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  PhD position in paleoceanographic proxies and past climate change: Past ocean oxygenation

   School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society

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  Dr B Hoogakker  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project reference: EGIS2023-BH2

Are you interested in using past paleoceanographic reconstructions to help us understand our future planet? We are looking for an enthusiastic team-member to join the Past Climate Change Group at the Lyell Centre (Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh UK) as a PhD researcher. The project offers opportunities to work on data synthesis, proxy development and application.

The research project

The oxygen content of the ocean is critical to oceanic ecosystems and the biogeochemical cycling of elements, including carbon. Due to recent decreases in seawater oxygen content, there has been a rising interest in understanding how and why seawater oxygen concentrations vary.

The aim of this project is to improve our understanding of past ocean oxygen levels in periods of the geological past. This will help to understand how seawater oxygen levels respond to natural climate perturbations. The project will help future Earth System Modellers and IPCC analysts to build a well-informed consensus of potential future changes in ocean oxygenation.

The PhD project offers flexibility to fit the interests of the team-member. There will the opportunities to be involved with the synthesis of existing data, further development of existing methods, and reconstruction of seawater oxygen levels through time periods (for example, but not limited to the recent (Holocene), other interglacials and glacials of the Pleistocene).

Over the course of the PhD candidate will gain transferable skills such as scientific writing, statistics and data analysis, and problem-solving, as well as time management and working towards a long-term goal. There will also be ample opportunities to be involved with outreach activities.


Applicants should have a first-class honours degree or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent) in a relevant subject, such as earth and ocean sciences, marine biology and geochemistry.

How to Apply

Please complete our online application form.

Please select PhD Marine Biology as the programme and include the full project title, reference number (EGIS2023-BH2) and supervisor name (Dr B Hoogakker) on your application form. Ensure that all fields marked as ‘required’ are complete.

Once have entered your personal details, click submit. You will be asked to upload your supporting documents. You must complete the section marked project proposal; provide a supporting statement (1-2 A4 pages) documenting your reasons for applying to this particular project, why you are an ideal candidate for the position and what ideas you could bring to the project. 

You must also upload your CV, a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts and an academic reference in the relevant section of the application form. 

You must also provide proof of your ability in the English language (if English is not your mother tongue or if you have not already studied for a degree that was taught in English within the last 2 years). We require an IELTS certificate showing an overall score of at least 6.5 with no component scoring less than 6.0 or a TOEFL certificate with a minimum score of 90 points.

For informal enquiries please get in touch with Babette Hoogakker: [Email Address Removed]


Please contact [Email Address Removed] for technical support with your application.



The closing date for applications is 15th January 2024. Interviews will be held week commencing 29th January 2024. Project start date is flexible, but should start no later than September 2024.


Place of work & supervisory team

The PhD candidate will mainly be based at the Lyell Centre at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, and will be expected to spend some time in Keyworth (British Geological Survey, BGS). The Lyell Centre and BGS offers a dynamic and stimulating research environment. The PhD candidate will be supported by a supervisory team consisting of Babette Hoogakker (lead, HW Uni), Katrina Nillson-Kerr (Bergen University), and Elliott Hamilton, Simon Chenery and Olivier Humphrey (BGS).

Environmental Sciences (13) Geography (17)

Funding Notes

his is a full scholarship, funded by Heriot Watt University, which will cover tuition fees and provide a stipend (currently £18622 per annum) for the 42 month duration of the studentship. The funding is available to UK, EU and international students.