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PhD Scholarship in Gamma Radiation Dose Evaluation (GRaDE)

University of Galway (NUI Galway)
Galway (County), Connacht (IE)
€25,000 per annum, [tax-exempt scholarship award]
Closing date
22 Jul 2024

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Earth Science
Job Type
PhD Position
Employment - Hours
Full time
Fixed term

Job Details

Application(s) are invited from suitably qualified candidates for full-time funded PhD scholarship(s) starting in [September/October,2024] affiliated to the [College of Science and Engineering / School of Natural Sciences / Earth and Ocean Sciences / Ryan Institute] at the University of Galway.

University of Galway

Located in the vibrant cultural city of Galway in the west of Ireland, the University of Galway has a distinguished reputation for teaching and research excellence

For information on moving to Ireland please see

Detailed Project Description

External exposure to terrestrial gamma radiation represents a significant component to the total average annual dose received by a person living in Ireland from all sources of ionising radiation. External gamma ray doses from natural radionuclides originate largely from the decay of radionuclides belonging to the radioactive decay series of 238U, 235U and 232Th, as well as from the decay of 40K, all of which have been present on the Earth since its formation. In addition, a number of artificial radionuclides (e.g., 137Cs and 241Am) have been deposited throughout Ireland as a result of fallout from nuclear weapons testing and accidental releases such as those from the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents. Since terrestrial gamma radiation depends on the nature of the underlying bedrock and soil composition, as well as the pattern of deposition of artificial radionuclides, an individual’s annual dose as a result of this exposure pathway will largely be determined by their place of residence. Several studies of gamma dose rates from natural and artificial radionuclides in Ireland were conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, and these have formed the basis for the estimation of terrestrial gamma radiation doses in the periodic assessments which are carried out by the EPA on the average annual radiation doses received by the Irish population from all sources of ionising radiation. By undertaking a comprehensive new survey of natural and artificial radionuclide concentrations and gamma ray dose rates throughout Ireland, and linking the results of these ground surveys to the detailed radiometric data generated by the Tellus airborne surveys which have been conducted by the Geological Survey of Ireland since 2012, the GRaDE project aims to develop a better understanding of the geographical distribution of natural and artificial gamma-emitting radionuclide concentrations in the Irish terrestrial environment with a view to providing a more accurate, up to date estimate of the average annual effective dose that a member of the Irish public receives as a result of exposure from terrestrial gamma radiation. By making use of a combination of high-resolution gamma spectrometry measurements, direct gamma dose rates gathered in the field using calibrated field monitors, and the gamma dose rates inferred from available aerial radiometric data on uranium, thorium and potassium concentrations, and 137Cs deposition from the Tellus programme, a set of new, high-resolution maps on radionuclide concentrations and gamma ray dose rates throughout Ireland will be generated using appropriate Geographical Information Systems (GIS) tools. These maps, together with information on population density, will be used to generate a map of outdoor gamma ray doses in Ireland and to investigate the range and average annual doses to a member of the Irish public arising from terrestrial gamma radiation.

The work undertaken by the PhD student will include a combination of fieldwork (soil sampling), radiometric determination using high-resolution gamma spectrometry with HPGe detectors and in-situ air kerma dose rate measurements using portable detectors. In addition the student will analyse the Tellus airborne radiometric survey blocks and seek how best to integrate them with the ground samples within a GIS framework to construct the new national map. The student will also get to spend a period of time in EPA’s radioanalytical laboratories which are based in Dublin.

Living allowance (Stipend): €25,000 per annum, [tax-exempt scholarship award]

University fees: €5,890 including levy

Start date: 01/10/24

Academic Entry Requirements:


  • Applicants should hold, or expect to attain, as a minimum a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in Earth Science, Physical Geography, Physics and Engineering with an interest in environmental monitoring. Excellent mathematical, computational and instrumentation skills.


  • Expertise in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Geospatial Data Analysis and Remote Sensing Programming and or machine learning experience. Research or industrial experience in any of the following  Data Analytics, Remote Sensing and GIS Strong communication and teamwork skills.

To Apply for the Scholarship:

Expressions of interest comprising submission of a covering letter, CV, statement of personal research interests, evidence of performance or equivalent and the contact details of two referees, to be submitted via e-mail to:

Contact Name: Dr Liam Morrison and Dr Eve Daly

Contact Email: /

Application Deadline: 22/07/2024 and time 17:00 (Irish time 24hr format)

Primary Supervisor name (if applicable): Dr Liam Morrison and Dr Eve Daly


NUI Galway is recognized as a research-led University that addresses issues of global economic and societal importance. Our research strategy focuses on developing clusters of internationally recognised expertise in selected priority areas. We have developed meaningful and strategic research alliances with economic, social and cultural partners in areas of regional and national importance. This strategy has resulted in the creation of research clusters in themes that are academically challenging, economically viable and regionally and nationally relevant. We continue to develop our research priorities within the national and international context in addition to supporting emerging and cross cutting priority area development. Our priority research areas build upon our key strengths and include:

  • Biomedical Science and Engineering
  • Informatics, Data Analytics, Physical and Computational Sciences
  • Environment, Marine and Energy
  • Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy
  • Humanities in Context including Digital Humanities

These priority areas seek to address the challenges and needs of society. Our research leads to life changing discoveries and polices that shape the future both nationally and internationally. Our vibrant and dynamic community attracts researcher leaders, academics, entrepreneurs and students of the highest calibre who thrive in our research focused environment. This is embodied though our research commitment , which seeks to:

1. Contribute to Knowledge

2. Create partnerships with Industry

3. Educate Future Leaders

4. Shape the Direction of Public Policy

5. Enable Regional and Cultural Advancement 

Biomedical Science and Engineering

Developing innovative research programmes that promote the understanding and treatment of today’s major diseases. The core objective of this priority is to serve the needs of patients through research, to provide a real and measurable return on investment, to enhance regional and national enterprise development and to contribute to society through education and scientific outreach. Researchers focus on some of the major medical challenges that face the world today including cardiovascular disease, cancer, orthopaedic disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Informatics, Data Analytics, Physical and Computational Sciences Science

NUI Galway’s researchers in informatics use their world-wide network of partners to take part in global standardisation efforts and to improve the way people and businesses communicate and interact. Research also addresses the problems presented by vast data sets flowing from imaging activities that need significant computing power to reduce, analyse and visualize and further research looks at modelling and simulation, which are integral to almost all physical and biological sciences.

Environment, Marine and Energy

This research area covers environmental change and modelling, atmospheric studies, biodiversity and bioinformatics, marine science and law, and sustainable energy. Research efforts towards enhanced energy efficiencies and conservation methods, renewable energy sources and new advanced environmental technologies, help address the dilemma between balanced economic growth and environmental impact.

Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy

Research programmes examine economic innovation, social change, social inclusion, balanced development and health. The Whitaker Institute applies a multiperspective research approach to business and social issues, with an impact-led focus within the following research clusters:

  • Business Performance, Agility and Governance
  • Conflict and Collective Action
  • Environment, Development and Sustainability
  • Gender, Equality and the Knowledge Society
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Innovation: People, Place and Society

Humanities in Context including Digital Humanities

Humanities at NUI Galway is a vibrant research rich area for scholarship and debate. Programmes include research into Ireland’s presence within the European and Global community and its contribution to international developments, as well as the unique contribution that NUI Galway can make to the Irish language and cultural studies.

  • Exemplary collection of archives in the James Hardiman Library dating from the 15th century to the present day including ; Archives of the Druid, Lyric Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe theatres, literary papers include the archive of John McGahern, playwrights and actors papers such as Tom Kilroy papers, and film archives include the John Huston papers.
  • Unique national training hub enables and encourages interaction between archival resources, digital cultures, the business economy, public policy and social opportunity.
  • Research informs creative practices, production values, and strategies for the creative industries.


Galway takes centre stage on Ireland’s western seaboard. A spectacularly beautiful county, it is a medley of contrasts - the wildest and remotest of countryside teamed with one of Europe’s most vibrant and popular cities. Connemara is located to the west of Galway; whilst to the south, in the mouth of Galway Bay, are the Irish speaking Aran Islands where age old traditions are found along side modern living.

Cultural Galway

Galway is known as Ireland’s Cultural Heart (Croí Cultúrtha na hÉireann), attracting thousands to the many festivals throughout the year. A few of the big attractions include The Cúirt International Festival of Literature, the Galway Arts Festival, the Galway Races and the Oyster Festival.

Vibrant Galway

Even though it is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, Galway has retained the friendly character and intimate feel that make it so popular. Galway is young at heart, with students making up 20% of the population here. Galway is the most international place in Ireland with 1 in 4 people born outside of the state.

Business In Galway

Galway is the location of choice in Europe for the medical device sector which now employs in excess of 25,000 people in over 250 companies in Ireland. Ireland is now home to 17 of the top 25 global MedTech companies and exports exceed €7.9 billion annually. Other industries include ICT, Tourism and Financial Services.

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