(at Associate Professor or Professor level)
(5-year contract, renewable)

Biogeochemistry Research Infrastructure Platform (BIOGRIP)

The Biogeochemistry Research Infrastructure Platform (BIOGRIP) was established in 2019 in terms of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap, a high-level research strategy of the national government Department of Science and Innovation. 'Biogeochemistry' is the study of how biological, geological, chemical, and physical processes interact to shape natural environments over time and space. It encompasses a range of interdisciplinary research areas, from the origins and diversification of life to the response of natural systems to environmental (including anthropogenic) change. This 15-year initiative will drive biogeochemical knowledge creation and exploitation by (1) providing technical capacity, training and scientific leadership in biogeochemical research (2) developing world-class analytical facilities and (3) improving monitoring of key biogeochemical environmental variables through the generation and compilation of statistically meaningful datasets. BIOGRIP's activities will contribute to national goals of access to clean water and sanitation, management of soil fertility and marine ecosystem productivity, and good health and well-being.

BIOGRIP comprises four research 'nodes' based at the Universities of Cape Town (focusing on isotope biogeochemistry), Stellenbosch (water and soil biogeochemistry), Free State (mineral biogeochemistry) and North-West University (atmospheric biogeochemistry), with the administrative 'hub' located at UCT. The Director will be based at UCT and will report directly to the DVC Research. The Director will (1) provide strong leadership and scientific guidance to the BIOGRIP platform as a whole, ensuring that it delivers on its mandate (2) liaise with stakeholders, the management steering committee and scientific and technical advisory committees (3) hold overall financial responsibility for BIOGRIP and (4) contribute to the research output of BIOGRIP.

We therefore invite applications for a 5-year (renewable) contract position at Associate Professor or Full Professor level, for appointment as soon as possible.

Requirements include:

  • A PhD in biogeochemistry or a related field (preferably in one of the node focus areas)
  • A strong publication record and understanding of the breadth of science covered by the term 'biogeochemistry'
  • Experience in managing and coordinating a broad spectrum of staff including scientists at different career levels, technical positions within laboratories, postdoctoral researchers, interns and postgraduate students
  • Experience in the development and commissioning of analytical equipment and laboratory spaces
  • Strong track record in research agenda setting and long-term financial and resources planning
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • The Director must be able to lead and motivate a diverse and geographically dispersed research team spread across multiple institutions.

Responsibilities include:

  • Provide leadership, oversight and strategic management of BIOGRIP as a national research infrastructure platform
  • Remain abreast of the latest global developments in analytical methods and equipment relevant to biogeochemistry research, actively ensuring that BIOGRIP operates at the forefront of the field in ways relevant and useful to South Africa
  • Build and maintain relationships between the four BIOGRIP nodes and communities of users and stakeholders
  • Oversee the day-to-day management of BIOGRIP in the areas of operations, research, capacity building and training, and networking, visibility and influencing
  • Maintain communication between BIOGRIP and DSI, including production of the annual report and audited financials (with assistance from the BIOGRIP Finance & Admin Manager)
  • Build awareness of BIOGRIP and the services it provides amongst South African researchers, and ensure that the platform is marketed to a wide range of stakeholders
  • Seek new funding opportunities and build international collaborations
  • Conduct and publish academic and/or applied research in biogeochemistry
  • Drive transformation (i.e. promote inclusivity and improved representation of South Africa's demographic profile) in line with institutional guidelines and national priorities.

The following would be advantageous:

  • Experience in managing complex scientific facilities
  • Demonstration of experience in strategic planning

The annual remuneration for 2020, including benefits, is:

  • Associate Professor: R1, 065 129
  • Professor: R1, 309 616

For further information regarding this position, please contact the Interim Director of BIOGRIP, Prof Judith Sealy, email:

For further information on BIOGRIP, see the BIOGRIP information document attached.

To apply, please e-mail the documents below in a single pdf file to Ms Natasha Khan at

  • UCT Application Form (download at
  • A letter of motivation
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • A statement of planned future research (maximum 2 pages)

Please ensure the title and reference number are indicated in the subject line.

An application which does not comply with the above requirements will be regarded as incomplete.

Telephone: 021 650 3469
Reference number: E200356
Closing date: 01 February 2021

UCT is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity and redress in achieving its equity targets. Our Employment Equity Policy is available at

UCT reserves the right not to appoint.

posted: 06 January 2021     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.