Postgrad LIVE! Study Fairs

Birmingham | Edinburgh | Liverpool | Sheffield | Southampton | Bristol

University of Manchester Featured PhD Programmes
King’s College London Featured PhD Programmes
University of Hong Kong Featured PhD Programmes
University of Kent Featured PhD Programmes
University of Reading Featured PhD Programmes

Resolving the timescale of south-central African palaeoenvironments and their impact on human behaviour and evolution


Project Description

Timing is everything: accurate dating of the geological record is essential to understand our planet’s history, but beyond the limit of radiocarbon dating (~50,000 years) material becomes difficult to date. The Quaternary period (the last ~2.6 million years) provides a rich palaeoenvironmental record vital for testing the usefulness of climate models to predict future climate change. However it is severely underused because of a lack of chronology; recent advances in amino acid dating can overcome this impasse.

Amino acid geochronology uses the time-dependent breakdown of proteins in biominerals (e.g. shells, teeth). Our recent breakthrough has been to isolate entrapped proteins, which behave as a closed system, neither losing products nor gaining reactants over >30 million years. This provides an extremely powerful dating tool for terrestrial deposits. By focusing on a range of different biominerals (molluscs, ostracods, enamel etc.), this PhD will exploit these advances to develop a chronology for southern Africa, a region with a rich but understudied Pleistocene palaeoclimate record and a critical area for a full understanding of human evolution. Stretching beyond the range of the other dating methods available, this will enable the palaeoenvironmental record to be constrained, also allowing us to study the interactions between humans and the changing environment.

The project (based in the NERC-recognised amino acid facility at the University of York) offers an enviable range of multidisciplinary training; the student will gain hands-on expertise in state-of-the-art techniques for analytical method development as well as experience of fieldwork and sampling approaches. The supervisory team combines expertise in geochronology and analytical chemistry (Penkman; York), southern African Palaeolithic archaeology and palaeoenvironments (Barham; Liverpool) & palaeoecological reconstructions using multiple fossil proxies (White, Natural History Museum). Depending on existing expertise, the successful applicant will receive training in chromatography, dating methods, palaeoclimate, malacology and Palaeolithic archaeology. The student will join a vibrant research grouping with expertise in geochemistry, geochronology and climate change. The preparative and analytical techniques will be a great strength in any field of chemistry, but due to the inter-disciplinary nature of this research, the Chemistry-based student will benefit from additional training in palaeoenvironmental techniques. The student will be fully supported by the project team in archaeological, geological and geochemical aspects of the project.

The project is open to students with at least a 2.i degree (and ideally a Masters) in Chemistry, Earth/Environmental Sciences or a closely-related subject. For informal discussion please contact the main supervisor ().

This studentship is part of the ACCE (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), a prestigious NERC-funded DTP that brings together the very best in environmental, ecological and evolutionary research across the Universities of York, Sheffield and Liverpool, together with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). Students will benefit from a PhD training programme that has interdisciplinary collaboration at its core. The aim is to produce multi-skilled researchers equipped to tackle cutting edge environmental science of global significance, embedded within a unique, supportive training environment.
The project (based in the NERC-recognised amino acid facility at the University of York) offers an enviable range of multidisciplinary training; the student will gain hands-on expertise in state-of-the-art techniques for analytical method development as well as experience of fieldwork and sampling approaches. The supervisory team combines expertise in geochronology and analytical chemistry (Penkman; York) and southern African Palaeolithic archaeology and palaeoenvironments (Barham; Liverpool). Depending on existing expertise, the successful applicant will receive training in chromatography, dating methods, palaeoclimate and Palaeolithic archaeology. The student will join a vibrant research grouping with expertise in geochemistry, geochronology and climate change. The preparative and analytical techniques will be a great strength in any field of chemistry, but due to the inter-disciplinary nature of this research, the Chemistry- based student will benefit from additional training in palaeoenvironmental techniques. The student will be fully supported by the project team in archaeological, geological and geochemical aspects of the project.

Additionally, all Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills: https://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/postgraduate/idtc/

This PhD will formally start on 1 October 2019. Induction activities will start on 30 September.

Funding Notes

Funding: This is a 3.5 year fully-funded studentship part of the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership in Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment (ACCE). The studentship covers: (i) a tax-free stipend at the standard Research Council rate (around £15,000 per year), (ii) tuition fees at UK/EU rate, (iii) research consumables and training necessary for the project.

Entry requirements: At least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience for the DTP, including environmental, biological, chemical, mathematical, physical and social sciences.

References

Shortlisting: Applicants will be notified if they have been selected for interview in the week commencing on Monday 28 January 2019.

Interviews: Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place in the Department of Biology at the University of York in the week beginning 11 February 2019 (or the following week). Prior to the interview candidates will be asked to give a 5 minute presentation on a research project carried out by them.

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel: https://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/ed/

The Department of Chemistry is holding a Postgraduate Open Day on Wednesday 28 November 2018: https://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/postgraduate/chempgopenday/?utm_source=find-a-university&utm_medium=advert&utm_campaign=chemistry_pg_open_day_2018

How good is research at University of York in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 47.06

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully





FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2018
All rights reserved.