PhD Studentship

Project: Understanding Key Geological Processes and Controls on Cold-water Coral Habitat Development in Submarine Canyons (MMMonKey_Pro)

Closing Date for Applications: 1st December 2017
School: Biological, Earth and Environmental Science (BEES)
College: College of Science, Engineering and Food Science, University College Cork, Ireland.
Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time
Job Type: PhD Studentship (Structured PhD)
Stipend: 18,000 plus fees
Post Duration: 4 years

Position Summary

A PhD candidate is sought to undertake a project that will investigate the temporal dynamics of palaeo-cold-water coral habitats with special attention to reef cessation and initiation. Recent work on the Irish Porcupine Bank Canyon (PBC), a natural laboratory isolated from terrigenous input, has revealed extensive speciose, high biomass cold-water coral (CWC) structural habitats. Sediment cores collected through coral reefs, mounds and coquina will be subjected to non-destructive CT-scanning to reveal internal architectures as well as matrix and coral sub-fossil analyses (particle size, micropalaeontology, geochemical proxies and datings). The history of cold-water coral reef development in various environmental settings in the upper canyon will be studied paying attention of the styles of development, deposition and preservation under differing palaeoenvironmental conditions. The PhD project is part of a broader study (1 Postdoc, 2 PhDs, 1 MRes & 1 RA) monitoring canyon hydrodynamics, sedimentary processes and coral-morphotypes to reveal the process thresholds defining coral sub-habitats' limits, in space and time, and to allow predictive CWC, and habitat sensitivity, models to be developed to assist in marine spatial planning. Process thresholds will reveal the potential impact-response from climate change facilitating knowledge-based recommendations for effective management.

Key Duties and Responsibilities

This project is considered as a period of training for the candiate with dual goals in terms of research project development and career development. The candidate will be supervised by Principal Investigator (PI: Prof. Andy Wheeler - UCC) with additional supervision from Dr. Aaron Lim (UCC). Under the direction of the PI, the candidate is expected to:

  • To undertake the research programme on the temporal dynamics of palaeo-cold-water coral habitats with special attention to reef cessation and initiation.
  • To actively engage in the dissemination of the research results (in particular the preparation and submission of research papers to high impact international journals) as directed by, and under the supervision of, the Principal Investigator.
  • To interact with postgraduate research students who are studying for a Masters or a PhD in related subject areas in the School of BEES.
  • To engage in appropriate training opportunities as required by the PI in order to develop research skills and competencies. As part of the Structured PhD programme, the candidate will undertake a limited number of assessed training courses that will contribute to the overall award through discussion and agreement with the PI.



  • A minimum BSc (Hons) 2H1 in geology, marine science or related discipline. The candidate must have a relevant background experience in geology with an aptitude for marine science.


  • Training in benthic sedimentary processes, core analysis, palaeontology/palaeoecology, micropalaeontology, geochemical proxies, physical/chemical oceanography.
  • A capability of working within a project team to achieve results.
  • Good communication, organisation and interpersonal skills.
  • A commitment to gaining practical experience working on a research project.

School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University College Cork

The School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences (BEES) ( is a highly research-active school and comprising 25 academic staff and more than 100 researchers, including postdoctoral researchers. BEES also has strong links to the University's Environmental Research Institute (ERI) (, Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG) ( and industry. We offer a number of highly regarded taught undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, including a Masters in Environmental Geology, as well as contributing to inter-disciplinary degree programmes in the University.

For informal enquiries on the post candidates should contact:

Name: Prof. Andy Wheeler
Title: Professor of Geology, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Ireland
Email Address:
Telephone: +353 21 490 4577

To apply:

Please submit a short cover letter and C.V. to Prof. Andy Wheeler at the above email address on or before the closing date of 1st December 2017.

Supplementary Information on the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences is available at the following URL:


posted: 31 October 2017     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.