PhD student "Ocean carbon cycling, novel insights from planktonic foraminifera"

Ref: EGIS2018BH

The balance of CO2 between the atmosphere and ocean regulates our climate through time. Understanding how this balance has varied in the past directly influences our understanding of how it may vary in the future. Such research is at the forefront of international efforts (e.g. IPCC) to understand and predict the future climate of planet Earth.

Between the ocean and atmosphere, carbon is cycled through three 'pumps': the solubility pump, the carbonate pump, and biological pump. Organic carbon burial in marine sediments is an important carbon sink, facilitated by the biological carbon pump. Understanding this sink is important for understanding the carbon and oxygen cycles on geological timescales.

We seek a highly motived PhD candidate interested in contributing to developing our understanding of the past ocean carbon cycle, working on the development and application of novel proxy techniques to reconstruct the isotopic composition of this sink, utilizing fossil foraminifera that lived in the water-column. Changes in the cycling of carbon in the ocean over the last 20 thousand years will also be investigated by performing experiments with an Earth System Model.

The student will have opportunities to participate in fieldwork and will spend time at the University of New South Wales (Australia) and MARUM (Germany). The student will be based at the Lyell Centre for Earth and Marine Science and Technology in Edinburgh within an active research group looking at marine biogeochemistry in both the modern ocean as well as the past. The Lyell Centre offers a dynamic and stimulating research environment enabled by the exciting collaborative research initiative between Heriot-Watt University and the British Geological Survey (BGS).


Applicants should have a first-class honours degree or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent) in a relevant subject (earth and ocean sciences, micropaleontology, biogeochemistry, marine biology). Although desirable, an MSc is not mandatory. Highly motivated applicants with an interest in the advancement and application of foraminiferal proxies, and with computing skills or an interest in programming and data analysis are particularly encouraged to apply. Scholarships will be awarded by competitive merit, taking into account the academic ability of the applicant.


This studentship is linked to a Philip Leverhulme Prize to shed new light on Earth's hidden past. This is a 36 month scholarship which will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend of approximately £14,500 for. The funding is available to UK, and EU students.

How to Apply

To apply you must complete our online application form.

Please select PhD Marine Biology and include the full project title, reference number and supervisor on your application form. You will also need to provide a CV, a supporting statement, a copy of your degree certificate and relevant transcripts and an academic reference.

Please contact Babette Hoogakker for informal information.


Bauska et al. (2016). Carbon isotopes characterize rapid changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the last deglaciation. PNAS 113, 3465-3470.

Menviel et al. (2012). Simulating atmospheric CO2, 13C and the marine carbon cycle during the Last Glacial-Interglacial cycle: possible role for a deepening of the mean remineralization depth and an increase in the oceanic nutrient inventory. Quaternary Science Reviews 56, 46-68.

Voigt et al. (2017). Variability in mid-depth ventilation of the western Atlantic Ocean during the last deglaciation. Paleoceanography 32, doi:10.1002/2017PA003095. Timetable

The closing date for applications is 31 January 2019 with interviews to be held throughout February.

posted: 12 November 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.