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Sources, Sinks and Subsidies of Carbon within Coastal Saltmarsh Habitats - SUPER Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP)

School of Geography and Sustainable Development

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Prof W Austin , Prof J Smith , Prof P Smith , Dr M Garnett No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
St Andrews United Kingdom Ecology Environmental Geography Geographical Information Systems Gis Mathematical Modelling Soil Science

About the Project

In a recent review paper two of the top ten priority questions in Blue Carbon (BC) research (Macreadie et al., 2019) asked: How can organic matter sources be estimated in BC sediments? and How does disturbance affect the burial fate of Blue Carbon? In this project, the application of novel field sampling of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from coastal wetland (saltmarsh) soils will be combined with detailed stratigraphic investigations in order to shed new light on the sources of carbon accumulating in these habitats and their post-depositional (burial) fate. This vital information will provide data that can help us to constrain numerical models of soil carbon turnover which are under development by colleagues at the University of Aberdeen. Together, these data will help us improve the accounting of the natural capital that is represented by soil carbon storage (and turnover) in UK saltmarsh habitats; providing much needed distinctions between in-situ carbon sequestration and the subsidy of carbon from adjacent terrestrial and marine habitats. In addition, these data will help constrain soil carbon turnover models, so that the implementation of an emissions inventory for UK Saltmarshes can be progressed with the best possible understanding of GHG fluxes. The project is co-supervised by Prof. William Austin (University of St Andrews), Professor Jo Smith (University of Aberdeen), Professor Pete Smith (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Mark Garnett (NERC/NEIF Radiocarbon Laboratory). The studentship will be based at the University of St Andrews which has suitable analytical laboratories to support the project, with additional NERC/NEIF facility support available. It is anticipated that some the studentship will involve visits to the University of Aberdeen, to integrate field and laboratory data with numerical modelling experiments.

Deadline for Application: Friday 5th February 2021, 17.00 (UK time).


The competition is open to candidates of all nationalities.

For international students, there may be funding available to cover the full international tuition fee. If funds are not available, the candidate will be required to cover the difference in fees – for 2021/22 this difference amounts to £17,970.

Entry Requirements: 

·        A postgraduate Masters degree from a degree-awarding body recognised by the UK government, or equivalent, or

·        A first or upper second honours degree from a degree awarding body recognised by the UK government, or equivalent, or

·        Other qualifications or experience that affords sufficient evidence of an applicant’s ability to work at the academic level associated with doctoral study.

·        Experience of field and laboratory methods are highly desirable; skills in data analysis and GIS are also highly desirable; skills in numerical modelling are desirable, but not essential; the successful candidate will have the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in remote coastal locations.

 How to apply: Applications should be made via the central University of St Andrews system: You should select School of Geography and Sustainable Development and clearly indicate in the funding section “SUPER DTP”

Please address general enquiries to the PGR Administrator, Helen Olaez, at [Email Address Removed].’ For further information please visit

Funding Notes

This studentship forms part of the NERC-funded Doctoral training partnership SUPER (see website -
The 3.5 year studentship covers:
• Tuition fees each year (UK fee rate only* - for 2021/22 this amounts to £4,500 for full-time study)
• A maintenance grant each year of around £15,000 per annum (for full-time study)
• Funding for research training
Part-time study is an option, with a minimum of 50% of full-time effort being required.
*please note: for International students, there may be funding available to cover the full international tuition fee (to be discussed at interview)
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