A global model of new contaminants in river systems. (2017)

Continental-scale modelling of water quality is a new branch of science which aims to provide a continental-scale overview of water pollution in rivers and the cause of this pollution. It is used to identify hot spot areas of rapid changes in river quality and how these changes are linked to global issues such as food security, the conservation of biodiversity, and climate change.

Although continental-scale models cover "conventional pollutants" such as bacteria and decomposable wastes, they do not yet include pharmaceutical residues and other "new contaminants". The presence in river water of pharmaceutical residues, including antibiotics, is of concern because it can contribute to the build-up of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the aquatic environment. In addition, pharmaceutical residues and other chemicals can disrupt the endocrine systems of people that ingest river water, either as drinking water supply, or for bathing, washing clothes, and other household purposes.

The main objectives of this PhD project are to extend an existing continental-scale water quality model, "WorldQual" to include key pharmaceutical chemical residues, and to use the extended model to estimate the current levels of these residues in world river systems.

The project will involve three main steps:

Developing and implementing a methodology for computing the wastewater loadings of key pharmaceutical residues on a country and grid-cell basis.

Implementing changes in the existing WorldQual model to simulate the river concentrations of pharmaceutical residues.

Validating the new model of river pharmaceutical residues.

To accomplish these tasks the PhD student will work closely with the his/her Supervisor at the University of Sussex and the WorldQual modelling team at the University of Kassel in Germany.

Type of award

Postgraduate research award.


HEU fee waiver and RCUK stipend equivalents for 3.5 years.


For this PhD studentship Sussex University is looking for a Masters' graduate in in-formatics, computer science, geostatistics, or other discipline concerned with computa-tional science.

A strong interest in applying computational science to critical environ-mental problems is required, but prior experience in computer modelling is desired but not required.

Non UK applicants will also need to demonstrate IELTS qualification with 6.5 overall and not less than 6.0 in each section (or equivalent.)

Please note that applications are welcome from non-UK applicants on the understanding that the fee waiver is set at Home/EU rates only.

Only full time students will be accepted.


15 October 2017 23:59 (GMT)

How to apply

Apply for PhD in Geography, September 2017 entry via our online system:


Please make it clear that you are applying for the RIVER SYSTEMS PhD.

Mention name of supervisor in "suggested supervisor" section. In funding mention sponsored or seeking funding. In Award details mention Sussex Sustainability Research Programme funded studentship.

Include brief statement of interest (up to 2 pages) plus CV/resume, two academic references, UG/PG transcripts and IELTS/TOEFL as appropriate.

Only full time applicants will be considered. We reserve the right to reject incomplete applications.


Further information about the work of the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme can be found from:


Contact us

Please contact Prof. Joseph Alcamo for further details of this project: joseph.alcamo@sussex.ac.uk

For guidance on the application process itself please contact: globalresearch@sussex.ac.uk


The deadline for applications is 15th September 2017. Shortlisted applicants will be informed as soon as possible after that date and may be required to undertake an interview (either in person or via SKYPE.)


At level(s):
PG (research)

Application deadline:
15 October 2017 23:59 (GMT)
the deadline has now expired