PhD Studentship

Project: Mapping, Monitoring and Modelling Key Processes and Controls on Cold-water Coral Habitats 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 benthic habitat mapping project linking (sub-)habitat boundaries to environmental thresholds and controls. Submarine canyons are dynamic environments that support diverse biological communities including fisheries. 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. This project will use newly acquired, and to be collected, seabed mapping and ROV-based video data to define benthic organismal distributions in the upper canyon. Organisms distributions, diversity indices and organismal associations with particular reference to sub-habitat boundaries will be related to environmental monitoring data acquired from benthic landers. The candidate will generate dynamic habitat maps cognizant of habitat succession and recovery, environmental dynamics and thresholds. The PhD project is part of a broader study (1 Postdoc, 2 PhDs, 1 MRes & 1 RA) monitoring of canyon hydrodynamic and sedimentary processes, core and coral-morphotype analysis 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. By assessing the magnitude of existing anthropogenic impacts within the constraints of the sensitivity model, recommendations can be extrapolated from the data for sustainable, responsible intervention in these habitats for fisheries and hydrocarbon exploration. Likewise, 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 a benthic habitat mapping project linking (sub-)habitat boundaries to environmental thresholds and controls.
  • 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 marine ecology or related discipline.


  • Training in marine ecology, habitat mapping, benthic sedimentary processes, physical 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.