PhD Scholarship assessing the sources, fate and transport of Microplastics in Western Port catchments

Seeking an enthusiastic PhD candidate to undertake a project investigating the sources, fate and transport of microplastics in catchments of Westernport, Southeast Victoria.

Microplastics are a ubiquitous pollutant and to mitigate microplastic pollution in the environment a better understanding of the sources, fate and transportation from land to waterways and bays are needed. This project will investigate microplastic pollution in waters and sediments across the Westernport Catchment.

This research will focus on microplastics and their fate and transport in waterways across Westernport. The project will determine the principle types of microplastic present in Westernport waterways and the Bay and how their fate and transport may be linked to local and catchment scale features, surrounding land use, environmental variables and microplastic properties.

$32,000 per annum pro rata (full time study) for 3 years with possible extension to 3.5 years.

Candidates will be based at RMIT's Bundoora campus.

Applications are open now.

30 May 2022

One scholarship is available. 

To be eligible for this scholarship you must:

  • have a first class honours or equivalent in environmental science or a related discipline
  • meet RMIT University's entry requirements for Higher Degree by Research programs
  • meet RMIT University's entry requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy program
  • need to have an Australian or equivalent drivers licence allowing you to drive a vehicle in Victoria

Potential candidates should contact Dr Jackie Myers (jackie.myers@rmit.edu.au) and provide:

  • a cover letter (including research statement and reasons for applying for this scholarship and project)
  • a copy of electronic transcripts
  • a CV that incudes any publications/awards, experience relevant to the project and the contact details for 2 referees

Microplastics are a ubiquitous pollutant and to mitigate microplastic pollution in the environment a better understanding of the sources, fate and transportation from land to waterways and bays are needed. Although it is estimated that rivers deliver as much as 80% of the overall load of plastics to our oceans, microplastic pollution in the freshwater environment is relatively understudied. To date, research has focused on the occurrence, type and concentration of microplastic in rivers. In contrast, the fate and transport of microplastics in river systems is understudied. For example, we do not know what proportion of microplastics entering river systems are stored in sediment deposits or how long they reside there before they are transported elsewhere, including to the marine environment. This research will focus on microplastics and their fate and transport in waterways across Westernport.

The project will determine the principle types of microplastic present in Westernport waterways and the Bay and how their fate and transport may be linked to local and catchment scale features, surrounding land use, environmental variables and microplastic properties. The project will increase our understanding of the how rivers trap and store microplastic, over what timescales this occurs, and where. The research will inform where plastic is concentrated and deposited in river systems and thus guide where management actions will be most effective. 

Specifically, the aims are:

  1. To assess sources and types of MPs in waterways across Westernport;
  2. To investigate how environmental and catchment factors as well as MP properties influence MP fate and transport;
  3. Determine waterways posing greater risk in relation to transport of MPs to Westernport Bay. 

The project will be co-supervised by Professor Vincent Pettigrove (RMIT University) and Dr Rhys Coleman (Melbourne Water)

Dr Jackie Myers

jackie.myers@rmit.edu.au

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.