Research Assistant or Research Fellow in Soil Ecology

This job offer has expired

    Cranfield University
    Environmental science
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    Recognised Researcher (R2)
    14/05/2021 23:00 - Europe/London
    United Kingdom › Cranfield, Bedford


School of Water, Energy and Environment

Environment and Agrifood

Research Assistant or Research Fellow in Soil Ecology

Fixed Term Contract for 36 months

Flexible working will be actively considered

£30,600 per annum (Research Assistant)

£33,309 per annum (Research Fellow)

Location: Cranfield, Bedfordshire

Cranfield University’s world-class expertise, large-scale facilities and unrivalled industry partnerships is creating leaders in technology and management globally. Learn more about Cranfield and our unique impact here.

Cranfield University Environment and Agrifood Theme welcomes applications from post-doctoral candidates in the area of soil ecology/soil science and related disciplines.

About the School of Water, Energy and Environment / Environment and Agrifood

The Environment and Agrifood Theme is recognised worldwide by industry, government and academe for our research and teaching in plants, soil, water and air. Our strengths range from environmental governance and risk, to food security. We have a substantial portfolio of UKRI funded research projects, this post is funded by the NERC Highlights program. We work with global and domestic companies, environmental agencies, and governments to ensure that our research benefits all in society. We believe that understanding environmental problems and alleviating them can be achieved through technological innovation and risk management. Cranfield experts are using our unique soil datasets and sensor-based diagnostics to provide new solutions for improving precision agriculture, soil health, protection and enhancement of natural capital through ecosystem restoration. Our near-industrial scale research facilities are unparalleled. These are combined with continual and substantive investment in our students, staff and infrastructure.

About the Role

We are seeking a post-doctoral scientist in the area of soil ecology/soil science and related disciplines to lead the soil component as part of our NERC Highlight Funded Project “Restoring resilient ecosystems”, which is led by Professor Jim Harris at Cranfield, and includes the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Stirling University, the National Trust and Forest Research.

There is a global biodiversity crisis driven by mounting pressures including land degradation and climate change. Within the UK, responses include the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan, which sets out a vision to secure a more biodiverse, connected and resilient landscape.

One widely adopted approach to securing net environmental gain is that of "ecological restoration". However, using specific natural and semi-natural ecosystems to define endpoints is increasingly contested, as target "pristine" states are hard to define, climate change is leading to a shifting baseline, and there is a need to restore ecosystems that are resilient to future pressures. We need a new paradigm for goal-seeking in ecological restoration which goes beyond reference systems, is agnostic as to prior assumptions of intactness, integrity and system "health", based on diagnostics of characteristics of functionally intact systems

We intend to measure biodiversity, architecture and multifunctionality in ecosystems in different stages of transition from a degraded state, identify determinants and measures of complexity, and seek signals of emergent properties - especially resilience to perturbation, across a range of trophic levels – soil being the major focus of the Cranfield work. We have chosen grasslands and woodlands, being two major habitat types targeted for restoration programmes. Further to this we shall explore how approaches to accelerating re-integration of systems may affect emergent properties. In summary, we propose to move restoration science forward, but considering complexity and resilience as fundamental aims for restoration projects, rather than attempting to re-create specific target ecosystems.

About You

The person we are seeking will be engaged in planning, experimental design, sampling of soils, processing and analysing them across a range of soil biology and biochemistry techniques, especially soil community structure and function including metagenomics, synthesis of results and production and dissemination of outputs.

You will be educated to doctoral level, or near to completion, in a relevant subject and have experience of soil research using quantitative methods. With excellent communication skills, you will have expertise in soil biological analysis and a metagenomics and soil functional measurement would be an advantage.


In return, the successful applicant will have exciting opportunities for career development in this key position, and to be at the forefront of world leading research into solutions addressing biodiversity loss and climate change, joining a supportive team and environment.

Our Values

Our shared, stated values help to define who we are and underpin everything we do: Ambition; Impact; Respect; and Community. Find out more here. We aim to create and maintain a culture in which everyone can work and study together and realise their full potential.

Diversity and Inclusion

Our equal opportunities and diversity monitoring has shown that women and minority ethnic groups are currently underrepresented within the university and so we actively encourage applications from eligible candidates from these groups.

monstrate our commitment to progressing gender diversity in STEM, we are members of WES & Working Families, and sponsors of International Women in Engineering Day.

Flexible Working

We actively consider flexible working options such as part-time, compressed or flexible hours and/or an element of homeworking, and commit to exploring the possibilities for each role. Find out more here.

How to apply

For an informal discussion, please contact initially by email: Professor Jim Harris j.a.harris@cranfield.ac.uk or Dr Mark Pawlett, m.pawlett@cranfield.ac.uk

Apply online now. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further details on E: hr@cranfield.ac.uk. Please quote reference number 3587.


Closing date for receipt of applications: 14 May 2021

Interviews to be held: 09 June 2021







More Information

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Cranfield University
United Kingdom
Cranfield, Bedford
MK43 0AL
HR and Development

EURAXESS offer ID: 628923


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