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Call for Applications for PhD Fellowships – Xenobiotics and heavy metals in Ghana (Sheathe)

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Background

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in partnership with Aarhus University, Denmark will over the next 5 years conduct a major research project in the area of environmental analytical chemistry. The project has been awarded funding from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FFU) and is entitled Xenobiotic Substances and Heavy metals in the Environment – a Threat to Health, Ecosystems and Development (Sheathe).

The project addresses dispersal and effects of heavy metals and xenobiotic substances in the Ghanaian environment, primarily from rapidly increasing activities in the informal economic sectors such as artisanal mining (ASM) and management of waste electronic and electric equipment (WEEE).  The project combines measurement of background concentrations in soil, water and air across the country with measurements of high temporal and spatial resolution in intensive study areas with known pollution sources. The project includes high resolution data from drone-borne sensors and remote sensing. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to a more sustainable management of natural resources, both in the extraction of raw materials such as gold, and in the management of soil, water and air as natural resources by preventing and controlling pollution. The output will be used to assess existing and future effects on human health, ecosystems, and food production.  The social science component investigate access to information and knowledge in raising awareness, removing barriers for adaptation of better practices, and developing better risk handling strategies at individual and community level.   

The project is divided into 4 work packages (WP). WP 1 and 2 provide knowledge on status and trends in sources, dispersal and possible effects of heavy metals and xenobiotic substances on local- and wider geographic (country) scale. WP 3 investigates the effect of access to information in risk handling for individuals and at community level. WP 4 deals with data collection on heavy metals and xenobiotic substances (measurements and chemical analysis).

We are pleased to announce a call for applications for 7 PhD scholarships within the Sheathe project.  The aim of the scholarships is to support further education and training of local scholars in research and academic positions. 

Location

The PhD candidates will be enrolled as PhD fellows at KNUST, Kumasi and will enjoy a joint corroborative supervision between KNUST and Aarhus University. The PhD fellows will have the opportunity to take PhD level courses at both universities and 2-3 stays at Aarhus University for approximately 3 months duration each.

Description of PhD Scholarships

WP 1: Large (landscape/country/hemisphere) scale assessment of pollution patterns and trends

Requirements

  • Educational background and knowledge within Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Sciences, Pharmacy, Veterinary and Medical Sciences.
  • Experience with sample preparation techniques such as SPE and SPME, spectroscopic methods such as AAS, ICP-OES as well as chromatographic techniques such as HPLC-MS and GC-MS.

WP 2: Local scale assessment of pollution patterns and trends

Requirements

  • Educational background and knowledge within Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Statistics Modeling, Veterinary and Medical Sciences
  • Intense interest and proven experience in scientific exploration in the subject fields Biostatistics and Modelling. Knowledge in ecological modelling such as QSAR and QMRA will be an asset.

WP 3: Community based risk assessment

Requirements

  • Educational background and knowledge within Social Sciences and Sociology.
  • Intense interest and proven experience in data collection through structured interviews, focus group discussion and direct observation.
  • Hands-on knowledge of SPSS package is a must

WP 4: Data collection, measurements and chemical analysis

Requirements

  • Educational background and knowledge within Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Sciences, Pharmacy, Veterinary and Medical Sciences.
  • Experience with passive and active samplers, sample preparation techniques such as SPE and SPME, spectroscopic methods such as AAS, ICP-OES as well as chromatographic techniques such as HPLC-MS and GC-MS.

Requirement for ALL PhD fellowships:

  • Hold an MSc, MPhil, MPH, MBA or other equivalent master degree in relevant fields
  • Willingness to work in a team and a strong ambition to accomplish the research goals of the project
  • Creative personality
  • Good academic results/transcripts
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Good command of English in speaking and writing
  • PhD candidate from non-Anglophone countries are required to submit an internationally recognized Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language (TOEFL OR British Council, IELTS):
  • Good collaborative skills and preferably experience with project management
  • Ability to travel to Denmark for periods of 3-4 months for PhD course training and supervisory workshops
  • Perspectives on future use of PhD skills in Ghana in particular and Sub-Saharan Africa in general (teaching, research, practice)
  • Full time availability from April 2016 for a period of four years

Priority will be given to Ghanaian/West African Researchers. Residents from high-income countries are not eligible for consideration.

Responsibilities

The PhD fellows’ tasks will be to study and report on their selected research question within the context of this project by methods depending on the area of research. The interconnected sub-studies will require intensive interaction with the program leader, research collaborators, supervisors, and other PhD and MSc students in the program. The progress of the PhD fellows’ work will be evaluated in annual discussions.

It is expected that each of the PhD fellows will publish at least 2 papers in international peer reviewed journals.

The candidates will be offered a four-year scholarship tenable at KNUST, which is expected to result in a degree from KNUST.

Financial Matters

The PhD candidate will be provided with a stipend on monthly basis. Approved travel costs, costs for fieldwork, etc., will be reimbursed. The disbursement of scholarship funds will be connected to the successful delivery of research work products (deliverable) to be agreed upon between the project leader and the PhD fellow at the onset of the research work.

Contact and Application

Candidates should send their application letter indicating the Title of Fellowship they are applying for, curriculum vitae, copies of certificate and 2 letters of recommendation in soft copies (One pdf file) to: gdarko.sci@knust.edu.gh and copy tojlb@bios.au.dk and godfreddarko@gmail.com not later than 15th March, 2016.

More information on the project can be obtained from DR. GODFRED DARKO at gdarko.sci@knust.edu.gh or from PROF. JESPER LETH BAK at  jlb@bios.au.dk.

Please note that shortlisted candidates must attend a selection interview with an independent review panel which will take place in or near Kumasi, Ghana. The date of the interview will be communicated after shortlisting. The selection interview is mandatory to support the final selection of candidates.