2511 Postdoctoral Research Associate in Marine Evidence Synthesis

Fixed term for 18 months from February 2023. Full time but we are also open to negotiations for some flexible working options.
Closing date: Thursday, 17 November 2022
Salary: Grade 7, £34,308-£39,745

We seek a postdoctoral researcher with experience of conducting systematic reviews/maps (or similar) and quantitative synthesis including meta-analysis, preferably with a background in marine ecology or biogeochemistry.

Full details can be found: https://enzj.fa.em3.oraclecloud.com/hcmUI/CandidateExperience/en/sites/CX/job/2511/?utm_medium=jobshare

Project Description

Marine sediments are a significant sink for anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2). Bottom trawl fisheries constitute the most widespread physical disturbance to seabed habitats. Recent research has sparked concern that seabed disturbance from trawling can turn marine sediments into a large source of CO2. There are, however, many uncertainties in these calculations, primarily driven by a lack of understanding of how trawling mixes and resuspends sediment, impacts bioturbation, bioirrigation and oxygenation, and how these translate into carbon fluxes into or out of sediments.

This project will address these knowledge gaps by undertaking a systematic review (SR) and meta-analysis to synthesize current empirical scientific evidence on the impacts of trawling on benthic carbon stores, sediment resuspension, bioturbation and physico- and chemical parameters that regulate carbon remineralization and storage across the ocean floor. The influence of factors such as gear penetration depth, disturbance frequency, ground type (biogenic, cohesive and permeable sediment), time of the year and natural disturbance will be examined on these relationships. These estimates and relationships will be used to inform ocean models of fishing impacts on carbon stores.

Evidence will be synthesized through meta-analysis whenever quantitative data is available and through systematic map, which will identify knowledge clusters and knowledge gaps that can inform the scientific community about essential targeted research and future research direction.

We are seeking a highly motivated Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) with experience of conducting systematic reviews / maps (or similar) and quantitative synthesis including meta-analysis, preferably with a background in marine ecology or biogeochemistry. The PDRA will lead on a synthesis of current empirical scientific evidence on the impacts of trawling on benthic carbon storage and remineralization across the ocean floor.

The role requires strong organisational, large database handling and analytical skills. The role commences on 1 Feb 2023 or soon thereafter and is full time for a fixed term period of 18 months. The successful candidate will be based in Edinburgh, however the possibility of working remotely will also be considered. A number of keys workshops will be organized, namely at the start and end of the project, to aid with review questions formulation and dissemination of research findings, respectively. The candidate will be required to undertake both national and international travel for these events.

For more information contact Dr Marija Sciberras (m.sciberras@hw.ac.uk).

Key Duties & Responsibilities

The successful appointee will be expected to undertake the following:

  • Conduct a systematic review on bottom trawling impacts on benthic carbon stores, processes (e.g. bioturbation and sediment resuspension) and geochemical parameters that regulate the remineralization of organic carbon. The candidate will undertake and manage literature review project from start to finish. This includes creating search strategies and conducting literature searches in electronic databases and elsewhere, article screening, data extraction, critical appraisal, data analysis, and report writing
  • Conduct meta-analysis of extracted quantitative data whenever possible
  • Organize workshops to bring together a range of multidisciplinary experts from the UK and outside the UK with the aim of defining review questions, identifying knowledge gaps and disseminating research findings
  • Preparation of scientific papers and presentation of research at conferences
  • Assistance in the day-to-day activities of PhD students involved in the project
  • Liaise closely with line manager and project partners, ensuring that good communication and reporting is maintained
  • Get involved in our teaching and outreach activities, with roles that can be tuned to the specific preferences of the candidate but will involve for example assisting in running practical sessions for students on Evidence Synthesis course and presenting at the Lyell seminar series.

Please note that this job description is not exhaustive, and the role holder may be required to undertake other relevant duties commensurate with the grading of the post. Activities may be subject to amendment over time as the role develops and/or priorities and requirements evolve.

Education, Qualifications and Experience (i.e. Person Specification)

Applications will be shortlisted using the criteria below. Please ensure it is clear in your CV or cover letter how you meet the criteria.


  • Applicants should hold a PhD in a relevant area of marine ecology, marine biogeochemistry or other relevant environmental science or environmental evidence synthesis (or a thesis submitted by the start date of the appointment).
  • Demonstrable experience of conducting literature reviews with understanding of the systematic reviews (SR) process
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of relevant statistical methods (e.g. meta-analysis)
  • Demonstrate high level of organisation and attention to detail, and ability to handle large datasets
  • Demonstrate a proactive and problem-solving approach in the planning and efficient organization of work
  • Have an appropriate publication record for stage in career
  • Demonstrate ability to articulate research work, both in technical reports, scientific papers and by oral presentation.


  • A background in marine benthic ecology and biogeochemistry
  • Experience of organising workshops and/or chairing meetings
  • Experience of undertaking a systematic review or systematic map
  • Knowledge of Microsoft tools (Power Point, Access), reference management software (e.g. EndNote), and review management software (e.g. Rayyan, SysRev)
  • Comprehensive knowledge of statistical programmes such as R, or other packages available for conducting meta-analysis
  • Experience of working with a multidisciplinary team
  • Experience in public presentations of scientific results (e.g. conference talks)

How to Apply

Applications can be submitted until midnight UK time 17th of November 2022.

Applications should consist of a single PDF (including a motivation letter describing your interest and suitability for the post, CV, publication list, and names of 3 references) and be submitted via the Heriot-Watt University website.

Expressions of interest and other queries should be sent by email to Dr Marija Sciberras (m.sciberras@hw.ac.uk) and Fenella.Watson@hw.ac.uk while Dr Sciberras is travelling in the field.

Heriot-Watt University is committed to securing equality of opportunity in employment and to the creation of an environment in which individuals are selected, trained, promoted, appraised and otherwise treated on the sole basis of their relevant merits and abilities. Equality and diversity are all about maximising potential and creating a culture of inclusion for all.

Heriot-Watt University values diversity across our University community and welcomes applications from all sectors of society, particularly from underrepresented groups. For more information, please see our website https://www.hw.ac.uk/uk/services/equality-diversity.htm and also our award-winning work in Disability Inclusive Science Careers https://disc.hw.ac.uk/.

Use our total rewards calculator: https://www.hw.ac.uk/about/work/total-rewards-calculator.htm to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.

posted: 24 October 2022     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.