PhD Scholarship in Environmental Science Focusing on Pfass in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

A fully-funded PhD fellowship in environmental sciences is available at Stockholm University. The funding allows successful candidate to work for four years. Eligible candidates should submit the applications before April 23, 2019.

The Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry (ACES) is one of the biggest departments at the Faculty of Science. The department is divided into five units with more than 200 researchers, teachers, doctoral students and technical/administrative staff. Research and teaching focuses on Contaminant Chemistry, Exposure & Effects, Atmospheric Science, Biogeochemistry and Analytical Chemistry. As an employee at ACES you will be part of a dynamic environment with research in leading research areas and with a strong international profile.

Research in the Contaminant Chemistry Unit surrounds the occurrence of pollutants in the environment. Areas of particular focus include the discovery of new contaminants, understanding the physical, chemical, and biological pathways that contaminants follow, and the development of novel tools and techniques. We strive to synthesize our scientific understanding about the sources, transport, transformation, bioaccumulation and pharmacokinetics of environmental contaminants into mathematical models that inspire new scientific hypotheses, and support environmental decision-making.

Project description

The position will be associated with the Swedish Research Council Formas-funded project Are cosmetics and personal care products a significant source of human and environmental exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)? Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a diverse class of >3000 anthropogenic chemicals which are concerning due to their occurrence in humans and the environment and links to adverse health effects. One of the lesser known uses for PFASs is in cosmetics and personal care products (CPCPs) which come into contact with the skin, such as shampoos, powders, sunblocks, etc. The identity and concentrations of PFASs in these products, their potential for dermal uptake, and importance relative to other PFAS sources, is unclear. In this project we will identify and quantify PFASs in CPCPs on the Swedish Market and, using in vitro experiments, evaluate their potential to transform and be absorbed through the skin. Results from these experiments, together with CPCP sales and usage data will be used to determine whether CPCPs represent a significant source of PFAS exposure to both humans and the environment. Partners on this project include Prof. Stuart Harrad and Dr. Mohamed Abdallah (University of Birmingham, UK), Dr. Robin Vestergren (IVL), Prof. Anders Glynn (SLU), and Dr. Kristina Hellstrm (Naturskyddsforeningen). Primary supervision will be provided by Assoc. Prof. Jonathan Benskin (ACES-SU). In addition to working collaboratively within this team, the student will spend 1 year working on in vitro skin metabolism and uptake experiments at the University of Birmingham.

Qualification requirements

To meet the general entry requirements, the applicant must have completed a second-cycle degree, completed courses equivalent to at least 240 higher education credits, of which 60 credits must be in the second cycle, or have otherwise acquired equivalent knowledge in Sweden or elsewhere. In order to meet the specific entry requirements, for doctoral studies in Environmental Science, at least 45 of the credits at the second cycle must be in Chemistry including a 30 hp/HEC thesis project. A university degree in analytical or environmental chemistry, or a related field is desirable. Experience in mass spectrometry-based trace analysis of organic molecules, in particular PFASs, would be an asset. Prior experience with high resolution mass spectrometry and/or pharmacokinetic uptake and metabolism studies would be useful but is not mandatory. The applicant should also have 30 hp/HEC in other natural science subjects different from the major. A very good command of oral and written English is required.

The qualification requirements must be met by the deadline for applications.


The selection among the eligible candidates will be based on their ability to successfully pursue the research education. Special emphasis is put on the applicant's knowledge and skills within the subject area, ability to express her/himself verbally and in writing, analytical aptitude, creativity, initiative and independence, and a capacity for working together with others. The evaluation will be made based on the relevance of past education and experience, grades from previous university courses (in particular at the advanced level), the quality and ambition of the independent project work, references, a cover letter motivating the candidate's interest, and interviews. Short-listed candidates may be asked to provide a short writing sample in English.

Admission Regulations for Doctoral Studies at Stockholm University are available at: and regulations.

Only a person who will be or has already been admitted to a third-cycle programme may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. The term of the initial contract may not exceed one year. The employment may be extended for a maximum of two years at a time. However, the total period of employment may not exceed the equivalent of four years of full-time study.

Doctoral students should primarily devote themselves to their own education, but may engage in teaching, research, and administration corresponding to a maximum of 20 % of a full-time position.

Please note that admission decisions cannot be appealed.

Stockholm University strives to be a workplace free from discrimination and with equal opportunities for all.


For more information, please contact Associate Professor Jonathan Benskin, telephone +46 76426 54 90, Application

Apply for the PhD student position at Stockholm University’s recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. Please include the following information with your application

and, in addition, please include the following documents


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