Quantification of atmospheric particulate matter using dendrochemistry and its application to predicting long term public health outcomes


Quantification of atmospheric particulate matter using dendrochemistry and its application to predicting long term public health outcomes


Project Description


Dr Christina Manning (Royal Holloway University of London, Department of Earth Sciences) – Contact me

Dr Jennifer Cole (Royal Holloway University of London, Department of Earth Sciences)

Dr Alex Dickson (Royal Holloway University of London, Department of Earth Sciences)


Project background

Air pollution is one of the greatest environmental risks to health (WHO, 2022).  It is well established that increases in air pollution as a consequence of human population growth and industrialisation have had significant negative impacts on human health.  This study aims to better understand the spatial and temporal impact of land use changes and air pollution reduction measures on public health by utilising heavy metal records in trees.  These longer-term records will provide insights into the pollution wash out pathways and the timescales over which pollution reduction measures start to benefit public health.

Research methodology

1. Set up the analysis of trace elements in wood by LA-ICPMS and Pb isotopes by LA-MC-ICPMS.

2.  Analyse trees growing in locations which have a diverse range of current and past air pollution events.

3. Analyse the dendrochemical data alongside land use and planning records to see if changes in land use or air pollution reduction measures are reflected in the dendrochemical record.

4. Analyse the dendrochemical data alongside public health records to identify correlations between human health and air pollution events and to assess the recovery time of public health after land use changes and implementation of air pollution reduction measures.


The student will be trained in all in situ and wet geochemical techniques to be utilised in the project and appropriate data reduction methods.  They will be given opportunity to present their work at national and international conferences through out the duration of the project.

Person specification

We seek an applicant with a degree in Earth/Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, Geography or similar to undertake this exciting project.  The applicant should be interested in applying multidisciplinary approaches and, whilst there is no need to have previous geochemical experience, we seek an individual who is enthusiastic about acquiring experience of these techniques.


  • Cole, J, Farlow, A, Quilley, S, Zywert, K, Foster, A, Messina, J, Milner, A & Bartlett, H 2019, Planetary Health: Human Health in an Era of Global Environmental Change. vol. 1, 1 edn, CABI PUBLISHING, Wallingford, UK.
  • Cole, J 2019, The Anthropocene is official – but what does this mean for the future health of planet Earth?. CABI PUBLISHING, CABI website.
  • E Alterio, C Cocozza, G Chirici, A Rizzi, T Sitzia, 2020, Preserving air pollution forest archives accessible through dendrochemistry, Journal of Environmental Management, 264, 110462
  • Turney, CSM, et al., 2020, 'Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 117, no. 8, pp. 3996-4006. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1902469117

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC DTP and will start on 1st October 2023. The closing date for applications is 23:59 on 19th May 2023.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship, which covers fees, stipend (£18,622 p.a. for 2023/24) and research funding. Please note that all international awards have been made for our programme for 2023 so we will not be accepting applications from international candidates,
  • ARIES students benefit from bespoke graduate training and ARIES provides £2,500 to every student for access to external training, travel and conferences, on top of all Research Costs associated with the project. Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses.
  • ARIES is committed to equality, diversity, widening participation and inclusion in all areas of its operation. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation and transgender status. Academic qualifications are considered alongside non-academic experience, and our recruitment process considers potential with the same weighting as past experience.
  • All ARIES studentships may be undertaken on a part-time or full-time basis, visa requirements notwithstanding
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor. To apply for this Studentship follow the instructions at the bottom of the page or click the 'apply now' link.
  • ARIES is required by our funders to collect Equality and Diversity Information from all of our applicants. The information you provide will be used solely for monitoring and statistical purposes; it will remain confidential, and will be stored on the UEA sharepoint server. Data will not be shared with those involved in making decisions on the award of Studentships, and will have no influence on the success of your application. It will only be shared outside of this group in an anonymised and aggregated form. You will be ask to complete the form by the University to which you apply.

Applications are open

Apply now