Postdoctoral Research Associate in Geochemistry, Palaeobiology and Sedimentology

  • Salary:
  • Location: Edinburgh
  • Date: 1 week ago
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We are seeking an ambitious and motivated Post-Doctoral Research Associate (PDRA) to undertake research on the Cambrian Explosion. We seek to constrain the timing and origin of the BAsal Cambrian carbon isotope Excursion (BACE) via a multi-disciplinary programme of novel analyses and modelling using new, global, unweathered, core data. You will be part of a NERC funded project where we aim to understand a fundamental and motivating question: what caused animals to evolve and radiate when they did? This unique dataset is likely to be transformative as it will resolve the key processes fundamental to the coupled evolution of the Earth System and the rise of complex life.

Our integrated approach will create a high resolution radiometric (via ash beds) temporal and 4D sedimentological framework, and also understand the local redox and weathering dynamics of the BACE. We will quantitatively test hypotheses for the cause(s) of the BACE against our new multi-proxy data in order to understand the evolutionary implications of the BACE.

Training will be given at all stages of your work and this position is an exciting opportunity to develop cutting edge research and technical expertise that will enable and facilitate research in a wide range of fields. You will be based at UoE's School of Geosciences, and join an experienced team of interdisciplinary researchers.

The School aims to ensure equality of opportunity and holds an Athena SWAN Silver award. We welcome applications from everyone irrespective of gender or ethnic group. Appointment will be based on merit alone.

This is a full time (35 hours per week) and fixed term role for 30 months.

Salary: £33,797 to £40,322 per annum

Closing date: Wednesday 17th June 2020 at 5pm.

1. Job Details

Job title: Postdoctoral Research Associate in Geochemistry, Palaeobiology and Sedimentology

School/Support Department: School of Geosciences

Line manager: Prof Rachel Wood

2. Job Purpose

To create and interrogate an integrated stratigraphic dataset of sedimentology, redox and isotope geochemistry, and palaeobiology in order to resolve the enigmatic Basal Cambrian carbon isotope Excursion (BACE), via a highly integrated, multi-disciplinary programme of novel analyses and modelling using new, global, unweathered, core data.

3. Main Responsibilities
(Approx. % of time)

In collaboration with and under the direction of Prof. Wood:

  1. Review and keep up to date with literature on the BACE, to ensure the project uses the current state of the art (5%)
  2. To constrain the timing of onset, duration, and global nature of the BACE, by creation of an integrated and high-resolution radiometric (via ash beds) temporal and 4D sedimentological framework (20%).
  3. To understand the local redox and phosphorus dynamics (15%)
  4. To establish ocean pH and continental weathering conditions via isotopic analysis (10%).
  5. To understand the evolutionary implications of the BACE (10%).
  6. To interpret the results and models in collaboration with rest of the grant team (20%).
  7. Publish results in leading international academic journals (10%)
  8. Contribute to outreach activities, including relevant stakeholders and the next generation of PhD students and undergraduates (5%)
  9. Contribute to development of future funding applications and provide guidance to other staff/students where needed (5%).

4. Planning and Organising

• Work with Principal Investigator (PI) and co-PI team to organise time to ensure achievement of all project objectives.
• Work with co-I and PP to achieve geochemical objectives.
• Work with PI, project partners and stakeholders to organise meetings and training sessions as appropriate.

5. Problem Solving

• Interpret data and build hypotheses based on results
• Ability to resolve problems constructively as they occur

6. Decision Making

Key decisions will be made collaboratively with inputs from the PI and co-I and PP team. The post-holder will undertake day-to-day decision making on all lab analyses and analysis of results. They will need to exercise good judgement as to which decisions must be referred to the PI and which should simply be implemented and documented.

7. Key Contacts/Relationships

The post holder will principally interact with the Principal Investigator and co-I Simon Poulton at Leeds and PP Simone Kasemann in Bremen. The post holder will be expected to represent the University externally, by presenting their work at specialist meetings or workshops in the relevant research area. They will also be required to provide advice and support to relevant undergraduate and postgraduate students.

8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job

• Ph.D. submitted or awarded in a relevant area.
• Extensive knowledge of Ediacaran/Cambrian geoscience.
• Extensive knowledge and experience of relevant geochemical methods.
• A proven track record of applying these methods in a laboratory setting.
• Excellent organisational and communication skills.
• Track record of publishing work in high impact internationally peer reviewed journals, and of giving presentations at international conferences.


• Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary research environment while also being able to work and solve problems independently.
• Facility for presenting what may be complex results to a more general audience in a clear way.
• Experience of ash-bed dating

9. Dimensions

There are no line management responsibilities associated with this post.

10. Job Context and any other relevant information

This PDRA position will be based in Edinburgh and will involve travel in the UK and Germany, and to present results at international conferences.

Application Procedure

All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page and submitting an up to date CV. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

We anticipate interviews will be held in the week commencing the 29 June 2020. You will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not.

The closing date is 5pm on Wednesday 17th June 2020.

Right to Work

In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and Immigration Act 2016 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).
To do so, the University requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on right to work please visit our right to work webpage

If you are from outside the EEA and not currently eligible to work in the UK, there are visa routes that may be available to you, for example:
  1. Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): If you are an academic in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by a designated competent body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech City UK). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website
  2. Tier 2: The University is a UKVI licensed sponsor and is able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who are offered highly skilled roles and meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa).

Please note if you were last granted leave to stay in the UK in any Tier 2 category in the 12 months immediately preceding an application and the leave has
• ended or expired.
• the CoS which led to that grant of leave was issued for more than 3 months, and
• you are either:
o applying for entry clearance from outside the UK, or
o you are in the UK and had a previous period of Tier 2 leave, but then changed ('switched') into a different immigration category and now wishes to apply again under Tier 2.

You must wait 12 months before applying again.

Further information about whether you require a visa and other visa routes can be found at:

Conditions of Employment
Pension Scheme

This role is grade UE07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

For further information please visit our Pensions website .


The role is grade UE07 and attracts an annual salary of £33,797 to £40,322 for 35 hours per week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.

The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.
var links = document.querySelectorAll(".targetLink"), i, j, aTags, string; for(i=0; i The School of GeoSciences The School of GeoSciences explores the factors and forces that shape our world. The School aims to understand the world through fundamental curiosity-driven research and to support prescient decision-making at individual to global scales. We undertake world-leading research; offer new ways of understanding natural and social drivers of change; provide inter-and trans-disciplinary solutions; and work in partnership to improve livelihoods and explore ways to manage the environment that are both sustainable and socially equitable.

With over 500 academics, researchers and research students, we are the largest and most successful interdisciplinary grouping of geoscientists and geographers in the UK. Research activity is coordinated within three main Research Institutes - Global Change, Earth and Planetary Science, and Geography and the Lived Environment - and within smaller research groupings that reach across and beyond the School.

A distinctive feature of the School is the combination of academic strength, intellectual breadth and societal relevance. Our interdisciplinary research and teaching builds on established core disciplines (ecology, environmental sciences, geography, geophysics, meteorology, oceanography) to provide a variety of approaches to understanding the world (including, for example, system-scale modelling, process studies and the development of urban and social theory). The School's research covers fundamental 'blue-skies' questions, as well as having application to key societal challenges including inequality and vulnerability; urban precarity; nature and cultural meaning; development and sustainability; climate and environmental change; energy, food and water security; health and wellbeing; natural resources; and natural hazards.

The School holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to gender equality in higher education. Our aim is to recognise and value diversity in our staff and students, and to support flexible and family-friendly working.

More details about the School is available from
College of Science and Engineering ( ) The College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is one of the largest and highest-ranked science and engineering groupings in the UK. Headed by Professor David Robertson, CSE comprises seven Schools (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, GeoSciences, Informatics, Mathematics, and Physics and Astronomy) as well as a national supercomputing centre (the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre) and the Bayes Centre for interdisciplinary data science and innovation. We extend beyond the University through many joint activities - for example we host the cross-Scotland DataLab innovation Centre, we are a founding partner in the Scottish Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, and we are a partner in UK-wide collaborations including the Alan Turing Institute and the Rosalind Franklin Institute. Most Schools are located 2 miles south of the city centre at the King's Buildings whilst Informatics, EPCC and Bayes are located in the University's Central Area near George Square. The College has over 3,000 academic and support staff, and educates some 6,000 undergraduates, over 1000 taught postgraduates and more than 2,000 research students. It is in the front rank of UK university science and engineering groupings for research quality and income, and is a key player in many European and international research consortia.

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

In the 2014 REF over 95% of our staff were submitted. Of our seven submissions, four of which were as a joint research school in combination with a strategic research university partner through pooling, 3 were ranked top in the UK and all 7 were in the top 5 in their discipline in the Times Higher Power rankings.
The University of Edinburgh For more than four centuries, our people and their achievements have rewritten history time and again. They've explored space, revolutionised surgery, published era-defining books, paved the way for life-saving medical breakthroughs and introduced to the world many inventions, discoveries and ideas from penicillin to Dolly the sheep. We have believed that anything is possible, we still do.
The latest Research Excellence Framework highlighted our place at the forefront of international research. This adds to our international reputation for the quality of our teaching and our student experience excellence. The University is proud of its success with online teaching initiatives, with 2550 students currently studying its online distance learning postgraduate programmes, and a total to date of more than 2 million enrolments for Edinburgh MOOCs.

As a member of staff, you will be part of one of the world's leading universities, with 20 Schools spread over 3 Colleges that offer more than 1600 undergraduate and 600 postgraduate programmes to over 41,000 students each year. Professional services are critical to this success as well as our world-class teaching, research and student facilities. In fact, we are one of the top employers in Edinburgh, with over 14,500 people spread across a wide range of academic and supporting roles.

As a world-changing, world-leading university, we offer an exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent, develop and reward success and integrate academic, professional and personal career goals, as well as give your career the benefit of a great and distinguished reputation. In addition, our employees benefit from a competitive reward package and a wide range of staff benefits, which include generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts and much more. Access our staff benefits page for further information and use our reward calculator to find out the total value of pay and benefits provided.

The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment, including flexible working and childcare vouchers. See our University Initiatives website for further information.

University Family Friendly Initiatives

Equality Networks:

Staff Pride Network for LGBT+ colleagues and allies
Disabled Staff Network

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