Our students


Mary Clare Brown – Cardiff University

I obtained an MBiol in Biological Sciences in Cardiff University. I am now undertaking a PhD based in Cardiff University within the School of Biosciences. My project involves biomonitoring of anti-microbial resistance in UK freshwater environments using microbiological and genomic approaches. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are one of the greatest emerging challenges to healthcare and agriculture settings worldwide, and this project will help to determine the impact of antimicrobial resistance spillover from agricultural settings so that we can limit its spread and maintain clean water.

Biomonitoring of Antimicrobial Resistance in UK Freshwater Ecosystems: an Integrated Microbiological and Genomic Approach Lead supervisor: Dr Frank Hailer; Stakeholder: Defra & CEFAS


Franciszek Bydalek – University of Bath

Water is one of the most precious and important resources that humanity has to take care of. Yet, with new economies and nations falling into the trap of wild consumerism, the clean and available water becomes almost a luxurious commodity in many parts of the world. There are a number of strategies that can help to mitigate or even reverse this negative trend, and certainly implementation of low-cost/affordable, environmentally sound technologies such as constructed wetlands is one of them. I am environmental engineer by training, specializing in sustainable water and wastewater management and with few years of engineering and research experience in constructed wetlands. For my PhD at University of Bath, I will be working on microbial ecology and fate of pathogens in constructed polishing wetlands, thus adding a new, exciting microbiological perspective to my research work.

Microbial Ecology and Fate of Pathogens in Constructed Polishing Wetlands Lead supervisor: Dr Jannis Wenk; Stakeholder: Wessex Water


Rory Burford – University of Bristol

The high mountains of central Asia (collectively known as the “Third Pole Region”) are home to more than 60,000 glaciers and around 9,500 km³ of ice. These frozen reservoirs contain more than 1000 times as much freshwater as Loch Ness and supply all ten of Asia’s great rivers – reaching more than a quarter of the world’s population. At certain times of year, glacial melt is known to be a dominant input into these rivers: it can account for as much as 70% of the summertime flow of the Ganga. However, very little is known about the chemistry of this meltwater input or how it influences downstream ecosystems. In my PhD project, I aim to quantify the glacially-derived nutrients (e.g. nitrate) and contaminants (e.g. mercury) within rivers in the Third Pole Region, and to assess their impacts on biological activity. I will be working with an interdisciplinary team headed by Jemma Wadham (Bristol Glaciology Centre), building upon my interdisciplinary background in Natural Sciences (B.A., University of Cambridge) and Physical Geography (M.Sc.R., University of Bristol).

Determining the controls on bioavailable organic matter in understudied glacial catchments

Lead supervisor: Professor Jemma Wadham; Stakeholder: GCRF India, Edinburgh, and NOC


Toby Champneys – University of Bristol

Tilapia are a prominent group of aquaculture species that provide a valuable source of food for millions of people around the world. However, tilapia have successfully invaded every environment in which they are farmed, including highly biodiverse systems such as the freshwater habitats of Tanzania. Declines in native species following tilapia invasion have been documented, yet little is known about the impact of tilapia on native systems and the mechanisms that drive these impacts. Over the course of my PhD I hope to provide new insights into the effects of invasive tilapia in Tanzania, through the lens of  behavioural ecology. My experience in this field began during my BSc and MRes degrees from Swansea University and now continues as a member of the Ioannou Group at Bristol University. Here I am able to utilise the latest techniques in collective animal behaviour to assess the behavioural components of invasive species effects in both lab and field settings. Being part of the GW4 FRESH CDT allows me to draw on an excellent supervisory team led by Dr. Christos Ioannau, along with a host of cohort led training and networking opportunities. I post semi-regular updates of my research on twitter @ChampneysToby for anyone interested in freshwater fish ecology!

How Does Behaviour Underpin the Impact of Invasive Tilapia on Native Fish?   Lead supervisor: Dr Christos Ioannou; Stakeholder: GCRF Africa, Tamatamah 


Elliot Druce – University of Bristol

After a BSc in Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Nottingham and an MRes at Imperial College studying Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, I am now based at the University of Bristol studying for my PhD under the supervision of Prof. Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo. My project uses genomic approaches to investigate how nitrogen from human pollution (fertilisers, waste water treatment) impacts phytoplankton populations in freshwater ecosystems, and to study how these phytoplankton species incorporate this excess nitrogen into their metabolic pathways.

Nitrogen metabolism in phytoplankton under natural conditions and the presence of inorganic fertiliser and organic waste Lead supervisor: Dr Patricia Sanchez-Baracaldo; Stakeholder: Natural England


Jack Greenhalgh – University of Bristol

I am based at the University of Bristol within the faculty of Life Sciences. After completing an MSc in Aquatic Science at UCL I was awarded a GW4 FRESH CDT. During my PhD I aim to clarify our understanding of the distribution of crayfish taxa and crayfish plague in the UK using environmental DNA. Environmental DNA is rapidly increasing the speed at which we can detect invasive species thanks to recent advances in molecular ecology. Furthermore, a water sample is all that is required from the field. The results of this project will allow policy makers and consultants to predict changes in crayfish distribution and aid white-clawed crayfish conservation.

Crayfish conservation: using eDNA to detect endangered and invasive species Lead supervisor: Professor Gareth Jones; Stakeholder: Applied Genomics


Annalise Hooper – Cardiff University

My research at Cardiff University is focussed on identifying environmental triggers that induce Cyanobacterial production of Geosmin. Geosmin is a naturally occurring metabolite that imparts unpalatable earthy and musty flavours to drinking water, costing the UK water industry over £200 million per annum to treat. Current monitoring of Cyanobacterial Blooms only indicates a proxy for biomass, which doesn’t correlate with the Geosmin release. During my PhD I aim to establish a link between nutrient dynamics and Geosmin synthetase activity within drinking water reservoirs. Allowing a more pre-emptive model to be implemented to prevent future Geosmin problems.

Environmental triggers for Geosmin production in freshwater ecosystems Lead supervisor: Dr Rupert Perkins; Stakeholder: Welsh Water


Victoria Hussey – University of Bristol

Constructed wetlands are known to be an effective environmental engineering approach for phosphorus removal from wastewaters. Biogeochemical processes such as sedimentation and uptake by biota remove phosphorus from wastewaters, whilst nitrification and denitrification remove nitrogen pollution. What remains unknown is the impact of these biogeochemical processes on carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus species exported from constructed wetlands to adjacent freshwaters, and whether these wetland systems are generating emerging nutrient-based contaminants. In my PhD research, I hope to understand how biogeochemical processes control the bioavailability of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in constructed wetlands, and how these processes could be creating emerging risks to freshwaters. My research is focused on one of the first full-scale constructed wetland systems in the UK, built by Wessex Water to act as a tertiary treatment process in domestic wastewater recycling. I am working with an interdisciplinary team of supervisors, headed by Penny Johnes (Hydrology Research Group, University of Bristol), which builds upon my background in Geographical Sciences (BSc, University of Bristol) and Physical Geography (MScR, University of Bristol). Keep up-to-date with my research on Twitter: @victoriahussey1

Investigating Nutrient Cycling, Retention and Bioavailability of Effluents Discharged From Constructed Wetlands: Optimising Wetland Management to Reduce Emerging Risks to Freshwaters Lead supervisor: Professor Penny Johnes; Stakeholder: Wessex Water, BGS


Fiona Joyce – Cardiff University

I obtained a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Leeds in 2011, and have since worked as an Aquatic Ecotoxicologist for an environmental consultancy in Cambridge. Having been awarded a GW4 Fresh CDT studentship, I am now based within the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University. As a PhD student, my research project will be to investigate the importance of riparian woodland for increasing the resilience of stream ecosystems to floods and droughts. This is a multidisciplinary project involving analysis of invertebrate food webs and interpretation of historical data to predict future outcomes of wooded and non-wooded streams in the context of climate change. This aims to inform policy makers and guide land management practices to help protect freshwater ecosystems.

Does Riparian Woodland Increase the Resilience of Stream Ecosystems to Floods and Droughts? Lead supervisor: Dr Ian Vaughan; Stakeholder: Forest Research, Woodland Trust


Luke Lear – University of Exeter

I am based at the University of Exeter medical school, Cornwall campus, where I am embarking upon my PhD.  This looks at antimicrobial resistance and virulence in freshwater microbial populations, using Galleria as a model immune system. The aim is to understand what can cause antimicrobial resistance to spread through communities and workout the source of the resistance. My background is in evolutionary ecology, with a strong emphasis on biological invasions.

Combining a Novel Phenotypic Virulence Screen with Genomic Approaches to Uncover Bacterial Acquisition of Multi-drug Resistance and Virulence in Aquatic Environments   Lead supervisor: Dr Michiel Vos; Stakeholder: Environment Agency


Josh Rainbow – University of Bath

I have completed an MSc in Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, with a focus on biosensor development for disease diagnostics and monitoring. Before and during my studies at the University of Bath I have volunteered alongside PhD and postdoc students in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. During this time, I have helped develop a number of diagnostic devices for the purposes of DNA detection. My PhD project looks at the detection of DNA from several pathogens commonly found in fresh water sources. To do this I will be developing a multiplexed biosensing device to detect several associated DNA sequences within a single sample.

Integrated Biosensing Platform for Waterborne Pathogen Detection: Improving Public Health Lead supervisor: Dr Pedro Estrela; Stakeholder: Public Health England


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