Charlotte Dykes

University of Warwick


Dynamics of pollution transport in constructed wetlands: identification and quantification of underlying physical mechanisms of solute and solid (microplastic) transport


  • Soroush Abolfathi
  • Jonathan Pearson
  • Gary Bending

PhD Summary

The overall aim of my PhD is to understand and quantify the transport and fate of pollutants (solute and microplastics) in constructed wetlands, which are natural capital wastewater treatment systems. I aim to achieve this by developing novel methods to track and analyse the behaviour of solute and microplastics of different sizes, shapes, and densities in field studies and laboratory experiments. Whilst also considering the potential for microplastics to cause ecotoxicity within the wetland. This project will provide a step change in environmental protection and integrated catchment management by understanding and optimising the performance of constructed wetland natural capital assets.

Previous activity

I went to the University of Leicester for an undergraduate master’s degree. For my first 3 years I was on the Geology with Palaeobiology course, which enabled me to go on so many amazing field trips and really understand the landscapes we often overlook, whilst also learning evolutionary palaeontology, hydrogeology, natural resources, and environmental geoscience. I switched to solid Geology for my fourth year, where my masters project experimentally investigated the microfibre release from synthetic textiles, exploring which physical variables of fabrics may or may not contribute to greater microfibre release in a domestic washing context. Aside from studies, I was the President of the University’s Art Society and played for the mixed hockey team.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

I really enjoyed the research process within my master’s project, whilst the subject area itself of microplastics highlighted to me their profound significance on the environment. Particularly after first-hand counting the number of microfibres a mere 2cm x 2cm polyester square could shed after washing. Therefore, assessing, understanding, and designing the most efficient treatment/removal processes of microplastics and pollutants is crucial to mitigate further impacts on the environment.

Why did you choose CENTA?

Being on a CENTA studentship critically enables greater skills development through CENTA training credits, whilst also being there for you on your researcher journey. I was also really attracted to CENTA as a part of the programme involves going on an industry placement which is made possible through their huge number of contacts and partners.

Future plans

I am currently very open to my future plans post PhD, whether that is going into industry or pursue an academic career but I do know for sure that CENTA will provide me with excellent training that will enable me to pursue whatever I choose.