PhD Position Available: Exploring strategies to tackle marine plastics pollution

7 May 2020

PhD Project: Exploring strategies to tackle marine plastics pollution

Area: Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences
Salary (FTE): RTP Scholarship NON-BANDED ($28,092.00 - $28,092.00)
Work type: Full Time - Scholarship
Location: PACE, Woolloongabba, Queensland

Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences

Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences

The Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences (QAEHS) is a multidisciplinary research Centre committed to world-class research across the environment health sciences. These include environmental toxicology, epidemiology, microbiology, health risk assessment and communication, and state-of-the art monitoring and analytical technologies to quantify emerging environmental health risks.

QAEHS is funded by Queensland Health and The University of Queensland and works closely with Queensland Health to develop the Centre’s research directions. QAEHS pursues research excellence through competitively funded research, as well as government and industry consultancies, and has a successful track record in interdisciplinary collaborative research with international and other Australian institutions.

The project

Plastics pollution in our oceans is a wicked problem. Our current plastics economy continues to deliver large and increasing volumes of plastics waste into our environment, and the current exponential growth in global plastics production and consumption has been matched by a corresponding exponential increase in leakage of these plastics into our environment, with plastic pollution now being ubiquitous worldwide. While efforts are now underway to develop efficient and effective recycling systems to recapture and reuse the bulk of our petroleum derived plastics, ultimately we need to understand the drivers for our existing systems and identify the key intervention points where we can make a substantial difference to the system leakage into our marine environment most cost-effectively.

An opportunity exists for an outstanding PhD candidate to work on an innovative project that explores strategies for addressing this issue. This project will form part of a family of projects that seek to build a systematic framework for addressing the challenges of the new plastics economy, particularly plastic materials design, use, characterisation and quantitation and end-of-life management. The successful student would be part of a vibrant research group focusing on sustainability challenges.

The PhD candidate will play a key role in understanding mechanisms of polymer degradation and interaction with organic pollutants. We are offering an opportunity for an excellent PhD candidate to work with Dr Sarit Kaserzon (QAEHS) and Associate Professor Bronwyn Laycock (School of Chemical Engineering) on this innovative project that will explore strategies for tackling marine plastics pollution.

Selection criteria

The ideal candidate will have a Masters degree in Environmental Science, Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Physical Chemistry or similar background. The project will also be relevant to candidates who hold a 1st Class Honours or have significant industry experience.

To be eligible to apply, you must also meet the entry requirements for Higher Degrees by Research at UQ. Please visit the Graduate School's website.


The research team will provide guidance and support to the preferred candidate to apply for a UQ Scholarship (domestic or international) – see here for details. Applications for international scholarships close on 18 July 2020 and for domestic scholarships on 28 September 2020.

The 2020 Research Training Program (RTP) living allowance stipend rate is $28,092 per annum (indexed annually), which is tax-free for three years with two possible extensions of up to 6 months each in approved circumstances (conditions apply). International candidates will received a tuition fee waiver and overseas health cover as part of the package. The successful candidate will receive a scholarship top-up of $5,000 per annum (for three years) from QAEHS. QAEHS also offers an annual travel scholarship scheme that the candidate will be able to apply to for overseas and Australian conference travel.

The selected student should be available to commence candidature at the start of research quarter 1 2021 (January 2021).


For further information, please contact Dr Sarit Kaserzon at

How to apply

Please discuss your interest in this project and your prior research experience with Dr Sarit Kaserzon in the first instance. She will provide guidance on how to apply.