Fully funded three-year PhD Project in Cetacean Ecology: Applications are invited for a three year PhD project funded under the BioDivERsa + project and based in the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences (BEES).
The eWHALE Project: The PhD research forms part of a wider project entitled “Combining environmental DNA sampling, whale watching & citizen science for stakeholder-driven marine biodiversity protection – NE Atlantic & Mediterranean”. The overall eWHALE project seeks to use environmental DNA (eDNA) from water samples to help in area-based conservation. This is a developing area that is moving away from presence/absence of a species to examining in more detail genetic diversity, but due to relatively small sample sizes has yet to determine population structure.
To overcome this, in collaboration with industry, particularly whale watching companies, it is anticipated that over a number of spatial and temporal scales, we will be able to provide broader taxonomic resolution data for marine megafauna and associated prey. These efforts will generate an improved knowledge base for safeguarding marine megafauna and its genetic diversity.
The PhD Project:
The PhD will focus on examining the feasibility of monitoring a number of large whale species and their prey from whale watching boats using eDNA. The student will interact with other team members in conducting this research which will involve fieldwork, including on board a whale watching vessel, laboratory work and data analysis.
The PhD position is funded through the 2021-2022 BioDivERsa + call for research proposals, with contributions from the national funders Irish National Parks & Wildlife Service and the EPA. It includes a tax-free stipend of €18,500 p.a. and tuition fees covered at the EU rate.
Start date; May 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.
- A 1.1 or 2.1 BSc honours degree (or equivalent) or in zoology, ecology, conservation, marine biology, genetics or a related subject.
- A strong understanding of experimental design and data analysis, plus some experience of ecological and statistical modelling in R.
- Experience in molecular laboratory work and analysis.
- A good understanding of and strong interest in molecular approaches to monitoring wildlife and their prey.
- Must be comfortable in fieldwork conditions including the use of small boats.
- Willingness to work independently and as part of a team.
- Full, clean driving licence.
- Good communication skills in both written and oral format.
- MSc in a related discipline
- Experience of conducting marine mammal field work.
- Experience of using Next Generation Sequencing bioinformatics pipelines to analyse large datasets.
- Experience in boat work and photo-identification techniques.
- Willingness to engage with the general public or stakeholders as part of outreach activities.
- Familiarity/experience with large databases
Award – The student will be working under the supervision of Professor Emer Rogan and Dr Tom Reed. Periods of research work may also be required at various locations around the country. The Scholarship will start on May 2023.
The scholarship will cover EU fees of €5,900 and a tax-free stipend of €18,500 per annum for a period of three years. UK applicants will be granted EU fee status due to the Common Travel Area with Ireland, but international students would likely be required to make up the fee deficit (currently approx. €10,000 p.a.). It is anticipated that the successful candidate will start the project as soon as possible after May 2023.
As part of a 3 year structured PhD at UCC, the student may also be required to undertake 15 credits of postgraduate modules aimed at equipping students with a range of transferable skills (e.g. project management, scientific writing, outreach & communication, and data analysis). Please contact Professor Emer Rogan (E.Rogan@ucc.ie) if you have any questions about the position.
Please send your application to Professor Emer Rogan (E.Rogan@ucc.ie) with “eWHALE PhD application” in the subject line of the email.
Please attach a single PDF document that contains:
- A cover letter of 1 to 2 pages: Your letter should clearly set out your suitability and motivation for this PhD with reference to your past relevant experience and achievements.
- A CV that includes your relevant experience, undergraduate results, any relevant publications (if applicable) and contact information for two academic referees.
Candidates will be shortlisted and interviewed via MS Teams within four weeks of the closing date, with the successful candidate informed shortly after interview, The closing date for applications is 24th March 2023, University College Cork is an Equal Opportunities Employer