Early career (PhD) positions for research into ocean alkalization and CO2 uptake

Join a diverse team studying how the addition of alkalinity, produced during production of clean hydrogen fuel, can enhance the ocean’s uptake of CO2.

We are recruiting a team of early career researchers (including up to 4 PhD positions) with interest in environmental chemistry (#1 and #4 in figure), aquatic biology (#2-4), and marine physics (#3) to work within a unique, multidisciplinary team. The team will investigate the efficacy and impact of adding alkalinity to coastal seawater in order to increase the ocean’s capacity for removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The research will contribute to development of Planetary Hydrogen’s innovative co-production process, which aims to produce H2 as a clean fuel while decarbonizing our economy and contributing to Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement. For more details, please visit the project website (alkalinity.oceans.dal.ca) or contact the entire project team at: oceans@planetaryhydrogen.com.

Supervisors

  • Douglas Wallace
  • Hugh MacIntyre
  • Ruth Musgrave
  • Jeff Clements
  • Ramon Filgueira

Project Description and Opportunities

Hydroxide ion, generated as a byproduct of a novel process of hydrogen generation, can be used to increase the ocean’s ability to take up and store atmospheric CO2 in the form of dissolved bicarbonate. This alkalinity addition mimics the natural geochemical weathering reactions that have created the ocean’s massive reservoir of bicarbonate and carbonate ions, and can potentially benefit organisms that are vulnerable to ocean acidification, including commercially important shellfish.

In collaboration with Planetary Hydrogen and with support of two major philanthropic foundations (Climateworks and Thistledown), we are assembling a multidisciplinary team of researchers to investigate this promising negative emission technology. The team will include 4 PhD candidates working on chemical, physical, and biological oceanography, and animal (bivalve) physiology. The doctoral candidates will work within a larger group that will include experienced postdoctoral researchers, technicians, undergraduate students, and summer interns from Dalhousie University’s Imhotep Legacy Academy. The team will have access to specialized training and research collaboration with groups in the USA and Germany. The project is led by professors at Dalhousie University, researchers at Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as well as personnel from Planetary Hydrogen and a commercial oyster hatchery (L’Étang Ruisseau Bar Ltée).

We are initially seeking PhD and/or Masters candidates in the following areas. (Note: candidates interested in postdoctoral research opportunities should also contact us).

  • Marine chemistry: Alkalinity impacts on seawater chemistry, including field-scale studies with autonomous vehicles. Supervisor: Douglas Wallace (webpage)
    • Background in environmental chemistry and strong laboratory skills; interest in use of robotics and sensors for field measurement of chemical properties
    • Ability to program (e.g. with Python or R) is a significant asset.
  • Biological Oceanography: Impacts of alkalinity addition on phytoplankton viability and growth. Supervisor: Hugh MacIntyre (webpage)
    • Strong quantitative skills
    • Preferably, experience with culturing microorganisms and/or relevant analytical techniques (chlorophyll fluorescence, biochemical analyses of biomass composition) and data management
    • Ability to program (e.g. with Python or R) is an asset.
  • Physical Oceanography: Prediction and field validation of upper ocean turbulence and diffusivities. Supervisor: Ruth Musgrave (webpage)
    • Undergraduate degree in physics or mathematics, and an interest in interdisciplinary work;
    • Experience with programming (Python, Matlab, R, Julia, or equivalent), numerical models, fluid mechanics and oceanography will be advantageous.
  • Bivalve Ecophysiology. Supervisors: Ramon Filgueira (webpage); Jeff Clements (webpage)
    • Ability to program using R or Python, and a working knowledge of ectotherm physiology, will be considered assets;
    • Undergraduate degree in biology with a background in marine biology, and experience designing and conducting laboratory experiments.

Training Environment

The early career researchers will work within a highly interdisciplinary team, with both national and international collaborators from academia, industry, and government. In addition to the training provided by Dalhousie University, members of the team will participate in regular workshops offered by team-members, covering topics such as planetary carbon cycle; algal and animal physiology; marine robotics; sensor design and operation; negative emission technologies; coastal modelling; Canada’s hydrogen economy, and career-related topics including entrepreneurship and business development practices. All of these positions will require candidates to have the ability to work independently but also within a coordinated and collaborative lab group. This requires a sense of responsibility to the team as well as good communication skills.

Our research group is already diverse and international, and we are committed to increasing this diversity as we recognize this strengthens the research environment and maximizes potential. We are therefore committed to a fair hiring process and employment equity practices that are consistent with Canada’s Employment Equity Act.

Please contact any of the Principal Investigators directly with questions, or contact us via our project email address (oceans@planetaryhydrogen.com).

AGU Carrer Centre, Dalhousie University, 30 April 2021. More information.

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