JAE-Intro-ICUs 2020 | 6 Master Thesis Grants at the Institute of Marine Research (IIM-CSIC)

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    Institute of Marine Research - Spanish National Research Council (IIM-CSIC)
    Formal sciences
    Natural sciences
    First Stage Researcher (R1) (Up to the point of PhD)



The Institute of Marine Research (IIM-CSIC) offers 6 Master thesis project grants to promote research in marine sciences by students already enrolled in a Masters programme at any European University.

The IIM-CSIC is a very competitive host institution, one of the top marine research institutions in Spain and part of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the main research organisation in the country, third in Europe & seventh worldwide. The Institute offers a lively and diverse research environment. During your stay with us, we offer a range of short training courses & regular seminars to help you develop your career and integrate in our community.

The IIM-CSIC, as a marine research institution devoted to the development of knowledge for sustainable development, performs a multidisciplinary research responding to global challenges and to local concerns; enabling an integral and global understanding of marine ecosystems.

Regarding the JAE Intro ICUs 2020 Call, the following thesis projects are available. Applicants are envited to contact the PIs for further information:

1. Land-sea input of rare earth elements

Supervisor: Ricardo Prego (prego@iim.csic.es) | Marine Biogeochemistry

Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Environmental Science, or similar.

GPA >8.00 out of 10.00

Rare earth elements (REEs) constitute a set of 17 elements widely used in our technological society. However, the environmental consequences of the anthropogenic increase of RREs in coastal systems are poorly understood. Our research group is interested on how anthropogenic inputs alter REEs concentration in the environment, and what are the consequences for their biochemical cycles and exchange processes, particularly at the land-sea interface.

The training plan will allow the successful candidate to develop skills for the whole process of scientific research, from literature review, sampling (if possible), sample & data processing and manuscript preparation (as co-author).

2. Genetics of pigment pattern formation in fishes. Evolution of counter-shading mechanisms

Supervisors: Miquel Planas (mplanas@iim.csic.es) | Fish Larval Biology & Physiology (E&MR)

                       Josep Rotllant (rotllant@iim.csic.es) | AquaBiotech Lab

Bachelor’s degree in relevant subjects (biology, marine biology, environmental science, biochemistry, biotechnology, etc)

GPA >8.00 out of 10.00

How does animal colouration come about? What processes control the distribution of pigments or pigmented cells? How is the diversity of coloured fish in a tropical reef generated? This is the problem of pigment pattern formation, a classic problem in biology, with wide implications both at a basic biological level and an applied level.

In this project we aim to understand the genetic and cellular bases for dorso-ventral pigment pattern formation in fishes using zebrafish and turbot as animal models.

As our fellow, you will develop a deep molecular and cellular understanding of these processes that will have direct implications for the comprehension of vertebrate pigment pattern formation, but will also impact the industry, with potential solutions for the problem of fish stock discolouration.

3. Development of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques for the photo-identification of fish individuals and implementation of a capture-mark-recapture model (CMR)

Supervisors: Luís Taboada (ltaboada@iim.csic.es) | Bio-Process Engineering

                       Alexandre Alonso Fernández (alex@iim.csic.es) | Fisheries Ecology (E&MR)

Bachelor’s degree in related subjects (e.g.: biology, marine biology, biotechnology, physics, maths or engineering).

GPA >7.00 out of 10.00

Studying the populations and tracking the individuals of species underwater might be tricky. An effective, fast, inexpensive and non-invasive way of doing so are photo-identification tagging-recapturing systems.

This project aims to improve the reliability of one of this technique on Raja ondulata, a species with very recognisable colour and shape skin patterns. It will require the development of a photo collection survey to build a complete database to ‘teach’ the recognition algorithms, in addition to diving and fishing campaigns to test the system in different conditions.

The complexity of the project is addressed through a synergy between interdisciplinary IIM-CSIC teams that have worked on several LIFE and Pleamar Programme projects on this topic, such as SICAPTOR.

4. Development of molecular markers to study kinship relationships in coastal elasmobranchs

Supervisors: Alexandre Alonso Fernández (alex@iim.csic.es)| Fisheries Ecology (E&MR)

                       Laura Casas (lauracasas@iim.csic.es) | Fisheries Ecology (E&MR)

Bachelor’s degree in related subjects (e.g.: biology, biotechnology, marine biology or environmental science).

GPA >7.00 out of 10.00

Support the development of new genetic less-invasive techniques for tagging marine species and study the population & social structure of sharks & rays.

This project proposes genetic tagging as an alternative for monitoring those species lacking phenotypic traits clearly recognizable from photographs. The development of these techniques will help us understand the role of kinship in structuring social organisation in elasmobranchs. We know coastal species can develop more or less complex social structures and, although observations of elasmobranchs in groups suggest sociality in sharks and rays, this topic is largely understudied.

We propose to develop molecular markers to genetically identify individuals, eliminating the need to physically tag them. This data, in combination with high spatial resolution information from acoustic telemetry (Project TAC and DESTAC) will be used to determine if kin structure plays a role in social networks in elasmobranchs.

Furthermore, kinship analysis might allow to estimate population size and other demographic population parameters of interest (abundance, connectivity, reproductive output, etc.).

5. Effect of seawater warming and turbulence on ecophysiological responses of the infaunal clam Polititapes rhomboides

Supervisors: José Manuel Fernández Babarro (jbabarro@iim.csic.es) | EsMaBa

                       Miguel Gil-Coto (migil@iim.csic.es) | Fisheries Ecology (E&MR)

Bachelor’s degree in relevant subjects (biology, marine biology, marine science, environmental science, chemistry, etc)

GPA >8.00 out of 10.00

This project explores the impact of water temperature and turbulence in the health of a key infaunal bivalve for the Rías Baixas ecosystem. Polititapes rhomboides is a banded carpet clam with special importance for the ecosystem of Rías Baixas in the NW of the Iberian Peninsula which abundance and distribution, unlike other clam species of commercial interest, is not impacted by semiaquaculture procedures (seed exchange, purchases, etc.) being only harvested directly from sandy bottoms.

In the past, events of massive mortality were noted for P. rhomboides, associated to periods of seawater warming and excess of turbulence (e.g. impacts of waves). These factors, after weakening the health condition of the clams, triggered the proliferation of rickettsias (natural intracellular prokaryotic colonies) infecting the gills of specimens.

In order to understand the set of responses that this clam may activate facing environmental stress and their impacts, laboratory-based experiments in small culture tanks will be conducted changing the environmental scenarios according to these two key abiotic factors (temperature and turbulence).

6.Microbial interactions in macroalgae with implications in aquaculture

Supervisor: José Pintado (pintado@iim.csic.es)| Fish Larval Biology & Physiology (E&MR)

Bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology, environmental science or similar. Background in microbiology or genomics will be valued.

GPA >8.00 out of 10.00

Bacterial communities associated with Ulva spp. play an important functional role both in morphogenesis and reproduction of the algae, considering Ulva and its associated microbiota a singular functional entity or holobiont. Moreover, Ulva spp. host antibiotic-producing bacteria (APB, e.g. Phaeobacter sp.) with known antagonism against fish pathogens.

Using a multi-disciplinary approach, including -omic techniques, the research will contribute to the understanding of the role of those APB, and the conditions that favour their predominance in Ulva spp., which would have implications in disease control in fish-algae Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Systems with Recirculation (IMTA-RAS).

What is funded

Each fellowship will be funded with a monthly stipend of 800€ up to a total of 4,800 € (6 months).The scholarship will not be considered salary or remuneration, but scholarship training.


The scholarship will last for 6 months to develop your Master Thesis Project with us, ideally between January and June 2021. Eventually the research stay may be started earlier and finished not later than August 31 2021. It is compulsory to stay during January and March 2021.


Applicants must hold a first degree in relevant subjects (see at each Master Thesis Topic in the Outline) and should not have initiated the Master Thesis, but should be already enrolled in a master programme. A minimum grade point average is established for each Thesis topic.

To apply, send an email to Fran Saborido-Rey at jaeintro@iim.csic.es with a cover letter (max. 1 page) and a CV (max. 4 pages). All documents must be compiled in a single PDF document.

Your CV must include: your academic & working experience, elementary personal data (name, date & place of birth, citizenship, etc.) language proficiency levels & your GPA in the units used by your institution

The GPA must include all courses except the thesis grade for each diploma you have earned or are currently studying towards. In addition, it must be converted onto a 0 to 10.00 scale

We highly recommend you to read our website & the full prospect of the call for key information on the application process.


JAEintroICUs_IIM_CSIC (1.46 MB)


The responsibility for the funding offers published on this website, including the funding description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.