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Bicentennial Leader, Professor

Heriot-Watt University – The Lyell Centre

The Lyell Centre

Location: Based at Riccarton Campus,  Edinburgh

Contract: Open-ended

We are entering the first phase of our academic expansion at the Lyell Centre and wish to appoint academics that can provide key strategic skills and expertise that strengthen or compliment our multidisciplinary philosophy of team working within the Lyell Centre, across the wider University and with a global network of external partners.

In this round of recruitment we intend to make multiple appointments across the broad areas outlined below. We are looking for candidates that are excited by the prospect of working in an interactive and transdisciplinary environment and show clear potential to capitalise on this philosophy. We will also consider hiring entire ‘teams’ of researchers that can demonstrate the value of maintaining the coherence of the team. In addition, if you would like to join the Lyell Centre but you do not consider that you fit any of the roles below, we invite you to signal your interest to us so that we can alert you when our second phase of expansion is launched.

Marine benthic biogeochemistry: The Lyell Centre has considerable expertise in marine pelagic systems, oceanography and (palaeo)ecology, and considerable investment in automated underwater lander technology and high specification aquaria for mesocosm experiments under controlled conditions. We wish to recruit a marine benthic biogeochemist to compliment our existing skills. The successful candidate will have a track record of undertaking field-based research in either continental shelf or deep sea marine ecosystems. Candidates with a track record of developing or using ecosystem modelling in their research would provide an excellent interface with other groups in the Lyell Centre and more widely across the University. 

Bioinformatics/metagenomics/metatranscriptomics: We wish to capitalise on existing multidisciplinary projects to expand our expertise to address cross-cutting issues such as threats to human health, food productions systems (terrestrial and aquatic) and the wider living and geological environment. DNA- and RNA-based studies can be combined with disciplines ranging from subsurface engineering to marine environments to address ecological questions anywhere where microbes are involved. These techniques allow us to investigate the functional capabilities of microbial communities – both potential and active functions – which can help us understand nutrient cycling, pollutant degradation, greenhouse gas production and consumption, environmental changes, treatment of microbiological issues such as biocorrosion. We want to recruit an individual who will develop strong links across the University and who has a track record of working across discipline areas. 

Environmental Social Sciences: Much of the research in the Lyell Centre is focused on understanding fundamental processes and anthropogenic impacts on the environment, or the mitigation thereof. Social science disciplines provide the mechanism for implementing the impact or this research. We wish to recruit a colleague who works across disciplines and specialises in the delivery of impactful societal outcomes. We will consider candidates from a wide range of disciplines that include, but are not limited to, sustainable geosciences, ecological economics, social anthropology, nature-based solutions, environmental health, natural capital approaches, and transforming knowledge exchange using technology-enabled gamification and augmented reality.  

Social Ecological Systems & Sustainability: Our research portfolio is expanding in the tropics, particularly in SE Asia and South America where we have a number of high profile research initiatives with extensive partner networks in Viet Nam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Guyana, Colombia, Brazil and Peru. We wish to recruit a colleague with a background in working in social-ecological systems or community based research in coastal communities, ideally with a track record of doing research in Low to Middle Income Countries. We are happy to consider candidates from any potentially relevant research discipline provided they have a clear track record of turning either their own or collaborative research into meaningful impact to improve people’s lives.

Marine Vertebrate Conservation Ecology: We wish to strengthen our existing expertise in seabird and marine mammal ecology. There are considerable challenges facing seabirds and marine mammals both internationally and in UK waters given the spatial squeeze on the marine environment and the threats posed by offshore renewable energy and other marine users. Our combination of engineering and environmental expertise places us in prime position to be solution providers. We wish to appoint an ecologist who can add to our existing expertise and ideally who offers the potential to capitalise on our strengths in marine sensor technology and data processing, AI/ machine learning and underwater robotics.

A snap-shot of some of our research interests

Key Duties and Responsibilities

  • Have an established international profile with high visibility in their field of expertise and more broadly.
  • Set-up and manage vibrant and collaborative multidisciplinary research activities at the Lyell Centre that leverages existing expertise across the HWU campuses and within British Geological Survey and that results in world-class research outcomes and enhances the international reputation of The Lyell Centre;
  • Actively pursue large-scale research funding in collaboration with relevant University staff, BGS and industry partners, for example through the development of new joint industry projects and/or the submission of high-quality grant proposals to national and international research funders;
  • Publicise research through the consistent publication high-quality journal and keynote papers and other outputs.
  • Contribute to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at the University through the delivery of lectures, tutorials and research projects, as well as setting and marking examinations and coursework;
  • Represent and enhance the reputation of the University at conferences, with industrial partners, in professional societies, through membership of Government bodies or boards.
  • Work with industry and external bodies to develop new, or expand existing, networks.
  • Support The Lyell Centre management team by showing leadership and responsibility for particular management responsibilities, and to contribute to the overall culture and environment of the The Lyell Centre.
  • Establish a vibrant critical mass of PhD and research projects in collaboration with other colleagues across the University and with external UK and international partners.
  • Mentor and coach research associates, junior academics and other research staff at the University. 

Education, Qualifications and Experience

You will have completed a PhD in a relevant area, you will be recognised as a leader in your field, and will have an extensive publication track record and considerable grant capture profile. You show evidence of a portfolio of research projects and team management. Your network of collaborators will be well established with evidence of national and international collaboration and other esteem indicators. You will be recognised as an expert by external bodies and your research will influence either academic peers or policy makers and managers. You will have a well-established track record of inspiring teaching at bachelors and masters level. You will have supervised a considerable number of PhDs to completion.

Specific success criteria include:

  • Hold a PhD in a relevant topic with substantial post-doctoral experience;
  • Strong track record of high quality outputs of jointly authored, peer reviewed papers and other outputs;
  • Enhanced level of success and recent grant-winning track record relative to experience in academia or research environment;
  • Access to and established relationships or links to joint facilities/equipment pools/technologies/impactful collaborative groups of researchers;
  • New UK and international collaborative opportunities building on the current consortia leadership or memberships;
  • Demonstration of clear appreciation of link between excellent science and societal application, with potential to raise performance of The Lyell Centre in external evaluations of excellence and impact;
  • Strong track record of successful bids in joint applications for studentships, and joint supervision of MSc and PhDs to successful completion.

For informal discussions about the position or the subject area, please contact Professor Michel Kaiser,

For more information on this post and to apply please visit

Location: Edinburgh
Salary: £66,857 + Grade 10, per annum (negotiable based on experience and skills)
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Permanent
Placed On: 15th February 2024
Closes: 25th March 2024
Job Ref: 3498
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