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  Seaweed Ecosystem Services: Evaluating the Role in Coastal Erosion Mitigation, Carbon Sequestration and Nutrient Reuptake from Anthropogenic Sources


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  Dr Christopher McEleney , Dr Denis McCrudden, Dr Shane O'Reilly  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD project is part of the Postgraduate Research Training Programme COASTAL CONNECTIVITY, which offers 12 PhD research scholarships to commence in 2024. Each project will include an enterprise placement of minimum 12 weeks duration and a bespoke training package in coastal management and research skills.

Project title (COASTCON12): Seaweed Ecosystem Services: Evaluating the Role in Coastal Erosion Mitigation, Carbon Sequestration and Nutrient Reuptake from Anthropogenic Sources

This project aims to investigate seaweed’s natural coastal protection potential, ability to capture carbon dioxide, water purification roles and its consequential benefits to soil health, aligning with the ERDF's focus on a smarter, more competitive, and greener Europe. Seaweed beds are not just underwater forests; they are nature’s defense against ocean forces that cause coastal erosion. The North West’s abundant seaweed also serves as a natural carbon sink, locking away carbon and mitigating the effects of global warming, contributing to ERDF's goal of a low-carbon, environmentally sustainable Europe. We are also examining how seaweed takes up excess nutrients from human activities, such as fertiliser runoff that eventually enters our seas, which can harm marine life. By studying these processes, we can better appreciate and utilise seaweed as a product and a critical environmental steward. Through collaboration with Donegal Seaweed, a leader in sustainable seaweed products, this project will offer insights into how we can protect our coastlines, clean our waters naturally, and protect our upland soils while promoting employment locally, aligning with regional sustainability and food security goals. This collaboration simultaneously enhances local professional services and industry capacity, fostering regional development in line with the ERDF metrics.

Objectives of the research project

  1. Assess seaweed’s effectiveness in mitigating coastal erosion in the Northwest.
  2. Analyse nutrient reuptake capabilities of seaweed from anthropogenic or human-made pollution sources.
  3. Explore the potential for scaling up natural, seaweed-based solutions for coastal protection and water purification.
  4. Evaluate seaweed’s carbon sequestration potential in the marine ecosystems of the Northwest.
  5. Investigate the enhancement of soil quality by incorporating seaweed as a nutrient-rich amendment.
  6. Collaborate with Donegal Seaweed to implement research findings into practical, eco-friendly applications for agriculture and environmental management

A minimum of 2.1 honours degree (Level 8) in a relevant discipline.

Project Duration:

48 months (PhD)

Preferred Location:

ATU Donegal, Letterkenny Campus


Application Form / Terms of Conditions can be obtained on the website:

The closing date for receipt of applications is 5pm, (GMT) Monday 29th April, 2024.

Only selected applicants will be called for an online interview (shortlisting may apply).

Biological Sciences (4) Environmental Sciences (13)

Funding Notes

TU RISE is co-financed by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the ERDF Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021- 27 and the Northern & Western Regional Programme 2021-27.
Funding for this Project includes:
• A student stipend (usually tax-exempt) valued at €22,000 per annum
• Annual waivers of postgraduate tuition fee
• Extensive research training programme
• Support for travel, consumables and dissemination expenses