Save this page
Save this page

My Saved Pages

  • Saved page.

My Saved Courses

  • Saved page.
Reset

Recently visited

  • Saved page.

When good plankton go bad: Modelling the oceanography and ecology of toxic blooms on a productive northern coast

PhD project will synthesize state-of-the-art numerical models, satellite-based remote sensing, and existing bio-physical field observations in order to improve the spatial analyses that go into the production of that Bulletin.

Number of places

One

Funding

Home fee, Travel costs, Stipend

Opens

23 March 2018

Duration

3 years

Eligibility

You should have (or expect to have) a UK Honours Degree (or equivalent) at 2.1 or above

Project Details

Start date is flexible, with autumn 2018 preferred. Review of applications is ongoing and will continue until the position is filled. To apply, send 1) a complete CV, 2) a 1-2 page personal statement explaining your specific interest in this position and the skills you bring to it, and 3) names and contact info for three references. Please send applications and other inquiries to Dr Neil Banas.

The US Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon states) is one of the most biologically productive coastlines in the North Pacific, home to fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and human communities that all depend ultimately on the region’s intense phytoplankton blooms. At the same time, certain species of these phytoplankton (Pseudo-nitzschia spp.,) produce a potent neurotoxin (domoic acid) that builds up in shellfish and can kill humans and wildlife. The disruption to coastal economies can be intense. At present, we understand _where_ these toxic blooms originate (a handful of offshore hotspots), as well as the conditions under which wind-driven currents push them onto the beach, and on the basis of this have begun to produce a "Pacific Northwest Harmful Algal Bloom Bulletin" distributed to government and tribal resource managers to help with operational decisions (like when to close a beach to shellfish harvest). However, we are unable to predict _when_ toxin-producing species will appear in the offshore source regions. This is the area for potential improvement that this studentship targets: adding a biological component to our existing ocean-transport predictions, by a combination of statistical and mathematical approaches.

 

This project will combine 1) spatial analysis of large observational datasets, including satellite-based remote sensing; 2) output from a state-of-the-art 3D ocean model system (LiveOcean: (faculty.washington.edu/pmacc/LO/LiveOcean.html); and 3) dynamical modelling (a bit of ecological theory and cell biology translated into differential equations). It is thus an opportunity to gain a broad overview of contemporary ocean modelling, as well as an opportunity (via the Bulletin mentioned above and our partnership with government stakeholders) to see a basic-research problem all the way through to its impact on health and sustainability. A background in marine ecology or oceanography is preferred, but more important, an excellent quantitative background (programming, statistics, calculus) is required. We welcome applications from students in physics, mathematics, and allied fields who want to make a leap into environmental applications of their skills.

 

The student will be based at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK, and co-supervised by Dr Neil Banas (http://neilbanas.com/projects/), Dr David McKee (http://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/mckeedaviddr/), and Prof Raphael Kudela (University of California Santa Cruz: http://people.ucsc.edu/~kudela/). Marine Science at Strathclyde consists of an active community of approximately 30 researchers and PhD students, and is embedded in the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS) network. Tbe student will be encouraged to attend European and overseas conferences, join project meetings in Seattle, USA, and have the opportunity for extended visits to UC Santa Cruz and University of Washington, both of which are leading centres for marine science.

 

Funding Details

The position comes with three years of full support, including fees and an annual living stipend of approximately £14,000. The project is designed to be completable within these three years. Support is also available for conference travel and other expenses. We welcome applications from overseas as well as from the UK/EU.

Further information

For further information please contact Dr Banas

How to apply

To apply, send

1) a complete CV,

2) a 1-2 page personal statement explaining your specific interest in this position and the skills you bring to it, and

3) names and contact info for three references. Please send applications and other inquiries to Dr Neil Banas.