Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Use of eDNA to assess the impact of decommissioning on marine sediment communities

and the development of an industry-relevant environmental monitoring toolkit.

Details

Title: Use of eDNA to assess the impact of decommissioning on marine sediment communities and the development of an industry-relevant environmental monitoring toolkit.

Funding: Full time Home fees and a standard tax-free stipend for three years equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,609 in 2021-22). This studentship is a 3 year + 1 year award that may be taken full-time or part-time. To be eligible for this award you must be a Home student (i.e. UK national meeting residency requirements).

Application deadline: 11.59pm, 31st January 2022.

Start date: April 2022.

Duration: 3 years (full time)

Location: Colchester Campus

Based in: School of Life Sciences

Scientific background

The North Sea has >1300 oil and gas installations, and a further 1800 offshore wind turbines all of which will require full removal at the end of their service.

However, in some areas of the world, decommissioning practice has led to a ‘rigs-to-reefs’ approach, where these man-made structures (MMS) are left in situ, to form artificial reefs. This approach however, has not yet been approved for the North Sea, largely due to a lack of knowledge about how MMS removal (i.e. full vs partial) impacts on marine life.

The project

This PhD Studentship funded by the NERC-INSITE programme, University of Essex and University of St Andrews will undertake ground breaking research using environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches to characterise biodiversity surrounding MMS and their decommissioning in the North Sea.

A major project output is to develop an industry relevant, user-friendly ‘lab in a suitcase’ toolkit that will provide an accurate and rapid biodiversity assessment to assist industry in the environmental monitoring of MMS decommissioning.

Training

Combining lab and fieldwork, the student will receive a comprehensive package of training on analytical chemical, molecular and bioinformatics (Essex University) and visit St Andrews and Cefas  to gain further skills in benthic ecology  and diversity.

The student will also have opportunities to participate in research cruises on the North Sea (Cefas) and gain business and policy experience (at VIA University College, Cefas, Shell).

The student will also present their research at national and international conferences and publish their findings for data dissemination and to build their research profile.

Collaborative Partners

Based at the School of Life Sciences, University of Essex, the student will join the internationally recognized Ecology and Environmental Microbiology Research Group in a joint Ph.D. with the University of St Andrew (Prof David M. Paterson)  and supported by the supervisory team at the collaborative partners: Centre for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Environment Science (Cefas), VIA University College, Denmark and Shell (Case Partner).

The student will become empowered in their path to become an independent researcher by a supportive and experienced supervisory team.

Funding

To be eligible for this award you must be a Home student (i.e. UK national meeting residency requirements). The funding covers Home student tuition fees plus a stipend of approximately £15,609, increasing each year for the 3 years of funding.

Contact the lead supervisor for more information.

 

Person specification

To be eligible for this award you must:

  • Be a Home student (i.e. UK national meeting residency requirements).
  • Have a first or upper second class BSc (or equivalent) or Masters in a relevant area.
  • We welcome applicants from environmental science, chemistry or molecular biology backgrounds.

How to apply

To apply for this studentship please email your CV to Emma Revill (ecrix@essex.ac.uk).

The deadline is 11.59pm on Monday 31st January 2022. 

Please contact Professor Corinne Whitby (cwhitby@essex.ac.uk) for further information about the project.