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Marine ecosystem change across major human transitions – chicken or egg? Using models to attribute past ecosystem responses to human and natural drivers


   College of Life and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr P Halloran, Prof Callum Roberts, Dr Ruth Thurstan  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Location:

Geography, Streatham Campus, Exeter or Penryn Campus, Cornwall

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home or International tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £16,062 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at either the Streatham Campus in Exeter or the Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

This studentship is part of the European Research Council (ERC) funded Synergy project ‘SEACHANGE: Quantifying the impact of major cultural transitions on marine ecosystem functioning and biodiversity’ led by Professor James Scourse at the University of Exeter (grant ref 856488).

SEACHANGE is a large international project (ERC Synergy) that seeks to understand how marine ecosystems responded to, or potentially drove, major transitions in human history. The SEACHANGE team is generating exciting new archaeological, paleoenvironmental and ecosystem data and ideas about early traces of human influence on the sea, and we want you to work with us to develop and test hypotheses to explain the transitions that these data reveal.

The major cultural transitions being examined span Mesolithic fishing to Neolithic farming in North West Europe, Viking settlement of Iceland in 874AD, pre-industrial to industrial fishing in the North Sea, European colonialization of Australia, and the advent of industrial whaling off the pristine Antarctic continent. Using simplified shelf sea models (e.g. Halloran et al., 2021) and marine ecosystem modelling tools (e.g. https://ecopath.org/) we aim to understand how changes in the climate system, local oceanography, and human pressures might have led to ecosystem reorganisation as humans exerted their influence.

Within SEACHANGE you will have the opportunity to work alongside experts and students from the UK, Europe, Australia and beyond, with opportunities to travel to develop collaborations. We anticipate that you will learn in a hands on way about the varied techniques other areas of the project will be applying. You will be expected to present your findings at international workshops and conferences, and publish your discoveries in scientific journals.

An ideal applicant would be comfortable solving problems using a computing language like Python, Fortran, or Matlab in a Linux environment, as well as having a grounding in oceanography, meteorology biology or ecology. We would however strongly encourage applications from highly capable and enthusiastic individuals with less obviously aligned educational backgrounds, as well as applicants with professional experience.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the PhD, please contact the lead supervisor Paul Halloran ([Email Address Removed]).

Entry requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a scientific discipline. International applications are encouraged.

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project. Alternative tests may be acceptable (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/).

How to apply

In the application process you will be asked to upload several documents.

· CV

• Letter of application (outlining your academic interests, prior research experience, reasons for wishing to undertake the project, and description of what outcomes).

• Transcript(s) giving full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained (this should be an interim transcript if you are still studying)

• Two references from referees familiar with your academic work. If your referees prefer, they can email the reference direct to [Email Address Removed] quoting the studentship reference number.

• If you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country you will need to submit evidence of your proficiency in English.

The closing date for applications is midnight on Thursday 8th September 2022

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers)

Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor Prof Paul Halloran


Funding Notes

For eligible students the studentship will cover Home or International tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £16,062 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at either the Streatham Campus in Exeter or the Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
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