Postdoctoral Researcher in Tropical Conservation & Climate Change Mitigation

University of Sheffield - Faculty of Science, Department of Animal & Plant Sciences

Contract Type: Fixed-Term for four years from 1st February 2017 to 31st January 2021.

Reporting to Dr. David Edwards, we are looking to appoint a Conservation Scientist to research the biodiversity and yield impacts of the Centre’s field experiments on enhanced weathering within palm oil plantations in Malaysian Borneo and to develop a research program on the conservation implications of enhanced rock weathering as a geoengineering solution to climate change. You will have experience in sampling tropical biodiversity, preferably in both agricultural and forest settings, and a proven record of developing policy-relevant conservation science.

The aim of the first component of the project is to undertake detailed field experiments of the biodiversity impacts of enhanced weathering in seedling pots and in mature oil palm catchments, plus neighbouring forest and rivers, and to investigate potential co-benefits on palm oil production and protection from herbivores and pathogens. Biodiversity assessments will focus particularly on terrestrial and freshwater invertebrates and could use DNA meta-barcoding analyses. Knowledge of a specific taxonomic group would thus be advantageous, but not essential. The project will involve working in close collaboration with other LC3M academics, including geochemists who will quantify the rates of rock weathering, and a team of local Malaysian research assistants from the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP), who will coordinate on the ground logistics for application and monitoring of weathering treatments.

The second aim of the project represents an exciting opportunity to develop a new field in conservation science: the implications of enhanced rock weathering as a pan-tropically applied technique for mitigating climate change. The precise directions of this component of the project will be driven by the successful candidate, in close collaboration with Dr. Edwards and colleagues, but could include projecting conservation implications of increased mining for rocks, understanding how enhanced rock weathering changes agricultural profitability, and quantifying roles of global carbon markets in promoting enhanced weathering. It will also involve quantifying the conservation implications of enhanced rock weathering versus other Negative Emissions Technologies.

You will have a good honours degree in Natural Sciences/ Soil Science or Conservation Biology (or equivalent experience) and a PhD in ecosystem science/ land use change or biodiversity conservation. You will have excellent organizational and communication skills and will be expected to disseminate findings at conferences and in scientific papers to assist the Centre in achieving its aims and objectives.

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