rohan Joglekar

I am Rohan from Pune, India. Living in a town surrounded by the western ghats, one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world, it was not long before I found my interest in nature. Being passionate about biodiversity from a young age, I obtained a BSc in Environmental Sciences from Fergusson College, Pune, India in 2018. As my core interest lies in birds, I did my thesis to study the “breeding behaviour of the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher” in India. After my undergraduate degree, I moved to the UK to take up a MSc in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Salford, Manchester in which I completed in 2019. During my time in the UK, I was actively involved with the local birdwatching and wildlife groups around Manchester. To get an insight on the application of genetics to conservation, I took up a master’s project to study the “phylogeography of the common toad in western Scotland and implications for conservation” whereby I used genetic techniques to study the establishment of their genepool within the Scottish islands and mainland. My post-MSc saw me moving to South Africa in 2020 to work as a research assistant at the Kalahari Meerkat Project where I was involved with conducting behavioural research on meerkats. I have now started my PhD at the University of Exeter with the ECORISC CDT Scheme. Besides academics, I love watching and playing football, cricket and table-tennis. I am also into wildlife photography and videography and often make small clips and documentaries about nature.

PhD Title: Chemical Exposomes of UK Estuarine Wading Birds and Potential Impacts on their Migration Fitness.

Combating biodiversity declines is one of the greatest global challenges. Many migratory bird species are declining at rates far exceeding those of their resident counterparts. Impacts of chemicals on bird migration fitness has largely been ignored yet is important for international bird protection. My project will deal with understanding the dietary exposures migratory wading birds in the UK encounter for chemicals of environmental concern, identifying species of wading birds which are most susceptible to these chemicals and determining the potential fitness consequences on the migration capacity of these birds.

Francesca Molinari

After completing a bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS-UHI), I decided to pursue a master in Ecotoxicology at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. As part of my master program, I spent a year working on testing the toxicity of leachates from recycled plastics to aquatic organisms (microalgae, invertebrates and vertebrates).

PhD Title: Using ecophysiology to better predict the uptake of chemicals into fish.

I will be based at the University of Exeter and will work in partnership with AstraZeneca. This project will help us better understand how different water parameters (Such as a change in pH), can influence the uptake of pharmaceuticals in fish. I hope this project will help drive better policy making decisions regarding the safe levels of pharmaceutical discharge in rivers around the globe, by tailoring safe levels to individual river systems.

Judith Mugambi

I am Judith Mugambi, commonly called Judy. I am a Kenyan and an environmental scientist. I am passionate about natural resource management, environmental protection, sustainable development through use of environmentally friendly technologies & environmental health. I have a keen interest in pollution abatement and specifically in water ecosystems.

For my undergraduate degree I pursued BSc. Environmental Conservation & Natural Resource Management at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Where I conducted a research project in Heavy metal pollution in the Nairobi River. I worked for two years with two Kenyan NGOs before proceeding to pursue my master’s degree. For my masters I pursued an MSc in Environmental Technology for Sustainable Development (ETSuD). A joint programme offered by the IHE Delft Institute of Water Education, Netherlands, and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand. My masters research work was in sustainability of constructed wetlands in treatment of domestic wastewater with my case study being in Thailand.

After my masters I have worked for the past 4.5 years with research and development organizations such as Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and research consultancy firms. I have gotten the opportunity to work on projects in interdisciplinary fields such as green technologies, sanitation, waste management, safe water provision, drylands development, food security, environmental regeneration, climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience creation.

In my leisure time I enjoy spending time with family, friends, in church and participating in Christian fellowships such as bible study. I love the outdoors, being in nature spaces, travelling, sporty activities like swimming, biking, hiking, nature walks, games etc and enjoying good meals.

Phd Title: Understanding the Impact of Chemical Pollutants on Freshwater Ecosystem Services.

I will be based at the University of Exeter, Devon, UK and my research will be in partnership with the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH). My supervisory team comprises of 6 professionals from the University of Exeter, UKCEH, University of Sheffield and the Environment Agency, England.

My research project seeks to explore a novel approach to setting Environmental Quality Standards (EQS) using ecosystem services thinking and trait-based approaches in reference to chemical pollution. The ecosystem services approach has an added value of linking chemical regulatory interventions and control measures explicitly to River Basin Management Plans and the ecosystem services they aim to protect. The project will build on a recent proof of concept study evaluating the use of an ecosystem services approach to chemical risk assessment under the Water Framework Directive and will be a combination of modelling and empirical studies.

Through my research I hope to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and the environment while protecting it for the current and future generation’s needs.


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Georgina Savage

I am an early career marine biologist and ecotoxicologist, with a particular interest in anthropogenic pollutants, such as plastic, and their impacts on threatened marine ecosystems. I graduated from the University of Exeter in 2021, with a MSci in Biological Sciences. My masters research focused on microplastic uptake in anthozoans (corals and anemones) and the different environmental and physical factors that alter uptake. Following this, I worked as a research assistant on the MINIMISE project, assessing the influence of feeding traits on microplastic ingestion by benthic invertebrates. For the past year I've been a research assistant on a large, international project called 'Pacific Plastic: Science to Solutions', which aims to investigate the sources, impacts and solutions of plastic pollution in the eastern Pacific. My work specifically focused on the Galapagos, and I was lucky enough to spend two months there conducting fieldwork to explore the role that mangroves play as plastic pollution sinks. Unsurprisingly, when outside of work, you will usually find me on or by the sea!

PhD project: Rapid assessment of pollution in the Galapagos Archipelago.

Unfortunately, despite the Galapagos Archipelago being a remote UNESCO world heritage site, these islands are facing intensifying human pressure from tourism, fishing and agricultural industries. There is now increasing evidence of the presence of plastic, pesticides, oil, POP’s and heavy metals in this region. Traditional analytical techniques usually used to identify and quantify these pollutants often reply on time-consuming, expensive and inaccessible pieces of equipment. Therefore, my PhD will aim to develop a rapid assessment toolkit to assess pollution in the Galapagos.

Olasunkanmi Dosunmu

I completed my undergraduate degree in industrial chemistry at the Federal University of Technology Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria after which I had my MSc at Loughborough University, UK. During my master’s degree, I had an industrial placement in the inorganic geochemistry department of the British Geological Survey (BGS), Kegworth, Nottingham.  While at BGS, I completed a research project comparing the in vitro methods used for the determination of the bioaccessibility of potentially harmful elements in soils.

Following my masters degree, I worked as a chemical regulatory consultant in a private consultancy company based in the Southeast of England, Kent. My roles among others involve assessing the physicochemical properties, environmental fate including persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity (PBT) and environmental exposure of chemical compounds. My interest in the area of my work motivated me to pursue academic research in this area.

PhD project: Analysis of how the regulatory landscape can support the transition to safer and sustainable chemical alternatives.

My PhD project will be based at Lancaster University, working in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Wood Plc along with other interested partners.

Chemicals are important to our daily life and the use of chemicals has grown over the year. With the increased use of chemicals, so also has there been an increase in the understanding that hazardous chemicals such as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs), Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic (PBT) and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) need to be replaced or substituted with chemicals that have low or no hazard profile. There is however evidence of what is called ‘regrettable substitution’ when one bad chemical is replaced with another chemical that is equally as bad or even worse off. The research aims to look at the role that chemical regulation played in decision making during alternatives assessments and how regulation can help cement the principles of green chemistry and sustainable chemicals into mainstream use.

Rafael Georgiou

I grew up on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where I completed my undergraduate studies in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Through this degree, I discovered my interest in using science to protect the environment. After completing my undergraduate studies, I moved to the UK and completed my MSc in Environmental Science and Management at the University of York in 2020. This program has equipped me with knowledge in environment and health, ocean science, research methods, ecotoxicology and environmental modelling. During the course of my master’s, I completed my thesis on the risk assessment of nanoparticles in the UK agroecosystem using a modelling approach. Through these years, I worked in various roles including being a technical and environmental audits engineer, and as a research assistant intern at the University of Cyprus. Most notably, I worked as an associate researcher at the University of Aegean of Lesvos Island. While in Greece, I worked under the ZeroPM program, on a project for the HPLC analyses of micropollutants (e.g., PFAS) in wastewater and sewage sludge samples, bestowing me with knowledge of applying analytical chemistry methods like GC-MS. My research interests include topics such as investigating the release, fate, effects and eventually the risk of synthetic chemicals in the environment. Currently, I have moved to Lancaster and I am working with the ECORISC NERC CDT on a project about the release and fate of PFAS from wastewater treatment works.  

PhD project: The Release and Fate of Organofluoro ‘Forever’ Chemicals from Wastewater Treatment Works

Per/polyfluoroalkylated substances are a broad group of anthropogenic synthetic chemicals which are used for many products because of their unique properties. They can be used as processing aids in the manufacture of fluoropolymers, for stain & water repellent coatings, non-stick pans, firefighting foams etc. These chemicals are very persistent and their wide use has led to their introduction into the environment with many studies demonstrating their effects on wildlife and humans. This project will investigate the role wastewater treatment works play in the release and fate of PFAS and how these relatively compare to diffuse sources of pollution. I will also utilise the Environmental Agency’s National Water Quality Archive along with the Chemical Investigation Programme data on PFAS occurrence in effluents and sewage sludge. The supervisory team includes experts for chemical/PFAS fate and analysis and partners from the Environmental Agency and CEFAS.

Emily Durant

Hi everyone, I’m Emily and I’m from Boston, Massachusetts in the US. I graduated from the University of Toronto in 2020 with a BSc in molecular biology and molecular genetics. In 2020 I moved to Sheffield, UK, where I completed my MRes researching arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and then worked as a research technician for a year. I’m now continuing my stay at the University of Sheffield starting the ECORISC CDT.

My project title: The risk of soil contaminants on above- and below-ground urban ecosystems.

My project aims to investigate how pharmaceutical contamination in soils affects ecosystems, from below-ground to above-ground. I will investigate a range of concentrations of these contaminants and how they affect the functionality of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, where they end up in plants, and whether they affect above-ground insects, such as herbivores and pollinators. This project will hopefully be used as an example to inform policy on acceptable levels of pharmaceuticals in soils.

Rachael Haw

I'm Rachael, and I'm originally from North Yorkshire. I completed my BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Birmingham in 2020, with my dissertation focussing on changing phenology of UK bumblebee species. I graduated from my MRes in Evolution and Behaviour at the University of Sheffield in 2022, where I researched how drought negatively affects plant-pollinator interactions by altering the composition of floral bouquets. My research interests are broad, but I am particularly interested in how the anthropocene is changing pollinator populations. In my spare time, I enjoy being outdoors and doing quizzes!

PhD project: Insect population response to air pollution.

I have supervisors at the University of Sheffield, the CEH, Natural Resources Wales, and the JNCC. I will begin by modelling insect population trends and comparing this to spatial data of air pollution, which will ultimately help inform experimental approaches later on in the project. The goal of this project is to highlight ecologically safe limits of air pollution in the UK, and I am looking forward to learning more about environmental policy.

Angel Ceballos-Ramirez

Hi, I'm Angel Ceballos. I grew up in Tecamac, North of Mexico City loving music and video games. I studied my BSc in Biology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico's School of Science working on Phytoplankton Taxonomy. I then did a MSc in Biological Sciences at the same University's Institute of Biology, now focusing on the spatial characterization of environmental variations in urban lakes in Mexico City. Through this, I gained insight into how environmental conditions have changed throughout time and now foster different types and amounts of organisms, hinting at a potential challenge regarding pollution in Mexico City.

PhD Project: From water fleas to elephants: Multispecies Extrapolation of Pesticide Toxicity Using High Throughput Testing Methods and Dynamic Energy Budgeting.

We will look to develop DEB models that can be extrapolated across different species not often considered in Environmental Risk Assessment. The potential results of this project could assure that Future ERAs cover a wider array of diversity and are more protective of ecosystems and their services across different regions of the world.

Fun Fact about me: I used to be the Head Coach of a Professional League of Legends Team during the pandemic!

Isabel Navarro Law

I originally moved to York for my undergraduate degree in Biology in 2016. After graduating, I moved away and spent time working in agronomy as a field trials technician, testing out the efficacy of different pesticides, fertilisers and growing techniques for maximum crop yield. It was within this role that I realised the harms associated with pesticide use and the lack of sustainability in current agricultural techniques. I am fortunate enough to have been offered a scholarship to study an MSc in Conservation and Biology at the University of Sheffield. I have now moved back to York to undertake my PhD with ECORISC.

PhD Project: Mesocosm experiments to integrate landscape-scale factors into future directions for pesticide risk assessment.

Using novel E-flow mesocosms at FERA, I will be investigating the impact of pesticide exposure on the health of UK aquatic plants. Stakeholders also include the Chemicals Regulation Directorate, as the outcome of the study aims to inform future pesticide risk assessments.

George Pullin

Hello, I’m George Pullin. I grew up on the coast of North Wales where I developed a love for the environment. I have been at the University of York since 2017, firstly completing a BSc in Chemistry, the Atmosphere and the Environment, then an MSc in Environmental Science & Management where I wrote my Dissertation on the chemical contamination of the surface waters of Sub-Saharan Africa.

PhD Project: Occurrence and Ecological Impacts of Pharmaceuticals in the World's Estuaries

This had led nicely to my ECORISC PhD project at York on the Occurrence and Ecological Impacts of Pharmaceuticals in the World's Estuaries. During this project I will develop a small scale sampling and Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) technique that can be performed worldwide to collect samples to be analysed in order to then identify the risks individual pharmaceuticals are having on the aquatic environment.