Research Assistant/Fellow

University of Plymouth - School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences

An opportunity for a Research Assistant/ Fellow has become available within the Biogeochemistry Research Centre in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Plymouth. This post aims to investigate the potential for volcanic ash to act as a microbial habitat in the marine realm. The study comprises geochemical extraction and analysis of volcanic ash and marine sediment samples collected during the recent International Ocean Discovery Programme (IODP) Expedition 370: T-limit to the deep biosphere ( This project forms part of the research output for the IODP Expedition 370 and as such work will be in collaboration with other scientists globally, including Dr S. Henkel at the Alfred Wegener Institut (AWI) and Mr L. Lagostina at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zurich.

We are seeking to recruit a highly motivated researcher who will work on the samples during the moratorium period research, investigating the potential for novel organic compounds as markers of distinct microbial communities in volcanic ash. As part of this role, you will be expected to undertake geochemical extraction and analysis using a range of analytical techniques to characterise the organic and inorganic matter within the samples. This will include using a carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen (CHN) analyser; gas chromatography (GC) coupled to flame ionisation detection (FID); GC-mass spectrometry (MS) and liquid chromatography (LC)-MS. In order to understand how such an extreme environment may play host to such microbial communities, full characterisation of the ash layers will be conducted with major and minor elemental analyses conducted. Reactive iron, manganese and aluminium concentrations will be investigated using inductively coupled plasma (ICP) coupled to optical emission spectroscopy (OES) and MS.  

Training will be provided in all methods, and as such this role represents an exciting opportunity for an early career researcher to gain experience in a variety of geochemical techniques and analytical instrumentation.

You should tailor your application towards the Job Description for which tyou meet the criteria, although the university reserves the right to make an offer at the appropriate level in relation to skills and experience.

Contact for informal discussion:

Dr Hayley Manners, Lecturer in Organic Chemistry,

This is a Full Time position, working 37 hours per week on a Fixed Term basis for a period of 6 months.

Closing date: 12 midnight, 17th August 2017

Anticipated Interview date: early to mid September

University of Plymouth is committed to an inclusive culture and respecting diversity, and welcomes applications from all sections of the community and is a Stonewall diversity champion.

The University holds a Bronze Athena SWAN Award which recognises commitment to advancing women’s careers in STEMM academia.

University of Plymouth has been recognised by Bloomberg as one of the 50 best UK employers for 2016

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South West England