PhD fellowship "la Caixa INPHINIT" in dispersion and impacts of micro-plastics in the tropical and temperate oceans

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    Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
    Natural sciences
    First Stage Researcher (R1) (Up to the point of PhD)




Group Leader: 

Prof. Patrizia Ziveri

Research Project / Research Group Description

Recently the acceleration of plastic pollution has increased the need to develop novel collaborative tools for synergistic problems affecting coastal and oceanic ecosystems. One of the main hurdles is the lack of standardized, comparable and integrated information on micro-plastic pollution. The PhD project will contribute to the funded i-plastic collaborative project (https://www.jpi-oceans.eu/i-plastic) aiming to assess the dispersion and impacts of micro- and nano-plastics in marine coastal settings from tropical and temperate regions. It will quantify the seasonal transport and dispersion in three selected estuaries (hotspots of plastic sources) and adjacent coastal waters and shorelines under distinct flow and climate regimes (i.e., tropical and temperate systems). In-situ monitoring will be performed in the selected system of the eastern and western Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. The impacts on distinct commercially valuable species (as part of the human diet) from the target regions will be addressed through in-situ observations and laboratory experiments. New approaches will be implemented to detect and characterize nanoplastics in environmental matrices (i.e.: water, short-term sediment trap, sediment and biota) and ascertain processes of macroplastic fragmentation. Finally, the data generated during the i-plastic project will be used to feed regional models for the dispersion of micro-plastics, which in turn will be used to elaborate a model of their dispersion at the Atlantic scale. In this context, the i-plastic project will provide missing knowledge concerning the fate of plastics in the ocean and the effects of smaller plastics on the ecosystems of different areas worldwide, by making projections to understand the impacts and dispersion of micro and nano-plastics in the next decades of the Anthropocene.


Job position description

This project is focusing on specific sites in the Mediterranean Sea, NE Atlantic and Tropical western Atlantic. In our research group, a main study area will be the Mediterranean that has a very high concentration of plastic debris due to its peculiar circulation with limited outflow of surface waters, coastline population density and intensive fishing, shipping, touristic and industrial activities.

The specific strategy of this PhD project includes several key aspects such as determine and characterize the state-of-the-art of the microplastic pollution in target regions considering both continental and oceanic areas; assess the concentrations and impacts of airborne microplastics close to the selected coastal systems; assess the impact of microplastic on target species and food web; explore the mecchanisms of micropalstic export and removal in experimental and natural settings. The research will be carried out at the Institute of Environmental Study and Technology (ICTA) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) within the research groups ‘Marine and Environmental Biogeosciences’. ICTA-UAB specific laboratory facilities (e.g. microplastic clean lab.) will be available for this project.

What is funded

Salary is €34.800 gross, plus €3.564 per year for additional costs (conferences, courses, etc.). An additional prize of €7.500 is paid upon completion of the PhD.


3 years


The selection process is very competitive and candidates should have an excellent academic record.

The candidate will apply through “la Caixa” foundation. Deadline 4 February 2021 at 2 pm (Central European Time - CET).



Eligible candidates must have resided or carried out their main activity in Spain for less than 12 months in the last 3 years, have a B2 English degree, and have a higher education degree that gives access to doctoral studies.


The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) of the Autonomous University of Barcelona is a research centre accredited with the Spanish Seal of Excellence María de Maeztu in 2020, the perfect place to carry out your PhD project through an INPhINIT Incoming fellowship.

For more information, please contact Ms Silvia Martínez (silvia.martinez.sinibaldi AT uab.cat).



The responsibility for the funding offers published on this website, including the funding description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.