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Job advertisement Postdoctoral Research Associate Marine microbiology and biogeochemistry

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European Geosciences Union

Postdoctoral Research Associate Marine microbiology and biogeochemistry

Postdoctoral Research Associate Marine microbiology and biogeochemistry

Heriot-Watt University logo

Heriot-Watt University

About the Lyell Centre: You will be joining a new and fast-growing Global Research Institute, the Lyell Centre – an inspired fusion of Earth and marine geosciences and technology created in partnership between Heriot-Watt University and the British Geological Survey. For more information on the Lyell Centre visit and


Edinburgh, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


Relevant divisions
Biogeosciences (BG)
Climate: Past, Present & Future (CL)
Ocean Sciences (OS)

Full time

Entry level


Preferred education

Application deadline
7 November 2021

5 October 2021

Job description

We seek a Postdoctoral Research Associate with a strong background in marine biogeochemistry and microbiology to join a new leading research institute in Earth and Marine Sciences. This project will look at how the ocean’s organic skin layer modulates gas exchange to estimate the oceanic sinks and sources of key greenhouse gases both now and in the future.

Salary: £32,817 plus 33 days of annual leave plus 9 buildings closed days. A pension option with HWU contributing 22.5% of salary.
An ongoing contract with fixed funding for 24 months with a possible 12 month extension
35 hours a week but we are open to discussing flexible working options when the project allows. This position will require extensive travel both nationally and internationally, including ship time.

About the project: You will be part of the Carbon-Water Dynamics group, led by Dr Ryan Pereira, committed to furthering the understanding of the role carbon and nutrients have in the environment, how it travels from the land to the ocean, and how various reactions allow carbon to exchange with our atmosphere. Our research philosophy is to understand the mechanisms and controls on organic matter (carbon, nitrogen and other macro elements) fluxes in Earth’s biogeochemical cycles using fundamental, applied and multidisciplinary approaches. While progress has been made to quantify current carbon stores and fluxes, a large uncertainty still exist on how these carbon flows will will change in the future. This is in part due to our limited knowledge on the source, composition and reactivity of organic compounds during mobilization and transport between terrestrial, oceanic and atmospheric reservoirs and how anthropogenic activity influences natural cycles.

In this European Research Council funded project, Breathing Oceans: understanding the organic skin that modulates the exchange of greenhouse gases between the atmosphere and the ocean (BOOGIE), we will further our understanding of how the ocean’s organic skin layer modulates gas exchange to estimate the oceanic sinks and sources of key greenhouse gases both now and in the future. Read more about it here:

About the role: As the lead Post Doctoral Research Associate (PDRA) on the project you will have a strong background in marine biogeochemistry and microbiology, and consider interdisciplinary scientific approaches as a key strength. The role requires significant fieldwork effort with participation in ocean going research cruises; you must be able to work independently, have strong organisational skills, and thrive in seeking solutions to a variety of challenges. You will be able to work as part of a larger team including other PDRAs, technicians, and PhD researchers.

The successful appointee will be expected to undertake the following:

- Lead a work package of the BOOGIE project with support from the lead investigator
- Organise and participate in ocean-going research cruises
- Estimate gas exchange transfer velocities using bespoke instrumentation
- Conduct biogeochemical analyses including elemental analysis, dissolved organic carbon, stable carbon isotopes, polarography, and UV-Vis absorbance spectrophotometry.
- Set up and run microcosm experiments of in-house microbial cultures.

Essential Criteria
- A first degree in Environmental Sciences or a related discipline
- A PhD in Marine microbiology, marine biogeochemistry, or a related discipline, completed or close to completion
- Hands-on experience in the area of microbiology, especially cultivation of marine microorganisms and in designing, developing and testing experimental setups for climate impact-related microbiology studies
- Experience with method development and troubleshooting
- Molecular microbial ecology experience including DNA extraction, PCR, qPCR, preparation for DNA sequencing and interpretation/analysis of microbial phylogenetic data
- Chemical analytical methods including elemental analysis, polarography (surfactant analysis), liquid chromatography experience, and data analysis
- Practical experience working at sea
- Experience of working as part of a multi-disciplinary team
- A developing track record of publications
- Competent with bioinformatics and statistical analysis tools
- Experience of reacting to problems using judgment and solving non-routine problems
- Competent with written, oral, presenting and IT skills.

- Ability and willingness to travel internationally to conduct fieldwork including on research ships for extended periods of time in remote areas (6-8 weeks may be typical), present at conferences/meetings, and to work at other laboratories (weeks) in the UK and Germany.
- Ability to liaise with global partners and be proactive in procuring samples, sampling opportunities, data, etc. from partners and collaborators.

Desirable Criteria
- An MSc in Environmental Biogeochemistry, Microbiology or a related discipline
- Knowledge of ocean-atmosphere gas exchange processes, ecophysiology of marine microorganisms, and/or marine dissolved organic matter cycling
- Willingness to assist in laboratory supervision of PhD and undergraduate students
- Experience in public outreach and/or social media engagement

How to apply

Contact for enquiries:

Candidates can make informal enquiries about this position to Dr Ryan Pereira (

To Apply: please attach a CV and Cover Letter detailing how you meet the essential and desirable criteria.

Heriot-Watt University is committed to securing equality of opportunity in employment and to the creation of an environment in which individuals are selected, trained, promoted, appraised and otherwise treated on the sole basis of their relevant merits and abilities. Equality and diversity are all about maximising potential and creating a culture of inclusion for all.

Heriot-Watt University values diversity across our University community and welcomes applications from all sectors of society, particularly from underrepresented groups. For more information, please see our website and also our award-winning work in Disability Inclusive Science Careers

We welcome and will consider flexible working patterns e.g. part-time working and job share options.

Use our total rewards calculator: to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.