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Wood degradation and ash dieback (NEXCELSIOR project)

School of Agriculture & Food Science

Monday, August 17, 2020 Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a suitably qualified and motivated graduate to undertake an MSc study in University College Dublin (UCD) as part of the NEXCELSIOR research project “Next steps in managing the impact of ash dieback” funded by DAFM. This project is collaborative and involves research teams in UCD, TCD and AFBI Northern Ireland. The overall aim of NEXCELSIOR is to develop evidence-based guidance for foresters to minimise the impact of ash dieback and to maximise the recovery of timber or other products/services and preserve ash as a component in Irish forests and hedgerows.

Ash trees have considerable economic, cultural and environmental value on the island of Ireland for forestry and ecosystem service provision. Given the rapid spread of ash dieback disease on the island since its first finding in 2012, research is needed to inform the governments (north and south) and industry on ways to minimise the impact of this fungal pathogen. The pathogen is now past the point of eradication, being present in all 32 counties. This spread of the disease has been reflected in the recent change of policy in Ireland and Northern Ireland to one of management rather than eradication. NEXCELSIOR will therefore devise strategies for managing ash forests (infected and at-risk) under Irish conditions.

This MSc study will investigate the use of a quick and non-destructive timber quality test to assess degradation resulting from dieback infection. In combination with some tree ring assessments, this technique will then be used to characterise the rate of degradation and decomposition to allow the development of recommendations for best practice in timber recovery from ash stands.

The MSc study will require the successful student to:
 Prepare a state-of-art review of academic literature relevant to the field of study;
 Contribute to selection of study sites (with wider project team);
 To parameterise and calibrate a quick and non-destructive measurement technique to assess the impact of ash dieback infection on timber quality properties;
 To investigate the rate and extent of progression of post-infection degradation within ash stem/branch timber;
 Prepare to publish/ present research findings in academic journals and at national and international academic conferences in collaboration with the rest of the project team.

Requirements/Qualifications: The successful candidate should hold a good primary degree (First- or Second-class Honours (2.1 Hons)) in an appropriate discipline such as forestry, agriculture, wood science, land-use management or a related discipline. Applicants should be highly motivated, have good communication skills and must be prepared to work within a multidisciplinary team. A successful candidate will be required to have a full driving licence to facilitate the field collection of data.
Proposed Start Date: September 2020
Application Closing Date: Monday 17th August 2020 (application will remain open until filled by a suitable candidate)

Applicants should submit their Curriculum Vitae (with names of 2 referees), together with a personal statement explaining
(i) how you meet the requirements of the position and;
(ii) why you would like to pursue a Masters Research Programme, to Dr Brian Tobin ().

Funding Notes

€18,000 stipend per annum for up to 23 months (€24,000 minus €6,000 University fees).

Candidates from outside the EU are eligible to apply but will be expected to provide evidence of sources of additional funds to cover excesses associated with Non-EU fees.
If English is not the applicant’s first language, a certificate of English language ability is required. For IELTS, an average score of 6.5 over all components and a minimum of 6.0 in each band is required. Scores deemed to be comparable under different tests will be considered.


Please provide the names of two referees.

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