Research Assistant/Research Fellow in Soil Ecology
School/Department School of Water, Energy and Environment
Based at Cranfield Campus, Cranfield, Bedfordshire
Hours of work 37 hours per week, normally worked Monday to Friday. Flexible working will be considered.
Contract type Fixed term contract
Fixed Term Period 36 months
Salary £30,600 per annum (Research Assistant) or £33,309 per annum (Research Fellow)
Apply by 08/02/2021
Cranfield University Environment and Agrifood Theme welcomes applications from post-doctoral candidates in the area of soil ecology/soil science and related disciplines.
As the UK’s only exclusively postgraduate university, Cranfield’s world-class expertise, large-scale facilities and unrivalled industry partnerships is creating leaders in technology and management globally. Our distinctive expertise is in our deep understanding of technology and management and how these work together to benefit the world.
Our people are our most valuable resource and everyone has a role to play in shaping the future of our university, developing our learners, and transforming the businesses we work with. Learn more about Cranfield and our unique impact here. Our shared, stated values help to define who we are and underpin everything we do: Ambition; Impact; Respect; and Community. Find out more here.
The Environment and Agrifood Theme is recognised worldwide by industry, government and academe for our research and teaching in plants, soil, water and air. Our strengths range from environmental governance and risk, to food security. We have a substantial portfolio of UKRI funded research projects, this post is funded by the NERC Highlights program. We work with global and domestic companies, environmental agencies, and governments to ensure that our research benefits all in society. We believe that understanding environmental problems and alleviating them can be achieved through technological innovation and risk management. Cranfield experts are using our unique soil datasets and sensor-based diagnostics to provide new solutions for improving precision agriculture, soil health, protection and enhancement of natural capital through ecosystem restoraiton. Our near-industrial scale research facilities are unparalleled. These are combined with continual and substantive investment in our students, staff and infrastructure.
We are seeking a post-doctoral scientist in the area of soil ecology/soil science and related disciplines to lead the soil component as part of our NERC Highlight Funded Project “Restoring resilient ecosystems”, which is led by Professor Jim Harris at Cranfield, and includes the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Stirling University, the National Trust and Forest Research.
There is a global biodiversity crisis driven by mounting pressures including land degradation and climate change. Within the UK, responses include the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan, which sets out a vision to secure a more biodiverse, connected and resilient landscape.
One widely adopted approach to securing net environmental gain is that of "ecological restoration". However, using specific natural and semi-natural ecosystems to define endpoints is increasingly contested, as target "pristine" states are hard to define, climate change is leading to a shifting baseline, and there is a need to restore ecosystems that are resilient to future pressures. We need a new paradigm for goal-seeking in ecological restoration which goes beyond reference systems, is agnostic as to prior assumptions of intactness, integrity and system "health", based on diagnostics of characteristics of functionally intact system.
We intend to measure biodiversity, architecture and multifunctionality in ecosystems in different stages of transition from a degraded state, identify determinants and measures of complexity, and seek signals of emergent properties - especially resilience to perturbation, across a range of trophic levels – soil being the major focus of the Cranfield work. We have chosen grasslands and woodlands, being two major habitat types targeted for restoration programmes. Further to this we shall explore how approaches to accelerating re-integration of systems may affect emergent properties. In summary, we propose to move restoration science forward, but considering complexity and resilience as fundamental aims for restoration projects, rather than attempting to re-create specific target ecosystems.
The person we are seeking will be engaged in planning, experimental design, sampling of soils, processing and analysing them across a range of soil biology and biochemistry techniques, especially soil community structure and function including metagenomics, synthesis of results and production and dissemination of outputs.
You will be educated to doctoral level, or near to completion, in a relevant subject and have experience of soil research using quantitative methods. With excellent communication skills, you will have expertise in soil biological analysis and a metagenomics and soil functional measurement would be an advantage.
In return, the successful applicant will have exciting opportunities for career development in this key position, and to be at the forefront of world leading research into solutions addressing biodiversity loss and climate change, joining a supportive team and environment.
At Cranfield we value Diversity and Inclusion, and aim to create and maintain a culture in which everyone can work and study together harmoniously with dignity and respect and realise their full potential. To further demonstrate our commitment to progressing gender diversity in STEM, we are members of WES & Working Families, Bronze Athena Award, HR Excellence in research, and sponsors of International Women in Engineering Day.
Our equal opportunities and diversity monitoring has shown that women and minority ethnic groups are currently underrepresented within the university and so we actively encourage applications from eligible candidates from these groups.
We actively consider flexible working options such as part-time, compressed or flexible hours and/or an element of homeworking, and commit to exploring the possibilities for each role. Find out more here.
Interviews to be held: 24 February 2021
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