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KESS Ph.D. Studentship: The microbiology and molecular biology of a chalybeate (iron-rich) spa water

The chalybeate spa at Trefriw is the source of one of the most iron-rich natural springs in Europe, and is marketed world-wide as a highly effective iron supplement. While the basis of the water origin is known (the microbially-accelerated oxidation of a large pyrite intrusion body located in the hillside above the spa) the finer details are unknown. Recent research has revealed the existence of novel and/or uncharacterised bacteria in the spa water, prior to its filtration. The roles of these microorganisms in the genesis and stability of the spa water, and how they impact the chemistry of the water, will be addressed in the proposed three year research project, based at Bangor University and making use of the of the Spa to carry out research. Results from the project will provide fundamental data about the geochemistry, microbiology (detection, isolation and characterisation of indigenous microflora) and molecular biology (DNA- and RNA-based techniques) using techniques and expertise developed at the Bangor laboratory. Research area: applied microbiology/molecular biology.

Biological Sciences at Bangor University is a well funded and equipped School with an excellent reputation for both research and teaching. The Bangor Acidophile Research Team has an international reputation as being at the cutting edge of innovative research in environmental biotechnology and applied microbiology in the field of extremophiles and mineral bioprocessing. Spatone (located in the small village of refriw, in the Snowdonia National Park) is the producer of the world’s highest iron-containing spawater, used to thousands of people world wide as a natural remedy for dietary iron deficiency. It is owned by Nelsons, a London-based, family-owned business, which is the UK’s largest manufacturer of natural healthcare products.

The studentship includes a maintenance grant of paid and additional allowances. A requirement of the studentship is a 30-day nonremunerated work placement per annum. More information on the studentship and application process can be found at
Qualifications and experience requirements for successful applicant: BSc (1st class or 2i) in microbiology, molecular biology or similar, plus post-graduate laboratory experience (preferably a Masters degree).

Potential applicants can visit the bart web site on to find out more about the research group.

How to apply
The first step in the application process will be to complete and submit an eligibility form which can be downloaded here. This form must be completed, signed and submitted to Katie Minton, Senior Clerical Officer, KESS, Room E:109, The Management Centre, College Road, Bangor, LL57 2DG. You will receive a response regarding your eligibility within 5 working days of receipt of your form.

The closing date for formal applications will be 30th April 2011 and short-listed applicants will be required to attend an interview, with an anticipated start date of no later than July 2011.

To be eligible to participate in the KESS programme, prospective students must be resident in the Convergence Area (West Wales and the Valleys) on application, and be able to work in the Convergence Area upon completion of the scholarship. The eligibility form is the first step in the application process and any applications which do not meet the above criteria will not be processed further.

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.


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