Health Inequalities and Emerging Environmental Contaminants - Places and People

About this project

The focus of this interdisciplinary project is to identify how emerging environmental contaminants impact human health. Exposure to environmental contaminants can impact upon the earliest stages of embryonic development in ways that may predispose the offspring to key health threats and perhaps increase susceptibility to subsequent environmental exposures. Later life exposures, for example to air pollutants, can have negative impacts on human health, ranging from a decreased quality of life caused by the exacerbation of respiratory illnesses such as asthma to early death resulting from an increased risk of cancer

Working as part of a dedicated team, we will explore, the impact of environmental contaminants on early human development, identifying the key molecular and cellular changes induced following exposures. The implications of the key molecular and cellular changes identified in the evolution of adult diseases of the lungs, female reproductive tract and prostate gland will be investigated. Transgenerational exposure in different countries will be modelled to help understand the long-term impact of environmental contaminants on human health. 

Health inequalities and emerging environmental contaminants - Places and People

Known environmental contaminants like air-pollution, heavy metals or pesticides are well documented to affect human health and their spatial/social health inequalities are evidenced. On the other hand, the relationship between emerging environmental contaminants (EECs) and human health is less well understood with EEC impacts varying depending on multiple variables. This studentship will explore the complexity in geo-spatial and socio-economic scales of EECs, and ultimately deliver stakeholder relevant outputs such as indices and policy recommendation in regards to EECs and their potential impact on human health. Special consideration will be given to cumulative risks through the life course.

In the first year the student will conduct a systematic review, including a data audit and building of a database for subsequent work. The review will in the first instance focus on EECs researched in the other cluster studentships (3D printer dust, microplastics, nanoparticles, estrogens), their global distribution, and effect on human health throughout the life course. Depending on the findings of the systematic review and the interest of the student subsequent work could be to a) develop UK, European or global indices which overlay EEC exposure and socioeconomic information, to help to identify human vulnerability to EECs on a spatial scale; b) develop an agent based model combining exposures across the life course, and compare health risks between socioeconomic groups and geographical areas or c) develop a framework on how to best research the impact of EECs on human health. 


You are strongly advised to contact a potential supervisor and to discuss your research proposal, well before you submit an application. Please refer to the Health research pages.

If you have any queries, please email Professor Jeanette Rotchell.

Next steps


To celebrate the University's research successes, the University of Hull is offering a full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship or International Fees Bursary.

Entry requirements

Applicants must have at least a 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant scientific area, together with relevant research experience, and should explain why they feel their experience is relevant when preparing their application. It is anticipated that the successful applicant will have a 1st class undergraduate degree and/or Masters level qualification. 

How to apply

Applications for scholarship consideration at the University of Hull should be made through the Hull York Medical School postgraduate application system.

Please select PhD in Medical Sciences with a start date of “2018 October, full time” and quote the specific project title you wish to apply for. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to first identify and contact a potential supervisor. 

Apply now

Application deadline: Monday 19 February


Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,553 in 2017/18) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.