PhD scholarship: “Using stable isotope tracers to determine the impact of climate-related stressors on carbon and nitrogen cycling”, Southern Cross University, Australia

Deadline for applications: 18 April 2016!

Shallow-water sediments at the land-sea interface are dynamic sites of carbon and nitrogen processing and therefore play a significant role in oceanic biogeochemical cycling. These processes can, however, be impacted by environmental conditions. Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations are predicted to be a major cause of changed environmental conditions in the next few decades. Specifically, by the year 2100, it is estimated that rising CO2 levels will decrease ocean pH by 0.3 units, and increase global temperatures by 2 to 6.4°C. Although numerous studies have investigated the effect of these changes on individual marine organisms, few have considered how the combined effect of ocean acidification and rising temperatures may change biogeochemical cycles in coastal sediments. This is significant, as changes in these cycles may affect the quality and quantity of oceanic carbon and nitrogen, which could have far-reaching impacts.

This project aims to use stable isotope tracers to evaluate the consequences of changes in pH and temperature on the source, processing, and fate of carbon and nitrogen in coastal sediments. The project will have a multidisciplinary approach, involving manipulative experiments, stable isotope tracers, and biogeochemical process measurements.

The project is offered by the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry (www.scu.edu.au/coastal-biogeochemistry) at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia. Southern Cross University received the highest rank of 5.0 (well above world average) in geochemistry in the most recent assessment of research excellence by the Australian government. The Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry is equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation for biogeochemical process measurements and stable isotope analysis and has full technical support. The project will be supervised by Dr Joanne Oakes, Prof. Bradley Eyre, and Assoc. Prof. Kai Schulz.

The position is open to national and international applicants. The successful candidate will need to have an Honours or Masters Degree in a related field, and ideally should have experience in one or more of the following areas: ocean acidification, stable isotopes (especially carbon and/or nitrogen tracers), sediment biogeochemistry, manipulative experiments. The project will require
significant field work and may include boat work. The PhD scholarship will provide a tax free stipend of $25,800 pa (AUD) and tuition fees will be waived.

Interested applicants should send their CV highlighting their research background to Dr Joanne Oakes (joanne.oakes(at)scu.edu.au). Short-listed candidates will be requested to prepare a 2-page research proposal and to participate in a telephone or Skype interview. The closing date for applications is April 18th, 2016, but may be extended if the position is not filled. The starting date is flexible, but ideally the candidate should start by August 2016.

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