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PhD Scholarships

Screening intakes for European eels


Funded PhD


3 years (full-time)

Application deadline:

17.00 on 12 December 2022

About this project

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship investigating the interaction between European eel, Anguilla anguilla, and physical screens, starting 30 January 2023.

The European eel is widely distributed throughout European estuarine and inland waters, but concern over the status of eel stocks is so great that the European Union has specific legislation (The EC Eel Regulation (1100/2007)) for their protection from human mediated activities including impingement and entrainment at water intakes. Water is frequently pumped from or into rivers to provide water for domestic supply, agriculture and industry as well as being controlled for flooding and hydropower generation. Eels can be drawn into water intakes, especially upstream (glass eel / elver) and downstream (silver) migrating eels. However, the extent of the problem is not fully understood and gaps in our knowledge prevent adequate, cost-effective remediation measures being identified.

The research will entail laboratory / flume-based experiments to investigate the behavioural interactions of eels with physical screens to identify ways to prevent impingement and entrainment of small eels (and maybe other species, e.g. juvenile lampreys) at fine-mesh aperture screens. Conversely, the PhD will employ field studies to investigate how to make weedscreens more passable for silver eels at fish-friendly pumping stations. The research will also extend to include use of physical screens to guide eels towards safe downstream passage routes. This studentship will quantify the hydrodynamic characteristics of intake screens using acoustic velocimetry and Computational Flow Dynamics (CFD) simulations

The successful student will be registered at University of Hull, supervised by academics in the Energy Environment Institute and the School of Natural Sciences. Collaborations will also be sought with subject experts at academic institutes elsewhere in the UK and around the world. The student will receive specialist training in state-of-the-art field, laboratory and advanced data analysis techniques and will be required to spend periods of time working at remote locations in the UK and potentially other countries. The knowledge arising from this research is anticipated to inform and revise policy, regulation or operational best practice for eels at water intakes at national, European and global levels. Our strong links with government and industry partners will ensure that the work will have immediately applicable outcomes and students gain industry-relevant skills and contacts.

For informal inquiries, please contact Dr Jon Bolland.

About the research cluster/group

REDEEM 2.0 research cluster: Research and Development of fish and Eel Entrainment Mitigation at pumping stations

This Environment Agency-funded research cluster will focus on understanding fish and eel behaviour to develop innovative measures to minimise entrainment and research effectiveness of existing and new technology. Specifically, the research will focus on understanding the spatial distribution of fish and eels in pumped catchments, measures to screen hazardous intakes, fish-friendly pumps and novel downstream bypass channels for minimising entrainment. The truly inter-disciplinary investigation will be performed at real-work intakes and in experimental flumes, and incorporate state-of-the-art acoustic telemetry (under Home Office Licence), multi-beam imaging sonar, eDNA and flow modelling techniques currently performed by researchers across the University of Hull, which will ensure we make major advances in the field and research quality will be maximised.

The size and scope of the cluster will also enable it to be agile and reactive to new developments and opportunities. The knowledge arising from this strategic, inter-disciplinary and international applied research investigation is anticipated to inform and revise guidance for mitigating fish and eel entrainment at pumping stations and water intakes at national, European and global levels.

How to apply

You will need to supply a personal statement when applying for this scholarship position. Find out more about writing a personal statement. Please also ensure you include the following information:

  1. What motivates you to pursue PhD study

  2. Why you are interested in this project

  3. How your skill set matches the requirements for your choice of project and/or any additional training you will need

  4. The wider significance of research in this area and potential future research directions for the project.

Apply online here.

Closing date for applications: 12 December 2022.

Postgraduate student reading in the Brynmor Jones Library
Postgraduate Rebecca Humphries & Georgia Sykes walking by HUBS Wharfe Building

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull

As a postgraduate researcher at Hull, you will be part of our ambition to be at the forefront of new developments in Social Sciences research. This is a hugely important area of research for us, so you will receive all the support you need to develop your talent, your research skills and your career.

You will be part of the ESRC White Rose community – a vibrant and growing collective of social science researchers. There will be opportunities to network with colleagues at the other WRDTP universities, as well as attending a range of training, conference and development activities run by the White Rose Consortium.


The successful applicant will receive a maintenance grant / stipend and fee waiver for three years, which covers the research period of the PhD. The maintenance grant for 22/23 is £17,668, which rises each year in line with the UKRI’s recommended stipend allowance, and there is an international fee waiver.

Entry requirements

Applicants should be highly motivated, dedicated and enthusiastic and have:

  • Applicants should have at least a 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as Biology or Environmental Sciences, Civil or Mechanical Engineering. It is anticipated that the successful applicant will have a 1st class undergraduate degree or Masters level qualification.
  • Previous experience of R, FLUENT, MATLAB and/or OpenFOAM would be an advantage.
  • Hold a current driving licence as the role requires field site visits.
  • The successful appointee will have a flexible approach to problem solving, possess good practical and time management skills.
  • Excellent writing and fluency in English is expected.
  • Candidates should be willing to work flexible hours in remote locations.
  • Prospective students are expected to pursue independent research and be able to interact and work effectively with colleagues as their independent projects will jointly contribute to cluster research goals.

For more details on our entry requirements please visit the postgraduate admissions webpage.

This scholarship is available for full-time study (only).

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree. More information.

International applicants

This opportunity comes with an international fee waiver.

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within three years and three months from the start of your PhD scholarship.

If you need to move into a fourth year (full time) to complete your thesis, you will not receive a tuition fee waiver or maintenance grant during this period.