Postgraduate Opportunities

Postgraduate Study Opportunities for 2020/21


Opportunities in ECERA Group (4 positions)

Call for Research Applications: MSc and PhD Studies 2021/22 AY

The Emerging Contaminants Ecological and Risk Assessment (ECERA) Research Group, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Pretoria, invites applications for Master’s and PhD degree positions. ECERA group examines the ecological impacts of different classes of emerging contaminants (ECs) in the ecosystems. To effectively address these challenges, the group has adopted a multidisciplinary research in character. Thus, ECERA hosts postgraduates from highly variant training backgrounds including engineering, physical, mathematical, and environmental sciences, among others. Among the broad areas of research includes fate (behaviour and transformation), toxicity, and likely potential risks of ECs as individual chemicals and owing to interactions co-existence with other pollutants in the ecosystems. Among ECs of focus are, but not limited to engineered nanomaterials (ENMs), pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) including antiretrovirals (ARVs) where the later have increased dramatically in many environmental systems in the Sub Saharan Africa, and South Africa in particular. The group extensively undertakes both fundamental and applied research using experimental and modelling techniques.
Examples of projects includes:

Project 1 Experimental-Based Research: 

To generate data on the interactions of different classes of ARVs and ENMs in freshwater-like media to aquatic taxa e.g., bacteria, algae and daphnids as model organisms to establish likely physiological to molecular level toxicological effects using standard tests to specialized ones such as genomics, proteomics, etc., and attendant implications thereof to ecological systems. Of focus effects are for individual and respective mixtures including attempts to elucidate underlying mechanisms for the observed toxicological outcomes. In addition, underpinning transformations processes of the ECs will be investigated to improve understanding on the observed outcomes, and in turn, derive approaches essential for their exposure characterization in pursuit to undertake holistic risk assessment. 

Project 2 Modelling-Based Research: 

Seeks to develop algorithms that can aid to elucidate the fate of ENPs and ECs in freshwater like systems by highlighting complex co-influence of inherent physicochemical of ENPs and exposure media water chemistry. This will entail extensive use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and statistical techniques. Secondly, understanding the pollutants stocks in the environmental compartments is central to sound decision- and policy-making. Thus, material flow analysis among other techniques will be employed to map release, flows, and environmental concentration of ECs between different natural (soils, surface water, etc.)  and technical systems (e.g. wastewater treatment plants). Studies will be done in wastewater, soils and freshwater systems using both stochastic and probability approaches. 

Applicants with Honours and Masters degrees in Molecular Biology/Biochemistry, Mathematics, Environmental Science, Statistics, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Engineering (or a closely related field) from recognized universities are invited to apply. South African citizens will be considered for partial to full bursaries based on need, qualifications (grades), and clarity of the motivation (alignment to the program needs). We look forward to welcome in ECERA brilliant, innovative, and inquisitive minds with sharpened focus to address the planetary challenge associated with chemical pollution. This is by way of undertaking targeted research aimed towards achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) (e.g. to safeguard ecological integrity and human health). Suitable candidates should send their CV, certified academic record, details of at least two contactable referees (email and phone number), and letter of motivation (max. 500 words) by October 16, 2020 to Ndeke Musee ([email protected]). The letter should clearly indicate how your training background fits in one of the project of choice, and the suitability of your candidature.

All positions are solely full-time without exceptions.


Opportunities in Institute of Applied Materials

Link to the IAM website

There are currently vacant postgraduate research opportunities available in our group.  For more information on current projects with bursary opportunities in the Institute and sub-groups, click here.  Please contact the group leader for more information.


Carbon materials and Product design group:

2 Sponsored Positions.
Qualifying students can enroll for a Masters or PhD in the fields of Carbon Materials, Pyrotechnics, Polymer Science and Product Design.
For more details, please contact Prof WW Focke.

Polymer materials group:

1 Sponsored Position.
Qualifying students can enroll for a Masters or PhD in the fields of Polymer Material Science, Bio and Nano Materials Development and Polymer Additives Technology
For more details, please contact Prof WW Focke.


Layered Double Hydroxides group:

1 Sponsored Position.
Qualifying students can enroll for a PhD in the fields of Polymer Material Science, Nano Materials Development, Polymer Additives Technology and Heterogeneous Catalysts. Research focus will be on Layered Double Hydroxide synthesis, modification and application.

Post Doc positions are also available.
For more details, please contact Prof Johan Labuschagne.

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