Accessibility statement

Cohort one - 2021

Charlotte Robison-Smith


Primary literature in ecotoxicology routinely covers how single stressors impact organisms, however this is seldom representative of aquatic environments in the Anthropocene. Freshwater ecosystems are subject to high levels of chemical pollution through wastewater effluent and agricultural run-off. It is apparent that freshwater fauna are continually exposed to a myriad of biotic and abiotic stressors, which interact producing either additive, antagonistic or synergistic responses. As a result, freshwater fish are facing higher extinction rates than any other vertebrate group, therefore it is imperitive that we improve our understanding of multistressor impacts on fish welfare and disease, in order to persuade policy and industry away from producing harmful concoctions which pollute freshwater ecosystems.

PhD Project: Hidden costs of environmental pollutants: functional impacts on host-pathogen interactions.

As part of the ECORISC CDT and working alongside project partners CEFAS and BAM clothing, the main objectives of this PhD are to; (i) elucidate the 'ecological surprises' that come from multistressor interactions through the application of bio assays, analytical chemistry and molecular techniques, (ii) improve our understanding of multistressor interactions and their impacts on fish welfare and disease resistance using the established Guppy-Gyrodactylus host-pathogen system and (iii) compare known anthropogenic toxicants with 'green' alternatives on the market in order to source suitable substitutes and highlight greenwashing in industry.

Further information can be found on my University of Cardiff web page.

Eve Tarring


I did an BSc in chemistry at the University of Sheffield before moving to the University of Bristol to do a research masters in the organic geochemistry unit. My project involved looking at the anthropogenic impact of wastewater treatment on dissolved organic matter in freshwater ecosystems using High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry. In my spare time I am a keen baker, birdwatcher and gardener and spend as much time as possible outdoors.

PhD project: Assessing the risks to freshwater ecosystems from water-soluble polymers (WSPs.)

My project is based in the School of Chemistry at Cardiff University but I will also be working with the Schools of Engineering and Bioscience as well as working with GSK as an industrial partner. I was really attracted to the novelty of the project and the wider implications this study could have on the use of WSPs in everyday products; a relatively overlooked field until now.

Thilakshani Atugoda


I hold a BSc in Applied Sciences from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka and the Graduateship in Chemistry from Institute of Chemistry Ceylon, Sri Lanka. My research career commenced after obtaining M.Sc in Environmental Science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka with research expertise on contaminant adsorption on microplastics. Since then, I have been working on microplastics pollution, as a Research Assistant in Ecosphere Resilience Research Center, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka

PhD project: Microplastics and the water industry: studying source, transfer and fate within the microplastic cycle

More than 90% of microplastics in the waste waters is retained in the biosolids and the routinely application to land, may accumulate in the soil with unknown effects on soil properties and soil inhabiting organisms. This project will work collaboratively with South West Water, to determine whether the presence of microplastics in biosolids that are applied to land is likely to pose a significant risk to the ecosystem or whether they are likely to accumulate in the soil or move into aquatic system.

Imogen Poyntz-Wright


I have recently completed my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter, this summer (2021). During my studies I found my interests lie within the fields of ecotoxicology, marine biology, and ecology. Yet, my interests do span beyond biology, in fact I am a keen artist, drawing and painting in my free time. Along with this, I love exploring new places with an addiction to taking the most perfect photographs. 

PhD project: Assessing responses to chemical exposure in invertebrate and fish populations and biodiversity across diverse UK aquatic environments.

I will be identifying which populations of fish and invertebrate species are declining in the UK, determining the role pollution plays in their declines and identifying the most sensitive species to chemical pollution.


Imogen Bailes


I'm Imogen and grew up in Sunderland in the UK. I completed my undergraduate degree in Environmental Geoscience at Durham University, before going on to do an MSc by Research where I used nitrogen isotopes in seaweed to determine sources of nitrogen pollution around the North East coastline and estuaries. I've now moved to Lancaster to do my PhD with the ECORISC CDT. My research interests include environmental chemistry, pollution, and scientific policy. I have taken part in competitive dance for most of my life and love a good walk in the outdoors.

PhD project: Understanding exposure of wildlife to persistent chemicals in the UK and the Antarctic".

My project seeks to generate evidence for long-range transport and bioaccumulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) by looking for these chemicals in UK and Antarctic wildlife samples. This involves working with my partner organisations, Defra, Cefas and BAS, to identify those chemicals that require more data on their persistence, mobility and biomagnification to inform regulatory decision making; but that are also likely to be found in biota following long-range transport to one of the most remote regions of the planet. I'll conduct targeted analysis on a range of species in different trophic levels, and non-targeted analysis at the highest trophic level to identify new bioaccumulative chemicals.

Further information can be found on my University of Lancaster web page.

Lowenna B Jones


I completed my undergraduate degree in Conservation Biology and Ecology (BSc Hons) from the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus. Having lived and grown up in Cornwall, I decided to stay on at the University of Exeter to complete my Masters by Research (M by Res) in Biological Sciences where I began my career as an interdisciplinary researcher combining my passion for environmental issues with my love for sailing, assessing the methodologies, policies and solutions used to combat the issue of marine plastic pollution, across the globe. I have been extremely fortunate to live and work in some beautiful places throughout my research career so far, from sailing across the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean sampling for plastic to living on a remote island in the Maldives protecting endangered shark populations.My PhD now sees me move inland (and North) from the coasts of Cornwall to the Dales and Peaks of Yorkshire.

PhD project: Environmental Risk Assessment of Chemicals post-Brexit: Science, Policy and Regulation at the University of Sheffield.

The regulation of risk is a live topic of research across the globe, particularly within the European Union (EU) following the recent departure of the United Kingdom (UK) from the EU (ie Brexit). Brexit has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the future of both EU and UK environmental policy with concerns the UK could become a ‘dumping ground’ for toxic chemicals no longer able to be produced in the EU. With the UK now tasked by the development and roll out of its own chemical regulatory regime, it is a timely moment to assess approaches to environmental risk assessment (ERA) across the globe. Alongside my project partner Defra, this interdisciplinary research aims to better understand the risk toxic chemicals pose to the UK environment, asses the potential impacts of regulatory divergence between the EU and UK and identify the potential challenges, barriers and opportunities to a UK chemical strategy.

Further information can be found on my:

Ciara Sanchez Paredes


I studied biology at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (Peru), and my interest as a scientist is understanding how anthropogenic activities impact the ecology, ecotoxicology, behaviour, and conservation physiology of species. My experience involves being an academic affiliate for the Davis Rabosky Lab in the USA and an environmental consultant for mining and construction projects in Peru. My work experience motivated me to obtain my MSc in Environmental science at York and consequently pursue a PhD.

PhD project: How Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs) impact the individual fitness and the population dynamics of the common Kestrel (Falco tunninculus).

The UK population of the common kestrel has been declining since 1990. My project aims to investigate the relationship between temporal and spatial variation in SGARs usage in the UK and population trends of the common kestrel. In addition, I will be doing fieldwork on a nestbox breeding population of common kestrels to test hypotheses regarding the uptake of SGARs by individuals and their reproductive success and survival.

Isla Thorpe


I completed my BSc in Environmental Science (with a Year in Industry) at the University of York. My industry experience focused on assisting in facilitating an environmental monitoring programme.

PhD project: Risks of Medicines Used in Companion Animals to Urban Biodiversity.

Ecotoxicological risks of companion animal medicines have been insufficiently considered in existing regulatory risk assessments due to the assumption of negligible exposure. There is increasing concern regarding the active ingredients used within these products due to their extensive use and potential toxicity to non-target organisms. My project focuses on quantifying the potential risks that these companion animal medicines, in particular parasiticides, may pose to ecosystem health through a combination of monitoring, lab-based experiments and modelling.