CBESS: ecoinformatics postdoc position advertised

Applications are invited for a two-year Research Associate in Ecoinformatics (ecological analysis and synthesis), co-hosted by Durham and Queen’s University Belfast as part of the NERC-funded Coastal Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability project (CBESS). Both host Universities are equal opportunity employers and are committed to broadening participation in UK science; we therefore encourage all qualified candidates to apply.

Closing date: 9th February 2014

Job Description

The post holder will collate ongoing and historical ecological and environmental survey records (microbiota, plants and invertebrates) from salt marsh and mudflat habitats at a variety of scales around the UK coastline. These records will then be analysed to determine the scale-dependence of relationships between biodiversity stocks and ecosystem service flows in coastal wetlands. Initial work will focus on the salt marsh-mudflat continuums around both Morecambe Bay and the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, with conclusions being tested at other UK sites in the second year of the project. Accordingly, work is likely to involve a number of short site visits to other partners in the CBESS consortium.

Because the post holder will be working as part of the CBESS consortium, there will be strong opportunities for networking and mobility, with the first year being spent under the primary supervision of Prof Mark Emmerson and Dr Nessa O’Connor at Queen’s University Belfast). In the second year, the post holder will have the opportunity to work more closely with Dr John Bothwell at Durham, depending on the progression of the project.

Prospective candidates will have a good first degree and PhD in a relevant field (e.g. computational ecology). Ideally, candidates will have completed at least one postdoctoral position and will be able to demonstrate expertise in standard mathematical and computational ecology techniques. It is anticipated that the candidate will be in a position to apply for independent funding (Fellowships etc.) by the end of their second year, and full support will be given for such applications.


The post holder will be working under the direct supervision of staff at Queen’s University Belfast for the first year, and Durham/Queen’s for the second year. The post holder will also be part of the wider CBESS consortium and will be expected to work closely and efficiently as part of a highly interdisciplinary network (microbiologists through to socio-economists).


The post holder will:

(1) Carry out the leading edge research in ecological analysis and synthesis required to deliver CBESS objectives, as part of the broader multidisciplinary CBESS team

(2) Be flexible enough to deal with the problems and bottlenecks that often arise in specified research programmes.

(3) Write up their research for publication in high-impact journals.

(4) Liaise with CBESS partners at a range of UK institutions to develop and share analytical techniques (http://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/cbess/managment/partners/).

(5) Teach and train relevant members of the CBESS consortium and host institutes, especially PhD students and new members of staff, at a series of workshops.

(6) Drive the development of future research programmes in collaboration with the PIs and other CBESS partners.

(7) Develop their own national and international research contacts to disseminate both their own work and that of the wider CBESS consortium.

(8) Keep accurate records of data and materials produced during the project and communicate results to the PIs on a regular basis.

(9) Carry out administrative and other tasks as requested by the PIs that, within reason, are commensurate with the Grade of appointment

Person Specification


Good first degree and PhD in relevant fields (e.g. ecoinformatics, computational ecology, biodiversity modelling).

Excellent analytical and data mining skills, with evidence of technical competence in programming for ecological analysis, e.g. R or Matlab.

Strong track record of publication in leading journals, commensurate with experience.

Evidence of ability to develop independent research directions and develop leadership potential.


Postdoctoral experience in ecological analysis and synthesis of complex datasets.

Demonstrable commitment to collegial work and collaboration as part of a multidisciplinary team, including strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Familiarity with formal mathematical techniques and theoretical ecology approaches.

Excellent coding skills in R and other numerical modelling packages.

Familiarity with coastal biodiversity and ecosystem service concepts.

Knowledge of policy, economics and/ or social sciences relevant to coastal ecosystems.

Your written application must include evidence of proven experience in the selection criteria and a record of top-quality publications in this subject area.

For informal enquiries please contact Dr John Bothwell: j.h.bothwell@durham.ac.uk

To apply for this position, please visit the Durham University recruitment page