Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Страна: Великобритания;

Дедлайн: 09.09.2015



Applications are invited for the above post in the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography to work on the MULTI-LAND (Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Ecosystem Service Resilience in Multifunctional Landscapes) project funded by the National Research Network for Low Carbon Energy and the Environment (NRN-LCEE) in collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and Aberystwyth and Bangor Universities. The project also benefits from input from Coed Cymru, Snowdonia National Park Authority and Natural Resources Wales as partners.

The project will study sustainable intensification of land use and the resilience of agriculture in the face of a changing climate and an increasing population size. Sustainable intensification within livestock systems, particularly those in marginal areas has been identified as a major knowledge gap. Wales has a diverse agricultural landscape that provides a perfect outdoor scientific laboratory to investigate the complexities and feedbacks involved in the implementation of sustainable intensification, as well as enabling us to be at the forefront of a research area of high relevance to international policy and industry. We require an improved mechanistic and systems-level understanding of the interactions between grazing livestock, pasture plant species and soil function and delivery of ecosystem services.

This fundamental knowledge is essential to develop management strategies for sustainable intensification through spatial optimisation of landscape. The project team combines expertise in ecosystem services, biogeochemical cycling, GHGs and biophysical modelling (Bangor University), animal husbandry and metabolomics (Aberystwyth University) and landscape hydrology (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology).The successful candidate will examine the interactions between trees-livestock-soil on landscape biogeochemical cycling and the provision of ecosystem services. The research will involve extensive time in the field, soil science laboratory expertise and modelling using GIS based heuristics to upscale field site results to the landscape.

The candidate will be expected to meet regularly with other project members in Aberystwyth. Their main responsibility will be to design, carry out and publish the interdisciplinary research proposed for the Multi-Land project, and seek additional funding to expand the research program.

This post is an ideal opportunity for an ambitious individual to demonstrate leadership in high-impact research. We seek an interactive, driven and talented individual with a strong interest in multi-disciplinary research. Candidates should have a PhD (or equivalent) in the natural, biological or environmental sciences, or a related subject. The PhD must have been awarded more than two years and less than eight years prior to the position starting date. Candidates must have published or had accepted at least 5 papers in ISI accredited peer-reviewed journals. An understanding of the subject area of this research is also necessary. Experience of Forest ecology, biogeochemical cycling, GIS and working in interdisciplinary teams is highly desirable.

The successful candidate will be expected to commence between October and December, 2015 and the post is available until 30th September, 2018.

Closing date for applications:  Friday, 4th September, 2015.   

Interviews will be held on 16th September 2015.

Committed To Equal Opportunities


A NRN-LCEE cluster between Bangor University (PI Andy Smith, Co-Is John Healey, Mark Rayment, Tim Pagella), Aberystwyth University (Co-Is Jamie Newbold, Kevin Shingfield, Christina Marley) & Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor (Co-I Miles Marshall) in collaboration with Coed Cymru, Snowdonia National Park Authority, and Natural Resources Wales.

The candidate will be based at the School of the Environment, Natural Resources & Geography of Bangor University. Please see the institutional websites and the Multi-Land website for details on institutions, researchers and mentors, or contact Dr Andy Smith for further particulars.

The Project

Global population size is expected to grow from 7.2 billion to 9.6 billion by 2050. Such rapid increases in population, changes in food consumption patterns, urbanisation and environmental degradation represent an unprecedented challenge to food and agricultural systems. Natural resources are necessary to support agriculture and food production, while research has identified that ecosystem services are being diminished due to loss of ecological complexity in agro-ecosystems. Intensively managed agricultural systems, such as on many livestock farms in Wales, can become less resilient to extreme events, such as drought or floods, as a result of the erosion of ecosystem functioning. In contrast, the presence of hedgerows and trees in pasture can increase livestock productivity through the provision of shelter, whilst creating a multifunctional landscape where synergies in agricultural or ecological niches may be exploited to sustainably intensify farming practices.

Improving our understanding of ecosystem function associated with tree-livestock-soil interactions in upland systems in Wales is paramount to increasing terrestrial ecosystem resilience to climate change and extreme events whilst promoting the provision of regulating and supporting ecosystem services. Using an ecosystem services framework approach we will address identified knowledge gaps in ecosystem function and service provision. We will focus on the regulation of climate (carbon), flooding and water quality, the provisioning of food (livestock) and fibre (trees) in addition to studying the relationships between trees-livestock-soil to determine the impact of interventions on the critical functions and supporting services of net primary productivity, soil health and nutrient cycling. The research activities of this cluster are divided into four work packages that address four overarching research questions:

  • Can synergies between livestock and trees be used to sustainably increase agricultural productivity?
  • How does inclusion of trees in pasture impact upon climate regulation?
  • What are the impacts of tree species-specific functional traits and soil type on hydrology?
  • How can ecosystem service model parameterisation be improved to upscale ecosystem service provision from experimental systems to the landscape?
With the following outcomes:
  • Identify positive interactions between trees, livestock and soil and improve our understanding of animal behaviour and metabolism (feeding, growth, defecation and use of shelter);
  • Increase productivity and reduce GHG emissions of multifunctional landscapes by exploiting the potential synergies between trees and livestock;
  • Determine the role of shelterbelt systems in the provision of ecosystem services and in increasing ecosystem resilience to perturbations of upland livestock systems;
  • Identify potential tipping points, hystereses and non-linear relationships following land use change through temporal, spatial and process-level statistical analysis of plant and soil biogeochemical data and fluxes;
  • Parameterise a suite of GIS-based heuristics to model and upscale empirical relationships for spatial optimisation of the landscape;
  • Engage with stakeholder groups identified by our partner organisations to address socio-economic barriers and best practices for sustainable intensification in Wales;
  • Develop tools and indicators to help stakeholders understand the benefits of increasing the complexity and diversity of agri-ecological systems;
  • Inform policy on how sustainable intensification of farming practices can improve agricultural productivity and local livelihoods whilst enhancing the delivery of a range of regulating ecosystem services.
Purpose of the Job

The overall aim of the Fellowship is to generate exciting research and associated impact in the area of sustainable intensification. The fellow will focus their work around the Multi-Land cluster research questions; he/she will have a large degree of freedom to bring project objectives into action and to develop entirely new ideas for the Cluster. The fellow will be responsible for work packages on the intensification impacts on belowground ecosystem functioning, biophysical modelling of shelterbelts, farm level GIS modelling and upscaling and work broadly with the Aberystwyth PDRA and Bangor PhD student on the other work packages. The relative effort allocated to tasks can be adjusted to suit expertise and interests.

In collaboration the Multi-Land personnel, the fellow will take a key role in designing and coordinating experiments. The fellow will engage in liaising with external partners of the Multi-Land project. He/she is expected to generate wide impact for Multi-Land through leading high-impact publications and by presenting at national and international meetings and conferences. The Multi-Land cluster is committed to write annual research proposals to widen the cluster impact and the fellow is expected to have an active role in this.

Main Duties and Responsibilities
  • To investigate the interaction between trees-livestock-soil on biogeochemical cycling;
  • To investigate the effect of shelter on animal behaviour and energy balance;
  • To develop GIS based heuristics to model and upscale data to the landscape scale;
  • Designing and leading experiments to target emerging research questions. This will involve acquiring and maintaining an up to date knowledge of the scientific literature related to the research aims of the project; identifying data needs; assimilating emerging project findings and, and liaising with project partners to create joint empirical work and modelling changes to intensification at the local, regional & national scale;
  • Dissemination. Leading publications and conference presentations; working with project partners to create joint publications and to disseminate results to project stakeholders; assisting the PI with updates to the Multi-Land group and at project meetings; assisting with writing project reports to the sponsors;
  • Co-lead on grant applications that seek to expand on the scope and impact of Multi-Land;
  • Administration of the Bangor Multi-Land activities, including: coordinating project field campaigns and laboratory activities, maintaining experiments and monitoring that the aims and objectives of these research activities are achieved; organising project meetings; and liaising with project partners and stakeholders;
  • Gathering, storing and analysing project data. This will include: organising and participating in modelling; collating and entering in databases project data and historical datasets from project partners; analysing and monitoring the quality of emerging data;
  • Financial book-keeping of the budget controlled by the fellow. Including: budgeting costs of research campaigns, purchase of equipment and consumables; budgeting costs of meetings and conference attendances; maintaining and monitoring records of project spending;
  • Assisting with the daily supervision of undergraduate, MSc and PhD students that collaborate within the Multi-Land research programme.
Other Duties and Responsibilities
  • The post holder will be expected to participate in departmental performance reviews and developmental activities;
  • The post holder will be expected to comply with the University’s equality policies and statements, Dignity at Work and Study Policy and the University’s Welsh Language Scheme;
  • The post holder has a general and legal duty of care in relation to health, safety and wellbeing and must take all reasonable steps to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for him/her-self and for other members of staff, students and visitors affected by his/her actions or inactions. The post holder is also required to comply with all applicable health and safety policies, procedures and risk assessments;
  • The post holder must comply with relevant legal and financial policies and procedures and be aware of their responsibilities in terms of the legal requirements of their posts.
Person Specification

This post is an ideal opportunity for an ambitious individual to demonstrate potential for leadership in high-impact research. We seek an interactive, driven and talented individual with a strong interest in inter-disciplinary research. You must be 2-8 years into your postdoctoral career and have a minimum of 5 publications in peer-reviewed journals. You should have a background in a relevant discipline (e.g. ecology, biological or environmental sciences, or a related subject.). You must have significant experience with modelling and advanced data analysis. Experience of life cycle assessment, model development or high performance computing and working in interdisciplinary teams is highly desirable. Evidence of experience with research student supervision and GIS are desirable, but not essential.

It is important to us that you are a keen team worker and that you enjoy interacting with and co-supervising research students. It is equally important that you have a capacity for independent innovation in models and that you are comfortable with making independent decisions when the situation requires it.

Qualifications/Training Essential
  • A PhD in a relevant discipline and 2-8 years into your postdoctoral period;
  • A minimum of 5 publications in ISI accredited peer-reviewed journals;
  • Training in modelling and data analysis.
Experience/Knowledge Essential
  • Track record of designing, organising and undertaking model-based research;
  • Experience with fieldwork and laboratory biogeochemical analysis of plants and soils;
  • Track record of collaborative/team research.
  • Experience of biophysical model development;
  • Knowledge of GHG monitoring;
  • Experience of landscape hydrology;
  • Experience with writing grant proposals.
Skills/Abilities Essential
  • Excellent communication skills, including publishing in quality peer review journals and conference presentations;
  • Proficiency in analysis of research data;
  • Organisational skills: research co-ordination, data collection and filing.
  • Experience of statistics & GIS;
  • Experience of research student supervision.
Other Essential
  • Willingness to co-supervise affiliated research students.