Vacancies within the OGU

Applications are invited for the following PhD opportunities:

Investigating the social drivers of passage tomb construction via organic residue analysis and compound-specific radiocarbon dating

PhD Studentship (Irish Research Council Laureate Project Scholar) with the University of Bristol and University College Dublin

Organic residue analysis of absorbed lipids in pottery vessels provides a powerful means determining animal exploitation and subsistence regimes, the success of which rests on the capacity of the porous fabric of unglazed pottery to absorb and preserve lipid residues of the animal and plant products processed therein. In the absence of animal bone and herd profile data, biomolecular and isotope analyses can be used to infer various aspects of animal exploitation, notably the extent of meat versus dairy product processing by prehistoric communities. Additionally, insights can be gained into the importance of hunted animals, such as fish, crustacea and molluscs, in the prehistoric human diet.

This studentship offers an exciting opportunity to carry out interdisciplinary archaeological chemistry research at the University of Bristol in collaboration with University College Dublin. The studentship is funded as part of the Irish Research Council Consolidator Laureate Grant to Dr Jessica Smyth (University College Dublin) for the ‘Passage Tomb People’ project. The student will work as part of a team aiming to identify the social drivers of passage tomb construction in the 4th millennium BC, focussing on the archaeology of three key zones – Ireland, North Wales and Orkney. Erected several centuries after the arrival of farming in each region, these tombs may be responses to economic stress or, equally, the result of surplus and increasing social competition. The overarching aim of this PhD studentship is to probe the connections between monument construction and changes in farming practice, diet and environment, testing whether similar factors triggered similar behaviours in each area. This will be undertaken via organic residue analysis of absorbed lipids in archaeological potsherds and radiocarbon dating. Fatty acid components of organic residues will also be used for radiocarbon dating using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). These data will be complemented by animal and human bone collagen, apatite stable isotope data, and radiocarbon dates determined as part of the project.

As an Irish Research Council Laureate Project Scholar, the student will become a member of a vibrant, interdisciplinary research group at the Organic Geochemistry Unit, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, supervised by Professor Richard Evershed FRS and Dr Jessica Smyth, University, College Dublin. As with all postgraduate students enrolled at the University of Bristol the student will be supported by the Bristol Doctoral College. The College supports students in a wide variety of ways at all stages of their professional and personal development during their studies.

The successful student will receive a stipend of £15,009 p.a. for 3.5 years. Tuition fees are also covered by the award.

Candidates should possess a degree in a relevant subject area, such as a 2:1 or higher in chemistry, archaeology or a related discipline aligned to the studentship.

Potential applicants should apply through the University of Bristol’s online postgraduate study application portal: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/

Informal enquiries to Professor Richard Evershed (r.p.evershed@bristol.ac.uk) or Dr Jessica Smyth (jessica.smyth@ucd.ie).

Closing date: 10th May 2019.

 

New research on the history and technology of materials in paintings and other cultural heritage artefacts using advanced mass spectrometry techniques

AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral PhD Studentship with the University of Bristol and the National Gallery

The scholarly study of paintings and other artworks involves research into an artist's creative processes, the nature of the materials and techniques used and the current condition of objects resulting from natural deterioration. Such studies benefit enormously from chemical analysis, wherein small samples of paint are physically removed from artefacts in order that the chemistry can be assessed in relation to the aforementioned factors. The organic components are of particular interest and can include a wide range of natural products, such as: oils, waxes, resins and proteins, all of which have the potential to profoundly influence the appearance of a work, its current condition and the planning of conservation treatments. These organic materials can be original components, such as paint constituents (binder, colorant or other additives) or later additions (e.g. repairs or retouchings, varnishes or other surface coatings). The paint samples taken from valuable works of art are typically very small and limited in number, so it is essential to extract as much information as possible. The chemical analysis of organic components is challenging for a number of reasons: (i) The complexity of the materials themselves, which often necessitates the detection of characteristic 'marker components' to identify the material (or obtain precise source or species information or the exact methods of production); (ii) The organic material(s) of interest will generally be quite minor components of the overall paint sample, and (iii) The heterogeneous nature of the samples and age of the artefact, which can often lead to the alteration of the organic materials via complex degradation processes. Hence, to obtain the maximum amount of chemical information from the minimum amount of paint it is important to use highly sensitive & specific analytical techniques.  

The advertised studentship offers the successful candidate the opportunity to help answer both art historical and conservation-related questions using state-of-the-art mass spectrometry (MS) approaches. High resolution mass spectrometry using either Orbitrap MS or Q-TOFMS instruments offers substantial advantages over the current instrumentation typically used by heritage scientists. The studentship brings together researchers from the University of Bristol and the National Gallery and will use these new technologies to explore question relating to: (i) The detection of specific organic materials; (ii)The identification of the biological (or geological) source of organic materials; (iii)The status of organic materials (whether original additives to the paint or contaminants from a later conservation intervention). Achieving this will involve refining analytical protocols based on  advanced instrumentation using reference samples selected from the extensive collection of natural products held within the National Gallery scientific department. The analytical protocols developed will then be applied to real problems within the cultural heritage sector using authentic case studies, selected from on-going projects in the art-historical study or conservation of paintings from the National Gallery collection.

As with all postgraduate students enrolled at the University of Bristol the student will be supported by the Bristol Doctoral College. The College supports students in a wide variety of ways at all stages of their professional and personal development during their studies.

The successful student will receive a stipend of £15,009 p.a. plus £550 additional payment for Collaborative Doctoral Students. Tuition fees are also covered by the award. The student will receive additional support towards further research expenses from The National Gallery over the course of the research studentship.

Candidates should possess a degree in a relevant subject area, such as a 2:1 or higher in chemistry, or a related discipline aligned to the studentship. Students must also meet the eligibility requirements of the UK Research Council for graduate students.

Potential applicants should apply through the University of Bristol’s online postgraduate study application portal: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/

Informal enquiries should be directed to:

Professor Richard Evershed: Email: r.p.evershed@bristol.ac.uk;  Telephone: 0117 9287671 or Dr David Peggie: Email: david.peggie@ng-london.org.uk; Telephone: Tel: 020 7747 2825

Closing date: 10th May 2019.

 

Investigating the routing of Hydrogen from water and feed to ruminant tissues

PhD Studentship (Royal Society) with the University of Bristol and Rothamsted Research

This fully-funded 4-year PhD studentship is a unique opportunity to carry out interdisciplinary research at the University of Bristol. This studentship is funded by a Royal Society grant to enhance Dr Mélanie Roffet-Salque’s Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship.

Although the expression of the soil water stable isotope signal in plants has been studied in detail, surprisingly few studies have investigated the relationships between the hydrogen (H) signals of plants and higher animals. No systematic study of the relationships between water, feed and animal tissue H signals have been carried out at a molecular level on ruminants or any other mammals.

The overarching aim of this PhD studentship is to gain fundamental insights in the routing of H from feed and drinking water to ruminant tissues at the molecular level. An isotopic labelling experiment will be carried out on ruminants using deuterium-labelled water as a tracer and the composition of lipids determined using gas chromatography-thermal conversion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC-TC-IRMS). This feeding experiment will be carried out in collaboration with the North Wyke Farm Platform. This novel approach will be complemented by the study of tissues from ruminants from pre-existing herds from the World University Network (WUN) Global Farm Platform.

The study of modern systems will change our understanding of water use in biochemistry and animal energetics, provide information about animal adaptation to warmer climate. This study will enable the calibration of a novel proxy for the reconstruction of site-based palaeoclimate records using animal fats preserved in archaeological pottery vessels.

You will become a member of the Organic Geochemistry Unit at the University of Bristol and work in close collaboration with the Bristol Veterinary School and Rothamsted Research at North Wyke (which includes the BBSRC North Wyke Farm Platform National Capability). You will have a supervisory team that will include researchers from both Schools at the University of Bristol. 

Please make an online application for this project using the postgraduate application system http://www.bris.ac.uk/pg-howtoapply. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. 

Candidate requirements: Candidates should possess a degree in a relevant subject area, such as a 2:1 or higher in animal science, chemistry or a related discipline aligned to the studentship. 

 We encourage you to make an informal enquiry to Dr Mélanie Roffet-Salque (melanie.salque@bristol.ac.uk) to discuss the project.

Closing date: 21th April 2019.

 

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