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Research Fellow in Palaeoecology (CongoPeat) - AR2129SB

University of St Andrews - School of Geography and Sustainable Development

Location: Saint Andrews
Salary: £32,548 to £35,550
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 10th August 2018
Closes: 6th September 2018
Job Ref: 197113

Start: 1 October 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter

Fixed term for 36 months

Applications are invited for a three-year postdoctoral research assistant (PDRA) to work on the CongoPeat project, a NERC-funded Large Grant which will study the newly-described peatlands of the Congo Basin, Africa. This PDRA position, based at the University of St Andrews, will focus on researching the long-term ecology of the Congo Basin peatlands.

The PDRA will reconstruct the developmental history of the central Congo peatland complex over the Holocene. The postholder will be expected to undertake detailed palynological analysis of peat sequences from the region, and to undertake a range of related tasks (including sub-sampling, inorganic geochemical analysis, and preparing samples for dating). As the region has been very little studied, an essential part of the project is to develop a robust taxonomy, using published material and by visiting reference collections across Europe. The PDRA will be required to take part in at least one field expedition in order to collect samples, and also to curate, analyse, and take the lead in publishing the resulting datasets.

The successful applicant will require a PhD in Quaternary pollen analysis and experience of related palaeoenvironmental techniques. Experience of fieldwork in challenging and/or tropical environments would be an advantage. The applicant must be self-motivated and organized, and able to take the lead in collecting, analysing and publishing datasets. The PDRA will work as part of the CongoPeat team, which spans multiple universities and project partners. The project includes wetland ecology and biogeochemistry, in situ vegetation and means measurements alongside remote sensing technologies to map and model the system. Therefore the post-holder must be able to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

A number of other positions are being recruited as part of CongoPeat: a PDRA in Remote Sensing of Tropical Peatlands (University of Edinburgh); a PDRA in Greenhouse Gas Fluxes of Tropical Peatlands (University of Nottingham); a technician to monitor Peatland Ecosystem Functions (University of Leeds); a Project Assistant (University of Leeds). At St Andrews the PDRA will join a team of researchers working on natural and social science aspects of peatlands in Amazonia (, as well as in the Congo Basin, including a new CongoPeat PhD student working on a related palaeoecological research topic.

The School of Geography and Sustainable Development was ranked fifth nationally overall and third for research environment in the 2014 REF exercise. Its staff and students form a welcoming and supportive community. A wide range of career development opportunities and courses is provided by the University, which is Scotland’s oldest. The town of St Andrews is situated on the beautiful coastline of eastern Scotland, which is rich in attractions for visitors and residents alike.

The post will commence on 1 October 2018 or shortly thereafter, for 36 months.

For further information, please contact Dr Ian Lawson,

The University is committed to equality for all, demonstrated through our working on diversity awards (ECU Athena SWAN/Race Charters; Carer Positive; LGBT Charter; and Stonewall). More details can be found at

Please quote ref: AR2129SB

Closing Date: 6 September 2018

Interview Date: 13/14 September 2018

Further Particulars:  AR2129SB FPs.doc

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