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PhD Studentship in Water Infrastructure & Resilience (WIRe) CDT PhD Studentship: The future of wastewater-based epidemiology

Value of award

100% of tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £19,000. Also significant additional funding to cover research costs and local, national and international travel (conferences and exchanges).

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2021 for 4 years.

Application closing date

22 March 2021.


Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) has proven very useful for tracking COVID-19 case prevalence through the monitoring SARS-CoV-2 levels in sewage. The aim of this research is to explore optimal ways that WBE might be used to maximise public health benefit, looking beyond COVID-19 to identify wider opportunities that deliver impact in the UK and worldwide.

Indicative questions to be asked in this research include: 1) at what scale must you monitor in catchments; 2) how, what, and where do you sample in a non-intrusive, economic manner; 3) what operational data is most critical to interpret results and; 4) how best to report and contextualise WBE data to provide greatest value.

The work will include a horizon scan of existing and potential WBE applications. Subsequent research will focus on sampling and hydraulic modelling of targeted sewer networks with the aim of piloting a general framework for future WBE. The ideal candidate will have background in wastewater engineering or related applied science; skills and interest in biological and-or chemical methods; and numerical modelling or related skills.

This studentship is based at Newcastle University, with an extended placement at the University of Sheffield and regular involvement with industrial and government partners. WIRe offers technical and transferable skills training; international placements; and a generous training grant for professional development.


EPSRC, Northumbrian Water and Scottish Water.

Name of supervisor(s)

Professor David Graham (Newcastle) Professor Vanessa Speight (Sheffield), Andrew Moore (Northumbrian Water) & George Ponton (Scottish Water).

Eligibility Criteria

First or 2:1 Degree, and preferably a MSc in relevant subject.

The award is available to home and international applicants (including EU) WIRe CDT have a limited number of International awards available. Further information will be provided.

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

You will need to:

You should also send your covering letter and CV to Justine Easten at application stage.


Professor David Graham (academic queries) or (administrative queries).

Eligible Courses