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ONE Planet DTP - The importance of microorganisms in the cycling of climate active gases (Ref: OP202071)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Project Description: Microorganisms are likely to play an increasingly important role in the Earth’s climate system (Falkowski et al., 2008, Science 320: 1034-1039) and are known to affect polar biogeochemical cycles. In particular, they play important roles in the generation and decomposition of climate active gases. However, current climate models do not take into account the response of microbial activity and their influence in biochemical cycles (Incorporating microbial processes into climate models, ASM report). To improve the predictive ability of climate models, it is important to understand the mechanisms by which microorganisms regulate terrestrial greenhouse gas flux and to determine whether changes in microbial processes will lead to net positive or negative feedbacks on greenhouse gas emissions (Singh et al., 2010 Nature Reviews Microbiology 8: 779). This contribution has been particularly overlooked for the polar regions, where the environment has traditionally been considered too harsh for significant microbial activity to occur. However, it is now clear that microbial presence is ubiquitous across the polar regions, and recent research points toward a potentially dynamic polar microbial community and with it, the possibility of significant microbial activity within the snowpack (Redeker et al., 2017 Journal of The Royal Society Interface 14: 20170729), even in the most remote locations (Pearce et al., 2009 FEMS Microbiology Ecology 69: 143-157). Whilst it is clear that photochemical activity in the atmosphere is primarily responsible for climate processes, it is now becoming clear that microorganisms may have a significant role to play and the extent of this role may be limited only by research activity in this area to date. This project will link to MicroArctic (Horizon 2020), the Greenland Circumnavigation Expedition (GLACE) and the Svalbard Integrated arctic Earth Observation System (SIOS). The PhD student will gain experience of microbial ecology, Arctic fieldwork, flux measurements, modelling and laboratory based simulations.
Essential: Knowledge/experience of experimental microbiology and/or chemistry
Desirable: Knowledge/experience of modelling
For more information, please contact

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. OP.....) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

We have a minimum of 12 (3.5 year) PhD fully funded studentship awards available for October 2020 entry. Each award includes fees (Home / EU), an annual living allowance (for 2019/20 this is £15,009) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).

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