Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Early Stage Researcher (PhD Student) position in ecology and ecotoxicology

This job offer has expired

    The University of Sheffield
    Biological sciencesBiodiversity
    Biological sciencesBiology
    Environmental scienceEcology
    Environmental scienceNatural resources management
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    31/05/2020 23:00 - Europe/London
    United Kingdom › SHEFFIELD
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Understanding the potentially negative impacts of chemicals on ecosystems is essential to managing them sustainably. In particular, we need to understand the effects of chemicals on the direct and indirect contributions that ecosystems make to human well-being (i.e. ecosystem services). To gain this understanding we need to move from simplistic approaches currently used in environmental risk assessment to more mechanistic and ecologically relevant understanding and approaches.

This project will address one of the priority research questions identified in a recent horizon-scanning project on sustainable environmental quality, namely: How do sublethal effects of chemicals alter individual fitness and propagate to population and community levels? (van den Brink et al 2018, Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 37, 2281-2295). This priority research question will be addressed by integrating ecological theory and modelling approaches with ecotoxicological understanding of the effects of chemicals on species.

The project will use energy-budget, population and food-web models to extrapolate chemical-induced changes in feeding rate to population and community-level responses that underpin key ecosystem function and services. The project will apply existing and novel methods to assess the effects of chemicals on ecosystem service providers and their interactions in complex assemblages. The results from this project will contribute to the development of ecological production functions to translate effects measured on ecosystem service providers to ecosystem service delivery.

The project will be supervised by Professor Lorraine Maltby and Professor Philip Warren at The University of Sheffield, UK. It will involve international collaboration with RIVM (Netherlands) on trait-based approaches, Aarhus University (Denmark) on dynamic energy budgets and Environmental Institute (Slovakia) on field methods and exposure assessment.


ESR will:

  • Receive a contract of employment as a full-time researcher for 36 months.
  • Complete a comprehensive personalised career development programme, with targeted training measures and participate in a range of network events.
  • Benefit from interdisciplinary cooperation and interaction within the network, providing them with the best preparation for a successful career in either academia or industry.
  • Receive a salary in line with H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019 call. Additional allowances for mobility and family (if applicable) are also provided. Further information is available on www.prorisk-itn.eu.
  • Have access to the state-of-the-art research infrastructure
  • Become a member of a vibrant research community

Eligibility criteria

  1. Applicants can be of any nationality
  2. At the date of recruitment, applicants must not have a PhD and have less than 4 years of full-time equivalent research experience from the award of the degree that entitles them to undertake a doctorate.
  3. Applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.
  4. Applicants must be highly motivated and have a BSc and an MSc or equivalent in ecology, environmental science, biology or a related discipline.
  5. A good command of English language, with excellent oral and written skills is essential (i.e. overall International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent).
  6. Applicants will be required to spend part of their project at other institutions in the PRORISK consortium.
  7. These eligibility requirements are non-negotiable and ineligible applicants will not be considered.

Selection process

Applications must be submitted via the Postgraduate Online Application Form (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgradapplication/). The deadline for applications is May 31 2020.


Applicants should provide the following information in their application in English:


1. A cover Letter detailing your background and motivation for applying for this position

2. A detailed CV including skills and publications if applicable.

3. All academic level certificates (BSc and MSc) including university grades itemized by each course. Foreign documents should be sent as certified English translations.

4. A synopsis of the BSc and MSc thesis if applicable, or any previous research project.

5. Evidence that you meet the University of Sheffield’s English language requirements (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/english-language)

6. At least two professional referees (Name, address, telephone & email).


Short-listed applicants complying with the eligibility requirements will be invited for an online interview in June 2020. The position is available from 1 August 2020 onwards.

Additional comments

The ESR position is based in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield (UK) and is part of PRORISK (www.prorisk-itn.eu), a European Training Network funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme. The University of Sheffield is a research-intensive world top-100 university renowned for the excellence, impact and distinctiveness of its research-led learning and teaching (www.sheffield.ac.uk). The Department of Animal and Plant Sciences is an international centre of excellence with world-class facilities and is ranked in the UK top 5 for research quality. The Department’s research focus is on understanding how organisms function, from the molecular level to their role in ecosystems, and it uses this understanding to address major environmental issues including pollution and nature conservation.


The PRORISK consortium comprises of 18 universities, research institutions, enterprises and partner organisations in 9 European countries and Canada creating a novel platform for training a network of ESRs in the field of advanced Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA). Research and training provided through PhD study, the PRORISK training programme and secondments in international multidisciplinary intersectoral teams in academia, industry and regulatory bodies, will enable ESRs to address exposure, ecotoxicology, ecosystem services, as well as assessment and modelling of risks and socio-economic impacts. The ESRs within PRORISK will gain synthetic skills allowing them to develop and implement innovative ERA concepts and tools to link the effects of chemicals at different levels of biological organization to ecosystem services and to determine the socio-economic values of related environmental impacts.

Offer Requirements


BSc and an MSc or equivalent in ecology, environmental science, biology or a related discipline

Specific Requirements

Applicants with experience of ecological modelling and/or ecotoxicological studies would be particularly suited to this position.

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
The University of Sheffield
United Kingdom
South Yorkshire
S10 2TN
Western Bank

EURAXESS offer ID: 518318


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