Gregg Robert Ashcroft, School of Biological Sciences
Research Supervisor: Dr. Christian Dunn
Previous Qualification: BSc Zoology and conservation Bangor University. MSc Wetland Science Bangor University
Title of Research and Abstract:
Advancing constructive treatment wetland design for industrial, agricultural and domestic waste waters.
I design and build constructive wetlands for treating domestic waste, and waste water. It is an alternative sustainable technology for waste water. In other words, it is low chemical use, low maintenance, cheaper and long lasting for water treatment systems. I am looking at individual design aspects to improve the overall wetland. Currently I am looking at enzymes activity and how that connects to the overall productivity of the wetland and efficiency of the wetland. We are looking at carbon application and how that affects enzymes activity which affects the overall efficiency of the removal of the waste water and the chemicals in it. I am also looking at planting schemes to create diverse systems as they have a greater ability to remove waste water and how to maintain the polyculture to continue the level of productivity.
What skills have you gained from doing a PhD?
I have gained good time management skills and prioritisation skills, as you are expected to work with lots of different people and lots of different tasks so learning how to balance time and tasks was a great skill. I also learnt how to deal with data and interact with people. I work with landowners and other third parties to ensure the success of the PhD. I have also gained good networking skills.
How do you think your research can contribute to the community/external partners?
For external partners if we can find some specific use for the technologies, such as farms with high phosphorus levels, it would help the agriculture industry and it has become a big industry. By building the wetlands for local communities and farms then it is directly cheaper for water. It could also be used in developing countries and other parts of the world and it could become wildly used. It is also great for the environment as it will use less chemicals, and can some wetlands can be good for different wildlife such as fish.
Why did you choose Bangor?
I did my undergraduate degree in Bangor because the head of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust told me it was the best place to study what I wanted. I applied to do my Masters in different countries across Europe but a professor at Bangor told me to do the Masters here as it was the least like my degree and it was more specialist. I continued onto to my PhD because I wanted to continue my Masters project, as well as loving the actual city. I love the Welsh language, many people here are quite liberal which is good for me due to being a gay man, and it makes me feel safe here compared to how safe I would feel in other cities. Fantastic nature, fantastic networks and a great university. As it is so small everyone here is reachable. You never become lost and everyone knows everyone which is good for meeting other students.
Advice for students:
Make sure you get all the paperwork in at the start. Don’t stress about not knowing what you are doing at the start, I felt that way at the start then realised everyone was in the same boat. Enjoy the place and culture and make sure you take scheduled time away from your PhD, and that applies for all PhD students as the place has so much to offer so make sure you enjoy your PhD. Make use of the postgraduate groups and courses offered at the university and community, from time management to beekeeping they are all incredibly useful and I learnt things and met people I never would have expected. Also learn the language, the Welsh language is great and part of the Welsh culture so if you get the opportunity to learn some Welsh then you should definitely do it.