City scape

PhD Studentship

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for a full-time 4-year funded PhD studentship for a Structured PhD in Bacteriology on the project “Public health Impact of Exposure to antimicrobial Resistance in coastal waters (PIER)”. This position is part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded project of the same name, which is scheduled to run from April 2019 to April 2023. The successful candidate will undergo training in microbiology, epidemiology and research methods and complete a dissertation on the public health impact of antimicrobial resistant organisms in the coastal environment.

The PhD candidate will be based in the Discipline of Bacteriology, Clinical Science Institute which is located on the NUIG campus at University Hospital Galway. The supervisors of the project are Dr Dearbhaile Morris 

( ) and Dr Liam Burke ( ) at NUI Galway. 

The Structured Doctor of Philosophy in Bacteriology (PhD) programme is a four year (full-time) postgraduate research degree that combines a PhD thesis with taught academic components and the development of a range of transferable skills.  Every

PhD student must complete 30 ECTS of such training during their PhD programme. Students select modules in consultation with their supervisors.

The two main types of modules are:

Project Description:

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is recognised internationally as one of the greatest threats to humanity. Antimicrobial resistant organisms (AROs) and antibiotic residues in livestock, human and industrial waste streams are released in great quantities to the coastal environment. However, it remains poorly understood as to what impact human exposure to AMR in the aquatic environment has on public health and the spread of AMR. The PIER project will explore the health and wellbeing impacts associated with AMR contamination of coastal waters. We will investigate if coastal water users are at a higher risk for colonisation and infection with AROs and if this risk can be reduced by wastewater treatment. Studies have shown that access to coastal waters for recreation and relaxation is important for wellbeing and quality of life. Key stakeholder interviews will enable exploration of the barriers and enablers to using the coastal environment resulting in a ‘systems map’ which highlights leverage points whereby long, medium and short term change interventions can be developed.

 Role of the PhD candidate:

 During the PhD, the candidate will:

  • Carry out a systematic literature review to identify the risk of colonisation and infection with AROs.
  • Work within a multidisciplinary team of researchers at NUIG to engage and recruit water users and non-water users as study participants and collect qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Screen faecal samples from study participants for the presence of AROs.
  • Analyse the collected data using statistical methods to investigate the relative risk of gut colonisation with AROs to coastal water users.
  • Examine the persistence of gut colonisation with AROs in coastal water users and matched controls over time.
  • Perform whole genome sequencing on resistant organisms and compare them to the sequences of human clinical isolates collected throughout Ireland (available at the National Reference Laboratory, UHG) and from other environmental sources as part of the ongoing “Antimicrobial Resistance in the Environment – AREST” project.
  • Participate in public outreach to publicise the study and disseminate the results, including attendance at public events, publishing of web articles and social media posts.
  • Qualifications/Skills required:

    Essential Requirements:

    • Contribute to the regular project progress reports for the EPA.
    • Present the results of the research at national and international scientific conferences.
    • Publish the results of the research in highly regarded scientific journals.
    • Act as lab supervisor for undergraduate and masters research students
    • Carry out additional duties as may reasonably be required within the general scope and level of the post.​


  • 1st class or upper 2nd class honours degree in microbiology or a related discipline
  • Experience in basic microbiology techniques such as culture, DNA extraction
  • Training in qualitative or quantitative data analysis
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills (English)
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a high level of discretion
  • Highly motivated, with excellent organisational skills
  • Full driving license for Ireland


Desirable Requirements:


  • Masters’ degree or previous relevant research experience
  • Demonstrated experience with WGS and/or bioinformatics
  • Demonstrated experience in systematic literature review
  • Competence in both qualitative and quantitative data analysis
  • Experience with research involving the public


Scholarship Amount & Stipend: The award will be €21,750 per annum. This amount includes €16,000 per annum scholarship as well as payment of €5750 in fees to the host institution

Start date: Position is available from 1st of April, 2019. 

Further information on research and working at NUI Galway is available on Research at NUI Galway

For information on moving to Ireland please see 

NB: Gárda vetting is a requirement for this post.

Further information about the Discipline of Bacteriology is available at Informal enquiries concerning the post may be made to Dr Dearbháile Morris (


Applications to include a CV, cover letter outlining suitability and motivation for the role, and the contact details of three referees should be sent via e-mail (in word or PDF only) to Dr Dearbháile Morris, e-mail:

Please reference PIER PhD application in subject line of e-mail application.


Closing date for receipt of applications is 5.00 pm on 22nd of March, 2019 

Interviews are planned to be held in late March, 2019. 

All positions are recruited in line with Open, Transparent, Merit (OTM) and Competency based recruitment


National University of Ireland, Galway is an equal opportunities employer

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting employers!