Biodegradation of organic pollutants in groundwater impacted by landfill leachate

KU Leuven
May 08 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

A PhD position is open at the Division of Soil and Water Management on the biodegradation of organic pollutants in groundwater impacted by landfill leachates. The PhD is performed within the framework of the RESPONSE research project supported by the Belgian Science Policy Office, in a collaboration between the Division of Soil and Water Management KULeuven (Prof. Dirk Springael/Prof. Erik Smolders) and research groups from SCK-CEN, VUB, RBINS and UCL. RESPONSE is an interdisciplinary project involving specialists in hydrological and solute transport modelling, geochemistry, geography, geology and microbiology and aims at improving the use of coupled reactive transport models to simulate the fate of inorganic and organic contaminants in aquifers impacted by leachates of landfills.

Interested candidates can apply on line or send their application to Prof. Dirk Springael (Tel: ++ 32 16 32 16 04; e-mail: preferentially by e-mail before May 31, 2017. The application must contain (1) a curriculum vitae, (2) publications record and study results, (3) a motivation letter, and (4) contact details of 2 persons for references. Research topics within the Division of Soil and Water Management encompass risk-analysis studies of heavy metals in the environment, soil mapping and land-use, modeling transport processes of water and solutes (nutrients - contaminants) in soils, environmental microbiology, expert systems for efficient crop water use, long-term trends in tropical soil fertility and soil chemistry and speciation of metals and phosphorous species in soil and water.

The successful candidate will study the role of uncharacterized reactive dissolved organic matter in landfill leachate in demarcating the redox zonation in contaminant plumes originating from landfills and in determining the processes in biodegradation of recalcitrant toxic organic compounds (like pesticides and BTEX) in the plume. The study will involve laboratory and field experiments and will use techniques as batch biodegradation assays, in situ microcosm studies, molecular ecology methods like 16S rRNA gene microbial community next generation sequencing and chemical analytical techniques like compound specific stable isotope analysis as well as basic reactive transport modeling.

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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